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Chris Trotter argues Richard Prebble made Act competitive electorally by turning it into a right-wing populist party, and asks whether David Seymour is doing the same

Chris Trotter argues Richard Prebble made Act competitive electorally by turning it into a right-wing populist party, and asks whether David Seymour is doing the same
ALL GUNS BLAZING: Act defended NZ's gun culture and the signal that went out into all the dark corners of rural and provincial New Zealand could hardly have been clearer or stronger.

By Chris Trotter*

It wasn't that Act was short of talent or money, it had plenty of both, but it was definitely short of something. That much was plain in the weeks and months that followed the party’s launch in 1994.

The party’s two leading campaigners, Sir Roger Douglas and Derek Quigley, toured the country tirelessly. Still enhaloed by the success of his 1984-1990 policy revolution, Douglas easily persuaded employers to give the duo access to their workforces. Hundreds, and quite possibly thousands, of working-class men and women thought it advisable (in this post- Employment Contracts Act world) to listen politely as Douglas and Quigley delivered their classical-liberal pitch. With equal docility they accepted the glossy pamphlets paid for by Act’s bankroller, the multi-millionaire Craig Heatley.

And yet, in spite of Douglas’s confident predictions of Act rapidly attracting major-party levels of voter support, its poll ratings hovered stubbornly just below or fractionally above 1%. Classical-Liberal economics and politics does have an audience in New Zealand, but it is very, very small. Too small to provide Act with the 5% of the Party Vote required to make it into Parliament without the turbo-charger of an electorate seat – however acquired.

Clearly, the something Act was lacking needed to be identified and supplied – as a matter of urgency – or the Herculean efforts of Douglas and Quigley, and the $1 million dollars spent by Heatley, would all have been for nought.

Enter Richard Prebble.

Douglas and Quigley had given it their best shot, but by March 1996 it was clear their ammunition was too lightly packed. If the revolution unleashed by Douglas (ably assisted by Prebble) in 1984 was to be protected and extended, then Act’s cartridges would require a considerably heavier charge.

Nobody possesses a better understanding of the explosive material required to propel the Right into political contention than Prebble. His gut-level feel for the anxieties and prejudices of working-class and middle-class New Zealand voters had served the Labour Party well. Not that the party’s activists were ever very comfortable with the ingredients of Prebble’s political sausages. They looked at the Auckland Central MP’s bull-necked “enforcer”, Gene Leckie, and shuddered. The Labour Left was equally perturbed by the sudden influx of voluble right-wingers organised by Prebble and his fellow “Backbone Club” members (many of whom went on to join Act) as “Rogernomics” tore the Labour Party apart.

Prebble understood what so many well-meaning Labourites refused to accept: that in Labour’s “broad church” there were deep reservoirs of racism, sexism, homophobia and full-throated red-neck authoritarianism. The trick, as Prebble knew, was to keep these people voting Labour while simultaneously hiding them from public view. He also knew (as Quigley, perhaps, did not) just how many more of these folk lurked within the ranks of the National Party. Perhaps only the kiwi-gothic novelist, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, understood more about the darkness which enshrouds the heart of rural and provincial New Zealand. (In the years that followed his takeover of the Act leadership, Prebble would discover how many dark impulses also lurked in the heart of Remuera!)

In March of 1996, with the first MMP election just months away, Prebble gently moved aside Act’s classical-liberal trappings and steered it towards an unabashed courtship of the angry Right. In this regard, his party was not competing directly with either National or Labour, but with NZ First and the Christian Coalition. And precisely because Prebble was the principal wooer, Act’s blandishments were clear and unequivocal (unlike NZ First’s) and unencumbered by religious dogma (unlike the Christian Coalition’s). When the votes were counted on Election Night, Prebble’s right-wing populist Act had received 6.1% of the Party Vote – roughly six times the level of public support which Douglas’s and Quigley’s classical-liberal Act had attracted.

In the general election of 2002, Prebble topped-out Act’s support at 7.14% of the Party Vote (9 List MPs). A contemporary outburst from Prebble, directed against Helen Clark’s stated intention to increase the number of refugees admitted to New Zealand, reveals how wholeheartedly Act had embraced the right-wing populist agenda:

“There are millions of refugees around the world and instead of taking those who have most difficulty settling in New Zealand – e.g. those from desert cultures – we should look sympathetically at refugees who would have no difficulty integrating into New Zealand society. For example, white farmers being driven off their land in Zimbabwe are real refugees and they’d make good citizens but they’d never be selected by this politically correct government. These Zimbabwean farmers are homeless because they’re not politically fashionable.”

