Monday, 8 September 2014

Why Jamie Whyte can’t build an electoral fire under ACT

You know, I’ve waited nearly all my life for any party other than Libertarianz to say that, or anything like that.

To say that and actually mean it.

I’ve waited nearly two decades for any other party to say that recognising property rights means the Resource Management Act must go, must be abolished, must be repealed, binned, burned, destroyed. I’ve waited exactly that long for someone, anyone, to recognise that in binning it we don’t need to replace it with more town planning, but with the good old-fashioned protection of common law – protection for property rights and environment combined that has over eight-hundred years of sophistication in dealing with the issues the RMA purports to deal with, but doesn’t.

And when another party finally does say it, and really and truly mean it when they do, it’s all just too damn late.

Here’s ACT’s Jamie Whyte speaking at his party’s weekend campaign launch:

Like all successful countries, New Zealand was built on the rule of law, private property rights and trade. And our continued success also depends on them.
Chip away at these institutions and we will lose the prosperity and freedom that we now enjoy.
Labour, New Zealand First, the Greens, Mana-Internet and the Conservatives are all openly hostile to the institution of private property.
All want to ban the sale of land to foreigners. I have heard the leaders of all these parties justify this policy by claiming that “we should not be selling our land to foreigners”.
“Our land”?
When Lochinvar station was sold to Chinese buyers, we were not selling our land. The Stevenson family was selling their land.
Land in New Zealand is not collectively owned; it is privately owned. New Zealand is not yet a communist country.
Winston Peters lives in a street near mine. He cannot come knocking at my door demanding entry to “our house”. Nor should he presume to tell me who I can sell my house to. I own my house and Winston owns his.
That’s what John Key should have told David Cunliffe when the topic came up during their televised debate. Instead, Key quibbled that the National government already applies Labour’s proposed test for an acceptable land sale.
In other words, Key accepted Cunliffe’s assumption that the government should decide who a private property owner may sell to.
There is no virtue in meeting your opponents halfway when they have strayed miles off course.

As true as this is necessary:

ACT would also abolish the Resource Management Act rather than streamlining its consenting processes, as National plans to do.
The problem is not with the administration of the RMA. The problem is with the very conception of it. The RMA is an assault on property rights that stifles investment and economic growth. The restrictions it puts on using land for residential development are the reason housing is so expensive.
We did not have an environmental crisis in 1990 when the RMA was made law. But we did have affordable housing.  ACT would return to sensible planning laws based on private property rights.

Jamie Whyte has earlier noted that “there's no need for the RMA as the environment is already protected by common law;  said “parliament should admit it is a 30 year experiment that has failed and we should start again using the common law as the basis for environmental protections”; that there is "hundreds of years of common law" that can adequately protect the environment.”

Something not one of his predecessors ever either understood, or even tried to get their head around.

To hear it said, finally, out in the open, by someone other than me, is truly inspiring.

To watch him point out that all his electoral protagonists are “communistic” – to point out and explain – is tremendous.

To hear ideas like this,* finally and properly articulated, is a blessing:

imageSo why do I say it’s too damned late?

Precisely because of those damned predecessors, who delivered to this new leader a party too toxic for any rational voter to touch.

Jamie Whyte is making a magnificent fist out of what he inherited.  But it’s the party he inherited that is proving his biggest problem. He is way better than this shambles deserves.

The ACT Party began badly, let’s face it, when right from its founding the party talked about values out of one side of its mouth while Richard Prebble talked politics out of the other – betraying ever value it claimed to stand for, and every voter who lent that way who lent them their vote on that basis.  The slide into permanent toxicity was cemented when Rodney Hide danced his way into ministerial perks before delivering to Auckland a super-sized bureaucracy from which it may only barely recover.

Not to mention the toxic and vindictive inner party squabbles that occasionally erupted forth onto the front pages, betraying the way values were valued in this petty fiefdom run so sourly by a fat and flaccid fool.

The toxicity was such that when Don Brash stooped to conquer, he discovered that the electoral effect of association with this visibly toxic cabal was not to raise the ACT Party up to some appreciable percentage of the vote tally he had earlier earned as National Party leader, but instead to drag down his own reputation to the nether regions of this party.

And then he delivered to the country John Banks.

I wasn’t there at New ACT’s campaign launch on Saturday, so I don’t know if those two toxic dwarfs Rodney Hide or John Banks attended, but I’d like to think they were invited just so they could be told to take a long walk off a very short pier. Or just to be punched in the face.

Because if Jamie Whyte needs in four short words the reason his many fine ones are failing to catch electoral fire, it is the names of those two worms – John Banks and Rodney Hide -- who have so poisoned the platform from which New ACT is attempting to launch – so poisoned the well for the classical liberal ideas they claimed to represent -- that I fear a misfire is the best now that can be hoped for.**

Because I would hate the fine ideas on which they are now trying to stand – after many years of much worse – to be themselves tarnished by association.

