ACT ACT gets a top score for calling out genocide. That’s something you can really only get a pass or fail grade on, and congratulations ACT – you pass and get a special commendation for starting the debate. Beyond that, one can also give ACT a healthy score on being parliamentary pitbulls. No matter what the government does, you can bet your bottom dollar that ACT will have a problem with it. ACT’s played out culture war position as the heroes of free speech is a little tired after years of the same debate being played out overseas but they know that, they’ve just seen it work and want to give it a crack themselves. For the big issues of the day, ACT has something of a catch all solution – scrapping regulation. In particular, dismantling the Resource Management Act in order to free up more land for housing development despite whatever environmental impacts that might have, and opposing rent controls on the basis of the fact that they’re an unfair tax on rental owners who will have to meet costs beyond what they can screw out of their tenants.
The Green Party
The Green Party is finally in a position to say whatever they want – nobody’s going to pull them aside and ask them to toe the line because, well, nobody needs them this time around. The Greens get a pass for their genocide position, though they don’t get a special gold star for it like ACT does because they got there late. The Greens are currently pushing for rent controls to help alleviate some of the symptoms of the nation’s housing crisis. It’s a noble pursuit, but the flipside of not being needed in government is that you’re not needed in government, so it’s fair to say that the Greens’ policy is unlikely to make its way into law undiluted. Where the Greens have most recently put their principles on display is in Marama Davidson and Elizabeth Kerekere attending what they describe as a “successful hui” with the Mongrel Mob Kingdom. If ever there was an A+ mark in a democratic system, it would apply to Kerekere’s sentiment that “… going to talk to people other people won’t listen to, that’s what Greens do”.
Labour is in something of a bizarre position. They won the big game, they scored the top prize, however you want to think of it, the Labour Party’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was admirable and largely successful. Beyond that, they have suffered consistent criticism for their perceived overly paternalistic governing style, their substance-lacking culture of “be kind” rhetoric, Trevor Mallard and rape allegations, unfulfilled promises on housing, and now Labour MPs can’t even be diagnosed with cancer without being dogpiled. Some of these criticisms are earned, some are the result of poor PR, and others still (and I think you can guess which) are needlessly cruel and unnecessary. Labour has, however late, moved to ban conversion therapy, but whatever justice grade they have for that move can be tempered by their dilution of ACT’s motion to condemn the genocide of Uyghur in China, instead preferring to describe the forced assimilation, separation of families, and destruction of mosques by the thousands, as merely “possible human rights abuses”. Labour’s next big assignment, the restructuring of the healthcare system and a particular focus on Māori health outcomes, is yet to be submitted so we will have to reserve our grade for a later scorecard.
The National Party has fallen flat on its face. Once upon a time they were straight A students, once upon a time they could do no wrong, once upon a time they could get elected three times without actually doing anything of any great merit. Now, their leadership is bafflingly mediocre, their “racial separatism” boogeyman is an embarrassing pandering to New Zealand’s racists. No amount of slippery slope arguments or “Māori will get their own laws” talking points could make Judith Collins’ National Party at all appealing – yet their attempt to stoke division speaks volumes. Perhaps we as a Nation get a low score on being racist, if this is considered a viable strategy by a major political party. The PM likened National’s current talking point to Don Brash’s 2004 Orewa speech, an equally fear mongering and dog-whistling “anti-separatism” speech, by way of comparing National’s polling numbers then to what they are now – the little boost from Orewa appears very much the planned outcome of this latest message. “This divisive government document spells out a clear vision for New Zealand in 2040 under a ‘two systems’ treaty view. It includes two systems for health, two systems of justice” said Judith Collins at her recent presentation to the National Party’s Northern conference.
The Māori Party is back with renewed vigour. The drawback is that they find themselves regularly being sidetracked in the public discourse by poor portrayals of cowboy hat and necktie debates. That and the whole serious fraud office thing, which isn’t a good look for anybody. Honest mistake or not, $328,000 is no small sum and a failure to declare donations on time has landed the Party in hot water with the serious fraud office. Otherwise, the Māori Party, true to form, has maintained its course as advocates for Māori health outcomes through supporting Labour’s new health plan with co-leader Rawiri Waititi describing it as “a courageous move in the right direction.” The Māori Party has laid out its path for the next two years as one of holding the government accountable to its promises, and upholding Treaty of Waitangi obligations.