Prebble’s sudden exit from the leadership of Act in 2004 (never satisfactorily explained) heralded the slow and seemingly irreversible decline of the party’s electoral fortunes. The more distance Act’s new leader, Rodney Hide, attempted to put between himself and the party’s right-wing populist legacy the harder it became to sustain its electoral support. In the absence of National’s strategic electoral support in the Auckland seat of Epsom, Act’s determination to return to the classical-liberal principles of its founders would, almost certainly, have led to its demise.

How, then, to explain the steady rise in Act’s support since 2019? Receiving just 0.5% of the Party Vote in 2017, it has surged to 5% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll. Polite commentators point to the current Act leader’s, David Seymour’s, statesmanlike shepherding of his End of Life Choice bill through the House of Representatives. Others cite his sterling defence of the principle of Free Speech. Sadly, this will not do. The steady rise in Act’s popularity stems not from these classical-liberal stances (which barely nudged the pollsters’ dials) but from its unwavering defence of New Zealand’s gun culture in the aftermath of the Christchurch Mosque Massacres.

The signal that went out into all the dark corners of rural and provincial New Zealand could hardly have been clearer or stronger. Deliberately, or as the result of the most unfortunate political happenstance, Act had turned to the same kinds of voters Prebble had courted in 1996. While the rest of New Zealand and all the parliamentary parties, except his own, were uniting behind the call for comprehensive gun control, Seymour allowed himself to be turned into the poster-boy for the very worst sort of American-inspired political paranoia.

It’s a package-deal, of course, this far-right, conspiratorial, evidence-averse, Rapture-anticipating, 5G-fearing and Covid-19-denying rag-bag of political craziness. Buy into the “gun-owners’ rights” narrative and you risk getting all the others thrown in for free. Seymour should thank his lucky stars that his party has, too date, only had to suffer an influx of gun-owners’ rights enthusiasts. (Their spokesperson, Nicole McKee, is No. 3 on Act’s Party List.) For the moment, at least, all the other conspiracists have rallied around the “Advance New Zealand” banner raised by Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika (BTK).

It’s easy to laugh, but the astonishing numbers turning out to BTK’s rallies and the sudden surge in Act’s poll numbers point to a reservoir of popular anger and alienation that only remains hidden from “Middle New Zealand” because it so seldom finds any person or party with the ability and/or inclination to make its feelings known. Richard Prebble, who grew up in the bosom of a mass political party, has always known such people existed and where to find them. With their votes he turned Act into a genuine electoral force. The fervent response to BTK’s populist conspiracy theories proves they’re still out there – in their thousands.

The question is: If this is the “something” that Act is short of, then, surely, it is something Act should do without?


*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for interest.co.nz. His work may also be found at http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com.

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113 Comments

11
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ACT is the new National...

13
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That may be so , but Labour have become masters of lies , spin and deception , and the proletariat cannot see it

As compared to Slater-feeders, Boatman?

You're like another somewhat dissonant commentator hereabouts; sounding balanced but then recoiling into pre-ordained mantra.

Well one thing's for sure PDK.. You're definitely the master of preordained mantra, IMO. Constantly carping on about depletion of resources and the stresses and pressures of an ever burgeoning world population.

mantra are founded in belief not well measured facts - try again

I thought mantra was just something repeated ad infinitum .. like "oohmmm mani pudra" ,doesn't mean much to the rest of us - the chanters obviously believe it has some meaning- ultimately it's just background noise

Mantras change like Fashion, Fad of the day too.

Re The NZH story today about its far right members, and this today (see below) from Newsroom, you may well be right.

“One of the men at the centre of a Young ACT sexual harassment inquiry was previously removed from the organisation’s online forums for Islamophobic comments in the wake of the March 15 attacks.

This revelation comes as the ACT-affiliated youth organisation grapples with widespread issues regarding sexual harassment and abuse, rape culture, and inappropriate and potentially harmful behaviour in online spaces.“

Mind you, you hear some appalling things about the Greens, too. James Shaw is under a lot of pressure from extreme leftist members.