They deserve, and have always deserved, much better than that.

* No, not an ACT Party billboard if you look closely, more’s the pity. Hat tip for it to top Brit Oliver Cooper.
** I wish Jamie and David Seymour the very best, I really do. Because they’re both fine people. But I fear their own association with this toxic rump will make them and what they stand for just as untouchable as Don Brash.


  1. Not a member since 2009, Whyte's commitment to classical liberal ideas has me back delivering election material into letterboxes. What else is left to stand for?
    I hope readers of this blog will seriously consider giving their party vote to ACT . If only so they can legitimately lean on Whyte to keep on saying, "Abolish the RMA" once in government.

  2. The voters are also at he advanced auction of stolen goods, looking for a bargain. Who was it that said democracy leads to socialism.?

  3. Fat lady is yet to sing. Nat voters who want reform have reason to vote New ACT simply as insurance to get the Nats across the line. Let's see in 2 weeks.

    If you are pro-liberty & want the country to head towards smaller government -- you know what to do

    If you're a Nat voter, awaiting reform from the Nats; awake, get real -- you know what to do

    It's hard to imagine a better pro-liberty reform agenda than what Whyte has put on the table, in our current climate. It's there to be supported right now. He's done the work. It's the easiest thing now to support him. Vote for it.

    That is all.

  4. I'm with Lindsay. Despite its apparent standing ACT still represents the things I value. So that's where my Party Vote is going - Jamie Whyte is such a refreshing change to honesty and common sense.
    Jeremy Laurenson

  5. Act is still philosophically close to what Libz stood for, even with it's past inconsistencies & drama's. I wish Jamie well & hope he can turn ACT around for the better.

    B Whitehead

  6. btw, great ad. And the naked one too.

  7. Toxic as the ACT brand may be, it is still a brand. Without that Jamie Whyte would be another voice in the wilderness. The libertarian minded would agree with him but with no chance of getting a seat the votes just wouldn't happen.

    In the perverse world of PR it seems easier to renovate a well-known but rotting hulk than attract attention to a shiny new start up. It will probably take another three years of consistent, intelligent communication to start to expunge ACT's odour of compromised principles and win back disillusioned voters, so 2017 should be the real target.

    I'll be voting for ACT this election, no point in whining about the lack of rational thought in NZ politics and then ignoring it when it appears!

    - Tom

  8. Vote all you like, nothing will alter.


  9. Sadly, though I tend to agree with Amit, it is at least refreshing to have something to vote for again.

    I ended up accidentally having beers with half of the ACT party a couple of months back. I met both Jamie Whyte (I won't judge him for ignoring the excellent array of craft beer on offer and instead opting for a red wine) and David Seymour, as well as a few of the execs. I gave them my full blast of "had enough of being let down by you guys" skepticism. They responded in such positive terms and with serious intent that I even promised to stand for them in Hamilton should they manage to not compromise their principles after a term in office with National. Whether they'd want me is another matter... ;)

    This new ACT mean business, and Whyte and Seymour are the real deal. Great people, attempting to do great things for the individual against the machine of big government. I wish them the very best.

  10. I am disappointed the Libz didn't contest the election.

    I have already cast my 2 advance votes for National (due to the 'activities' of every candidate in this electorate except the National candidate), but in any event ACT is simply too ghastly and 'middle class' to contemplate actually voting for.

    They have always given me the impression of 'pretending' - like 8 year old girls playing 'dress ups' - and therefore engage in gauche, embarrassing behaviour.

    For instance they wear business suits in social situations or on farms - because they think that is what 'Big Guys" do - and because they are quite ignorant of the very existence of tweed sports coats haha!

    (It's a 'class' thing - you wouldn't understand)

    They are very preachy - thinking that impresses people (it doesn't) - and no one likes puritanical wild eyed lunatics telling them what they are doing wrong......"Photo ops with movie stars are a sign you are DECADENT, when you should be WORKING(It's a class thing...)

    Even when I do agree with them it is hard to listen to what is being said when the gauche behaviour is on display and I am thinking "ugh where did they get those ghastly shirts and shoes from?" - they are just sooooooo middle class *shudder* - not my sort of people at all.

    (It's a class thing..)

    Then there is the typical lower middle class values and behaviour of ACT people - when compared with those slightly higher up the scale.

    The ruling class protect each other; for better or worse, (and often against better judgement) the true ruling class stand by each other, protect each other, and rally round when someone is in trouble.

    This is in contrast to the ghastly middle class who abandon their mates when something goes wrong, and then have bizarre competitions to show how much better they are than the person in trouble, assuring mutual friends they never much liked them in the first place.

