We each have our hot-button election issues.
Mine is property rights.
Has been for years.
For years I’ve been saying the Resource Management Act (RMA) is an abuse of property rights and has to go. It has empowered councils to take your property rights under all their thoroughly meddling district plans and directives, and has to go.
It has to go, I’ve said, to be replaced with common law protection of property rights – protecting private property rights and the environment, in which the common law can point to several hundred years of success.
No major party has followed that line. So, consequently, I’ve followed no major party.
But this year is different.
This year, after years of seeing Old ACT offering weasel words about “reforming” the RMA, tinkering around the edges but nothing to frighten their consultant constituency, this year the new leader of New ACT finally recognised and stated the obvious:
"The problem with the Resource Management Act is not in its administration, the problem is with the very conception of it."
The Act was "an assault on private property rights that stifles investment and economic growth", he said, blaming the Act's restrictions for the increasingly expensive property market.
Act instead would return a "sensible plan based on private property rights."
ACT believes parliament should admit [the Resource Management Act] is a 30 year experiment that has failed and we should start again using the common law as the basis for environmental protections.
Bravo! I said.
I said it many times. I said it despite my fear of politicians saying one thing and meaning another.
I even said I’d head out tomorrow for the first time in my life and vote ACT, and David Seymour.
So when they started this week to talk instead about “reform” again, I had to check with David. Were they going blancmange again?, I asked. Not at all, he said.
I think it should be repealed. Could we negotiate that? Probably not. There would still be regulation in its place, just far narrower.
Hmm, but your policy was to abolish RMA and replace it with common law.
That's not right, Jamie's always said replace with specific laws when and only when common law is deficient.
(Well, see above.) But you’re still saying abolish?
Yes. To be clear there would still be regulation, not promising common law only, just that RMA is beyond redemption, scrap and replace with much simpler law only when common law problems are clear.
So, customers, what do I do?
Was that the ringing re-endorsement I was hoping for? Or is New ACT going blancmange?
And what should I do about it tomorrow?
UPDATE: It’s not just me with doubts. Former ACT board member Peter McCaffrey writes…
Tomorrow I will cast an absentee vote for ACT from Canada because I think Jamie Whyte would contribute significantly to New Zealand’s Parliament, and of all the various party’s list candidates who are on the margin of getting elected, he is by far the best.
Having said that, ACT’s campaign has been woeful.
… the party [was presented with] a fantastic opportunity to finally become properly liberal, to campaign on some new policies (drug reform, civil liberties, etc) and look to slowly and steadily grow the party.
In short, [however] the party was too risk averse, too worried about the few votes they might lose, and never considering the votes they might win – a disappointing ignorance of Bastiat’s principles of the seen and the unseen, for a supposedly economically literate party….
In short, you still probably should give your party vote to ACT, in hopes of getting Jamie elected…
But I don’t blame you if you can’t bring yourself to do it.