26
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As a gun owning hunter for over 40 years I'm sick and tired of the anti gun lobby - I'm not sure why they think that licensed gun owner are a problem? I shoot wild introduced pests an eat then - which is what the majority of us do.
If Act is the only one who can see this is an ill targeted bit of law that will achieve nothing but bureaucracy, cost and inconvenience, then Act just might get my vote to.

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Single shot hunting weapons are fine. Military style weapons designed for the mass killing of humans not so much.

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As a gun owner and regular user I see the "gun lobby" as odd - with concerning preoccupations.

I'd be interested to hear you expand on these..concerning preoccupations or has Chris covered it?

OK pureant. Here's one. Preoccupied with owning a machine thats sole usefulness is killing large animals (inc humans) when the holder of that preoccupation (1) doesnt actually hunt (2) or if there was a legitimate use, (large animal big numbers pest control) permission can be gained (5) a plain long rifle is mostly better for hunting.
Summary. Too many violent fantasies running through these peoples heads.

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..maybe some have a fantasy. That is not the issue. Its the proposed law that will do nothing but impose costs on the NZ taxpayer and inconvenience to firearms owners - whilst achieving zilch with respect to public safety.

I'd suggest the driver of a supercharged v8 monster is an equivalent of a military style weapon owner - and does more harm. Where's the line?

Last time I looked supercharged V8s weren't illegal and the ownership of them didn't make non supercharged V8 owners criminals. Your suggestion is so far out of left field it's almost "Startrek" stuff

12
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Yes, I think most New Zealanders would agree there. We’re an outdoors nation, And hunting and fishing is a huge part of our way of life. But no one needs an AK47 or the likes. Gets a bit complex with pump action shotguns and semi auto .22s, though.

But what would the street gangs and money launders do without all that high powered weaponry?

Do what they do now.. buy what they need on the BM

Continue brandishing sawn-off shotguns and 22's?

The AR15 is the recognised goto weapon for large pest (goats and wallaby) control. The AK is really more a toy for the gung ho types, it's a pretty useless firearm. They were cheap and the ammo even cheaper. Semi auto .22s and shotguns (even pinned ones) does get tricky

19
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The problem is the age old saying of "give them an inch and they will take a mile". Its why gun owners (such as my self) will fight and vote tooth and nail to protect our hobbies - yes I'll be voting ACT. I've got no problem with Semi auto center fires being restricted but banned? Why? They have been around for the last 30 years with no problem other than when the NZ Police didn't vet a new to the country immigrant and then didn't follow up when reports were made questioning his mental state. The royal commission will show this but the Bans and restrictions will have been rammed through before this comes to light.

So you are OK with voting for a far right party because, "I've got no problem with Semi auto center fires being restricted but banned" ? I would have hoped voters would take franchise more seriously?

17
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ACT are not a far right party, they are a libertarian party.

Libertarian is basically right wing to the point of when it suits them to move to the left.

Completely different axes on the graph mate.

Aren't the Aussie Liberal party a Conservative clique ?

Err, don’t think so. They are bankrolled, some say controlled, by one of New Zealand’s most right wing businessmen. Very shadowy. Read about Ayn Rand, their high priestess. Homophobic, appallingly racist, and drug addled for most of her adult life. I was on the fringe at the start back in the late 80s, and there was some mind blowingly cranky stuff being peddled around. Still is.

That seems like a completely reasonable take, I'll just take your word for it then.

There it is, it doesn't take too long for someone to cry that anything isn't the most (neo)-liberal policy/party in the world is instantly branded as FAR right wing.

Actually semi auto rifles have been around for 110 years and started and civilian firearms. The military was late to the party for political and economic reasons. The "evil" Armalite AR has been around since the late 1950s.why do we have a problem now we didn't then? I suggest other societal changes.
Tarrant picked the AR platform for his evil work to get the reaction the government has given him, which was everything he wanted. A bolt action rifle with spare magazines would have come close to the final tally, and a bomb would have been worse.
Focus on the problem, being the criminal gangs. Th egun confiscation was a political objective for the Greens in their manifesto, and Labour for years, just they never had an excuse, until Police incompetence gave it to them.