    John Banks and other ACT people 'would' abandon their mates - like Kim Dotcom - whereas 'others' would do what they could to help.

    (It is a 'class' thing.)

    So when ACT tries to get certain types of people to vote for them - farmers, businessmen, rich people - it doesn't work because these are the very people who stand by their mates, who hate preaching, and who hate middle class values.

  11. " point in whining about the lack of rational thought in NZ politics and then ignoring it when it appears."

    You make a fair point, Tom.

  12. @Greig: "This new ACT mean business, and Whyte and Seymour are the real deal."

    Yes, for the first time in this party, they are.

    "I even promised to stand for them in Hamilton..."

    That would be after indulging in the superb array craft beer, no doubt ... ?

  13. "Vote all you like, nothing will alter"

    Amit, just the fact that someone of relative prominence is out there saying what is being said makes all the difference in the world, most of all to those who are listening.

  14. And there we have it. Ex Libertarianz moaning and groaning. Then a new Act emerges with brand new people driving it and libz go and criticize it. Provided Act wins Epsom a party vote for Act has a lot more punch then a vote for National in terms of seats.

    I used to think that Act was too toxic to resurrect but I was wrong. Look at the amount of media attention Act is receiving at the moment! Another Libz outfit would have been ignored.

    I am very impressed with Jamie Whyte and his ability to lay out stuff in a concise manner. The man IS libertarian for as far I can see. So, not only will I vote for Act, I joined Act as well and even donated money for their campaign. In addition I also bothered to turn up when the only libertarian minded party in NZ had her campaign launch.

    Where the hell were you guys? Too busy nitpicking on how "toxic" Act is?

  15. @Dinther: Where was I? I was working. That's where I was. But I know that other "you guys" were the hell there.

  16. @PC yes, it had been a full day of indulgence! ;)

    @Dinther Also working, sadly.

  17. This was worth reading simply to have the pleasure of another one of Elijah's 'Landed gentry' impersonations.
    It's meant to be funny right?

  18. @ Dinther, where was I?, I'm in Oz, it's a bit far to travel just for a meeting.

    B Whitehead

  19. Thanks for Lindsay and Tom's comments above.Couldn't bring myself to vote the party ACT because of so many strikes (criminal and otherwise) against it until reading them. Abstention seemed the best choice. Otherwise it is National the appalling well ahead of Labour, Green et al the atrocious and egregious

  20. Act needs 1.3% of the party vote to get Jamie Whyte in, so give 'em your party vote!

  21. No such thing as an ex-Libertarianz exists, Paul Dinther, because anyone who joined or voted for the Libz was the real deal, a true believer.

    With the possible exception of the Social Credit party - (*snigger*) - Libz supporters were the only people who have EVER voted for something, rather than simply against somebody else.

    For all the talk about NewACT let's look at some facts shall we?

    1. ACT will vote for Budget 2015
    2. That means they will vote for everything they said they would cut in their alternative Budget
    3. That means they will vote for large numbers of things we haven't heard about yet - which they will claim not to support. Except for when they vote for it.
    4. They will vote to curb personal freedoms, business freedoms, more green tape, more RMA excesses, more government departments and anything else on the agenda - and do so without hesitation.
    5. They will not vote for a single libertarian policy over the next 3 years. Not one.
    6. Just as 'old' ACT did between 1996 -99 and since 2008.
    7. Between 1996 and 99, and since 2008 ACT have voted for 23 tax increases; and 92 different laws which are contrary to the NZ Bill of Rights Act.
    8. How anyone thinks any of this is evidence of libertarianism is beyond me! hahahahaha!

    Let's assume Whyte makes it into Parliament; a principled course of action would be something like this -

    Seymour spends 7 or 8 months saturating Epsom with his presence as the MP; on Budget night ACT says "we can't support this socialist rubbish" announces a libertarian 'manifesto' of policies, and an alternative Budget with proper spending cuts etc......and Seymour quits Parliament.

    Seymour wins the by-election on his own merits, on an ACT manifesto of policies - which would take some doing because he seems a bit 'wet' (am I the only person who thinks Seymour has never been laid? haha!) - and then, and ONLY then, would NewACT be valid, be anything more than a load of old rubbish.

    If Seymour loses the by-election Whyte still remains in Parliament and can continue on a principled and legitimate libertarian agenda.

    But to be the 'junior' National party, to support everything they have spent 7 months campaigning against is deceitful and...frankly...pathetic.

    Disclaimer - I gave my electorate vote to Brett Hudson because every other candidate in Ohariu signed an Anti Israel pledge; I gave my party vote to National to cancel out my spouse's (childish) vote for Winston First. But had the Libz or One Law For All been on the ballot....


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