Happy with the limits on semi military style. The fact that half of most gun shops in Awkland were dedicated half their floor space to selling them was a real concern to me. When asked most were selling to recent immigrants living in apartments because they were banned from owning them in a country starting with C. Semi military's on deer is a lot of extra weight to lug around, and risks damaging to the good eating bits (why two or more bullets when one will do).

13
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Intelligent motivated and patient lone nutters (Tarrent or Brejvik) who want to do mass killings can get automatic weapons regardless of change to laws. They are small, low tech and there is a colossal amount of information available on them online. You won't stop them by outlawing semi-auto guns.
Outlawing might stop a tiny number of killings, at cost of 1000's of people hobbies and enjoyment. (I've never owned or used guns)

Such intelligent, motivated and patient lone nutters are very much in the minority, though.

Those speed limits are stopping 1000s of people enjoying their hobbies of racing around and the thrill of going fast just to save a few lives each year.

Like the autobahn?

13
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Act must be doing well in the polls

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Lol , that is the only reason for Trotters attack piece .

Its a disgrace that this lefty is given oxygen on such a reputable website , but I guess we have free speech

"Summary. Too many violent fantasies running through these peoples heads." (see KH above)
What say you Boatman?

Have you seen KH's card? You know, the one that gives him the authority to speak for everyone and to make assumptions with nothing to back him up?
I say HE is the nutter with the fantasies running through his head (wanna see MY card? Yep, it's just as authentic as his)

Agreed Boatman, only one thing I would add.. Giving Trotter a platform here reduced this site from "reputable" to "not so reputable".. Chaston might want to rethink his editorial licence for the next epistle from the likes of Trotter

It generates site visits, but I’m not sure what the USP of the site is so what is the point?

Bollox. I am generally libertarian, but Chris is an interesting and considered writer even though I disagree with a lot of what he says. Echo chambers are boring and insidiously regressive. Vive la difference.

You get oxygen... So do I.

18
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I normally love Chris Trotter's columns, but this is just rubbish. Calling David Seymour a populist is like calling our fat, lazy tabby a tiger. Same general family, as all politicians are, but totally different animal.

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What's wrong with "populism" anyway? Seems to a term invented by the few to belittle the views of the many.

Good point. Isn't JA a populist PM? What qualifies a Government or MP etc to not be populist? One which doesn't intend to keep it's promises when it gets into power? Isn't populism the entire point of democracy?

Yeh Chris Trotter might want to call out all governments to date as being populist if they haven't yet dealt with gun control and gun ownership issues that have allowed gun crime to date. I just read through the wikipedia aricle on gun law in New Zealand. John Banks regret that parliament didn't ban semi-automatics outright after Aramoana. Does that make that particular government populist in hindsight?

National needs to cut Act adrift. It’s bleeding too many votes to them with absolutely no hope of getting a ruling alliance. BTW, has anyone else noticed how truly awful the Act billboards are? Muddy black and white pics with garish lettering. Year 6 graphics class stuff.

You noticed them, so did I. They did their job.

I have a design background, that’s why. They are awful, lacking the visual oomph you need to grab attention in that brief moment as someone passes by, usually while in a car. The Greens posters are bad too, Think Ahead, Act Now? Seymour needs to send them a cheque. National’s have obviously been rushed out — Strong Team is the first slogan and recent events have shown that’s the last thing they have - that certainly raised an eyebrow!. See they’ve made Brownlee look quite a bit taller than Collins, he’s not! The only Labour one’s I’ve seen feature Ardern on her tod. As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Purely a professional opinion, mind you.

Just waiting for Kezza to chime in and say that all gun owners are gun nuts.

I bet he takes joy knowing he occupies a spot in your head. Must have really got under your skin mate

lol

David Seymour seems to be apt at pulling of the Act bait and switch. He promotes his party using (populist or working/middle class) libertarianism while most of Act's core polices are "corporate" libertarianism (letting wealthy people do whatever they want with their money to make more of it).
I would think that there would be much more than 5% of the electorate who would support smaller government to a greater extent than any other party is offering and David is capable of reaching them. He just has to decide which part of libertarianism he wants of focus on and if he is willing to give up the corporate donations.

11
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ACT will not get 4%
National and Act together will only get 39% max
The collective has moved on from meanness of spirit and divisiveness, at least for now, in NZ

Moved on from "meanness of spirit and divisiveness" to incompetence and decline. People will tire of the Coalition's poor economic management very quickly.

You over estimate the intelligence of the average voter.

So long as the Greens don't make the cut, I'll be a happy chappy

NZ cannot develop into a fully fledged first world economy without adequate revenue base for investment in infrastructure and education. ACT wants to cut tax and spending. Does not add up.
Average borrowing by governments in OECD is about 85% of GDP.
projection in 3 years is NZ will be at 60%. Rest of the club probably on 130%
And NZ is profligate??

Are we using that money to build productivity-enhancing infrastructure (e.g. busting congestion in Auckland, making it easier for our exports to get exported etc). Or are we using that debt to maintain a status-quo that erodes living standards in the form of hugely inflated housing costs that robs money from spending or investing? Just because our debt is coming off a low base does not mean we are spending it wisely.

14
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Trotter was recently trying to whip up moral outrage about the powerful religious fundamentalist support of the nats but is now absurdly insisting this same 'rapture anticipating' mob has decamped and is supporting pro end of life and cannabis liberalising Seymour. Likewise firearms owners whom he depicts as US style gun nutters, especially those in the 'dark heart of rural NZ'. Anyone with real understanding of most gun owners would be aware the vast majority bear not the slightest resemblance to Trotters fevered depiction. It's interesting to observe the sudden hysteria from entrenched leftie commentators as the nats abandon their doomed attempts to outnice the princess of nice to become a proper opposition and Seymour successfully differentiates himself. Trotter is sounding an especially conspiracy swivel eyed ranter though. Maybe they've erected a 5G tower close to his office.

14
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As one who lives in the " dark heart of rural NZ" I own three firearms, all of which I can justify. A high powered rifle in case I have to euthanase a cattle beast, a .22 which I use for rabbit control and a shotgun which I use to keep down the multitudes of pukekos that over run our property. All of these have a place and are used regularly but not often. They are part of my tools of trade. I have a firearms licence. I have never had a conviction for any offence. I should not have to justify the possession of those firearms to anybody. I will probably support ACT at the forthcoming election, not because of any firearms policy but largely because they are the only party prepared to acknowledge and defend citizens' rights to freedom of action and property rights.

Well said willy. There'll be 1000s of farmers in the same boat and thinking the same thing. BTW you forgot to add those mongrel possums.. LOL

11
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I have just looked up the definition of populist. Fits all politicians.

And surely in a democratic system where who gets the most votes wins, it pays to be popular.

Yes, rather than competent and pragmatic

12
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Well at least ACT has common-sense policies unlike the Labour and their fellow travelers the Greens , who want to take away part of our life savings in some kind on "wealth tax " , money which we earned and on which we have already paid tax , and chosen to save and invest over the years rather than spend on booze , ciggies and pokies .

Just 'part' ? A study indicated that a person who built up a $10m business would have a whopping $3m + stolen under the green bolsheviks envy tax.

That would be a 30% tax rate. Isn't the wealth tax 1%? That would be $90k per year (tax applies to wealth over the first $1m.) $90k is more than I earn in a year.

The Green's policy is 1% on wealth over 1m, and 2% on wealth over 2m. So for a person with wealth of $10m, that is $170k in wealth tax per annum. It would take 17.5 years to pay 3m in taxes at that rate, and significantly less time when you factor in corporate taxes and the personal income tax hikes.

No wonder people hate it so much. $190k might be very difficult to pay without liquidating that amount of assets every year unless large cash reserves abound. Given a lot of those assets won't be providing a liquid return that's truly horrific. I guess a silver lining could be "rich pricks" would liquidate non-productive assets to pay for the tax. The lead lining would be of course that they liquidate productive assets so they can enjoy their luxuries until they run out. What kind of ham-fisted...

The policy is completely insane. Cements the Greens solidly in the loony lefty bin.

The "envy tax" on a 10 mill business would be closer to 190K/annum. then you'd get taxed on the value of your house and any other investments, cash shares,art, PMs maybe boat and car. The tax would apply to all assets collectively.

Boatman have you had any clients raising the Green wealth tax as a concern yet?

11
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'best shot,' 'ammunition was too lightly packed,' 'Act’s cartridges would require a considerably heavier charge,' 'explosive material'

Chris, I think you have 'just shot yourself in the foot.'

Yeah.. an anarchist and gun nut if ever I read one - separatist too the way he singled out the rural community

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To think and purport that the support Act showed to law abiding gun owners was a dog whistle to some sort of underbelly is either lazy journalism or an attempt at defamation. Given the author and how he has tried to paint Act in this article as a party dredged up from the depths to appeal to racists etc I think I’ll guess at defamation.
We are not safer due to the legislation that was passed after the Chch attacks - when asked, Jacinda couldn’t even explain how it would make us safer, just offered canned virtue signalling answers.

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Totally agree Withay, that article was a scurrilous piece and an insult to both right minded, legal gun owners in particular and rural landowners and dwellers in general

Withay. Ardern has every reason to equivocate over the CHCH murders given it was under her chairpersonship the MSSA rules committee made it easier for Tarrant to get his license. Her apologists point to the police having made the recommendations her committee approved and that is correct but one wonders how many searching enquiries were made of the cops by Adern when they submitted, or was it more a lazy rubber stamp exercise. That police vetting failures were chronically deficient and thus significantly contributed to the mosque killings is beyond argument. If they'd done their job properly it would have been hugely more difficult for the animal to have acquired his weapons.

Yes how does a foreign national that has been in the country a short time obtain a firearms license?

Did they obtain an Aussie police background check?

I have asked these questions before, and no one has provided any answers. Does anyone know?

No one knows, because the Royal Commission still hasn't finished up. Didn't stop them passing the laws, though.

That exactly right re passing the law.

You would only need to ask the Police commissioner instead of waiting for the Royal Commission to find out why. They are pretty simple questions.

Is a foreign national allowed to get a firearms license by the same means as a citizen?

If I was a foreign national in the country right now, what do I have to do to obtain a firearms license?

Did they run a police background check on him?

Two things:
1.
NZ democracy, like USA, has become corrupted by money. New political parties can only be started and sustained by the very wealthy eg Robert Jones (NZF), Colin Craig (Conservative Party), Heatley (ACT). So, it can't be said we live in a true democracy. It would these days be truer to say that NZs political system is fast approaching that of a Plutocracy or an Oligarchy with the exception of Labour and the Greens.
2.
Chris, you mention the novelist Ronald Hugh Morrieson; I somewhat agree but I would give precedence to Bill Pearson's "Coal Flat" and his famous essay "Fretful Sleepers".

Easy way around your 1st point street, ban donations and have the taxpayer fund all parties.. can't see people being too keen on that.

The disengagement with and little interest in voters by list MPs under MMP shows what happens when you set up systems where politicians have little or no direct accountability to electors or dependence on their goodwill and support. State funding of parties would exacerbate the existing barely disguised disdain some list MPs have towards voters.

Agreed. Parties should stand candidates in each electorate they're interested in and we could get rid of list MPs. Might reduce the number of snouts in the trough while we're at it. State funding might trim down the number a bit though - force the parties to select only the ones with a decent chance of carrying the vote.

Agreed. Parties should stand candidates in each electorate they're interested in and we could get rid of list MPs.

National and Labour stand candidates in practically all electorates already.

Honestly I'd be in favour of 60 electorates with 2 MPs each, elected via STV.

True regarding candidates.. it's this proportionality clause that's the problem. In my world, you win the seat.. end of story. No seat - no meal. Whoever wins the most seats governs - nice and simple. I think we used have a system a bit like that once??

A government should represent a majority of the people who voted. FPP doesn't guarantee that, and in fact most governments in this country under that system were not elected by a majority.

FPP would work properly if two things happened.. the electorates were drawn on population size per electorate more accurately and people got off their @rse and voted. It was simple workable system. MMP was devised to solve a problem that only existed because of voter apathy and bureaucratic bungling. Now look at the @bortion we have as a result. A populist swing party capturing 5-7% of the vote (on election day) dictating where the country heads not on merit of policy but merely survivalism, another party that won't cut itself free from it's apron strings and be an actual foil to previously mentioned swing party, "tactical deals" to get potential partners around the electoral bargaining table.. yeah big improvement on what we had FS

Re. reducing snouts, if we had too few MPs there'd be workload issues if there weren't enough MPs to effectively do select committee work. As it is I'm pretty sure that if they actually read submissions and papers they'd be overloaded.

Really?? since when does a country of 5 mill people need 121 MPs? They've all got departmental staff to do the grunt work and advise them. There is a lot of deadweight in Parliament with list MPs doing SFA

Yes really. We have a bunch of lightweight list MPs, sure, but yes, on paper they do a lot of work at Committee. Actual work too making legislation better (if you think it's bad now, imagine how bad it could be if it wasn't put through the wringer). WRT grunt work and advising and all that, are you sure you want a country where bureaucrats make the decisions and do all of the thinking for elected representatives? We pay our politicians to keep an eye on the government and the officials too in a proportionate way. I agree with you that they should actually be doing the work, and that's why I support STV over MMP - then all MPs are electorate MPs

If we used the same population formula as we last had under FPP in 1993 to calculate the size of electorates, with 5 million people we'd now have 138.58 MPs in Parliament.

That's if you use population per electorate calcs. If you fix the the number of electorates, you just wind up with more voters/electorate, which I don't think is that bad a thing.. means there's a bit more competition for the majority vote

Hook, I think your idea of taxpayer-funded donations would lead to all manner of small parties starting up just to get their hands on some funds which as you say the taxpayers would object to.
However, I would recommend an equal ceiling for all parties contesting the election ( say $500,000 for the argument). These funds would be held by the Treasury and could be drawn upon as needed by the respective parties. Any unused funds after the election would be repaid to the parties. This method would prevent accusations of corruption which various parties have been subject to.

Yeah that could work.. see how many candidates were willing to put some of their own time and money into being elected if there wasn't enough in the kitty. Not too sure there'd be much spare left over though but it'd be better than all these donation shenanigans. I think any unused funds (and let's face it - there wouldn't be much left) just gets folded back into Treasury for the next election

And besides.. the more Parties the more representative of the community.. as long as the current 500 member requirement stays. That'd be true community driven democracy.. utter chaos but probably quite entertaining

Taxpayer to fund political parties - well I am in favour; can't see any alternative.

So what's new? When Julius Caesar was seeking a place in the Roman senate, some senators sought to disbar him on the grounds that he was not a man of property and did not meet the minimum wealth criteria of one million sesterces. Caesar's famous reply was that he " owned one million sesterces less than nothing " , and so qualified by virtue of the size of his debt.

I imagine David Seymour's star is rising because of a constellation of factors and I'm not sure why Trotter passes off free speech and the End of Life Choice Act as inconsequential. That bill was drawn from the ballot in June 2107 and ever since it has afforded Seymour a national platform on a topic dear to the heart of no less than 65 per cent of the population.
Even left-wing critics like Martyn Bradbury acknowledge his achievement in shepherding this bill through to an Act.
Also, since 2017, the drum to clamp down on free speech has been beaten more energetically — most notably by Andrew Little and Golriz Ghahraman. A lot more people care about free speech than Trotter imagines.
Most of all, Seymour has shown himself to be principled and that is something many people find impressive even if they may balk at some of his policies.

One thing I will go on record as saying.. I thought interest.co was a relatively editorially non partisan website. Printing this article by Trotter has completely discounted that impression. There is one thing posting articles to promote discussion and discourse.. Trotters article takes things well beyond that. IMO it is a step too far.
Chaston lets hear your justification for allowing Trotter's rubbish to gain a platform

This website publishes articles about all sides of the political spectrum. Indeed by doing so it encourages debate on the relative merits of all sides of the political spectrum. By complaining about the publishing of an article by CT presenting a history and perspective of the Act Party are you trying to suppress political debate? It seems the person who is presenting an objectionable perspective here is you.

DC printed a vacuous piece by Act’s deputy Brooke van Velden a week or so back. Now that was rubbish. Ironic that the party whose views you’re espousing backs free speech. Ho ho....

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What a scummy piece of opinion this is. It merely serves to show the author's hubris and disdain for the intelligence and level mindedness of the readership. Can anyone think of a touchstone or buzzword he didn't hit?
Let me summarise his piece for those short of time. "Anyone who thinks differently than me is a nutter and lives in the dark corners of the edge of society" He tries to invoke Smith's Dream in an attempt to discredit a minor party that all of a sudden is polling higher than he and the rest of his 'Right think' underworld team mates like. The very fact that ACT is polling at this level should be a warning to the opponents of free speech and rights of ownership. The very fact that the proponents of left wing state control and armed police operating outside the law are now found to be supporters if not members of the Labour and Green parties should sound the alarm bells for EVERYBODY.

Well said Wazim, the author is a left wing dinosaur. The editor that allowed it to be posted needs to take a good long hard look in the mirror,, especially after said editor gently admonished me for questioning the majority sale by a Fin. Adviser of a certain company's shares, apparently I was bordering on libel. I'd say Trotter went well and truly over the line with that article and posting it is a slur on the people who read this site.. IMO

Libertarians come across as the cattle rancher in every Western - using wealth and property rights to ride roughshod over the wider community of sheep farmers, croppers and townsfolk in the name of progressing their own cause. With the bankers in the pocket and a private army to back them up, it is up to a social reprobate sheriff to rally the people and stand up to the tyranny. Trotter fancies himself as a sharp shooting progressive in the face of an insurmountable status quo - not sure why you'd be surprised or expect anything else.

If ACT wins more seats in the Parliament, it will be solely due to the attractiveness of the baby faced Seymour, not for any of their shining policies. At last ACT has moved on from Rodney Hide and people are loving it....

Whoever drew the picture of the gun for this article has no idea how guns work.

The pistol grip, what's with that? It looks like an MP 40 magazine. Incredibly uncomfortable looking and far too long.The cartridges are also way too long for the magazine. The bullets simply wouldn't fit in. They also appear to be rimfire which is most unlikely. If so it would be using the tiny .22 and would need a curved or drum magazine.

The trigger guard looks like it was drawn by a child. The magazine would generally be longer than the pistol grip and the spent cartridges should eject directly above the magazine. They wouldn't tumble down but would fly out the side. We can see six spent cartridges with one still in the receiver so it must be on fully automatic making it unlikely that smoke would be gently rising from the muzzle at this moment..

Artists should study the anatomy of their subjects!

This is called a Caricature.

Perhaps even a naive caricature? I know but I couldn't resist the opportunity of an autistic rant.

I guess I loosely fall into the “gun nut” category myself, though I only had a more practical interest in owning military style firearms since I used them for pest control and culling goats on my farm and neighbours properties.
I do agree with some aspects of the firearm law changes, in the sense that the previous laws were half baked and had loopholes everywhere which allowed a lot more people to own “military style” firearms under the guise of them being sporting firearms than was probably desirable. Plus the alarming oversight that there were no laws at all against unlicensed people being able to buy high capacity magazines and other parts to turn normal sporting firearms into military style firearms like the ones I had.
What we got though, was a big over reaction from parliament in basically banning them completely. Too their credit at least the government have realised they went a bit too far and have rolled back the laws a bit so that farmers and land owners like myself are able to apply for a prohibited licence to own military style firearms again where they are required for pest control activities. I currently hold a now obsolete E category endorsement for pest control so presumably it would be achievable for me to get the new P endorsement if I needed it again.

Oh well, I sold my military style firearms and accessories at a police buy back, and was very pleased with the price I received and actually made an extremely healthy profit on one of them. The buy back came at a convenient time for me as well and the money I got was straight away used as a good chunk of the deposit for my new house.

I do appreciate ACT for standing up for my rights on principle though, I do feel like licences firearm owners have been scapegoated for a problem caused by our laws being a mess and the enforcement of them through our police being even messier. The fact that an Australian with an extensive criminal history can get a NZ firearm licence without any background checks from Australia, is frankly ridiculous. Licenced people barely even rate a mention in terms of homicides in NZ, apart from Tarrant, the only other person with a firearms licence to kill someone intentionally in the last decade was a police officer who shot his wife and her lover.
The way that the new laws were aimed at people who were not the problem is what hurt the most, and so much money was wasted on the buy back to take firearms from responsible people like myself, yet the police only ask the gangs nicely to hand theirs in if they please, the gangs have said no and the police seem to have decided not to press the matter any further.

I will vote for ACT for the first time this year because I support a party that wants to target the actual problem rather than find a quick and easy solution to look like they are doing something like Ardern did with these firearm laws.

I'm ex-military and trained in the use of those firearms, and i guess you could label me a 'gun nut' too, although i didn't have any qualifying weapons, but i do agree. This problem was rooted in the Police failing to do their job, not the risk the 'gun nuts' posed to society. Now the country's problem is that the serious weapons are in the hands of the outlaws with little political will to take serious action to address this.

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