INDEPENDENT NEWS

United Future Today - From the Leader

Published: Fri 1 Nov 2002 11:42 AM
United Future Today - No.5, Fri, Nov 1, 2002.
From the Leader
As we prepare ourselves for United Future New Zealand’s first post-election victory conference in Auckland on November 16, I’ve been musing over the reasons behind the success of United Future
For the past 40 years, politics around the world has been defined by issues that arose in the 1960’s. You’ll recall President John F Kennedy and the New Avalon - the sense that if only people of good will came together, we could save the environment, conquer space, preserve our social and architectural heritage and live a more spiritual, less materialistic, consumer-driven lifestyle.
These politics of the hopeful 60’s spawned three types of political reaction;
· the cause-dominated left who sought to become the conscience of the world over issues such as the Vietnam War, apartheid and nuclear weaponry;
· the single-issue fundamentalists of both right and left such as extreme nationalists, anarcho-feminists and environmental fundamentalists;
· and the traditional conservatives, who sought to preserve the trappings of the past, while simultaneously grabbing the riches presented by the technological/commercial boom.
The trouble with these approaches are that they are shallow and lead to barren ends.
For example, once the causes went away, the left was reduced to pursuing the sterile goal of total political correctness; the single-issue fanatics are blinded by their own tunnel vision; and the traditional conservatives have found themselves engaged in increasingly frivolous lives chasing meaningless trophies. One has only to look at the multi-billionaires in the America’s Cup syndicates for an example of that.
President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair - and in our own country, Steve Maharey - all tried to address this political vacuum with the so-called “Third Way, an ill-defined effort to chart a new passage between the extremes of right and left. This is a temporary solution, not a long-term answer. It gave the left international success in the 90’s, but a new paradigm is emerging.
I believe we are now seeing the death of ideological rigidity as the path forward in politics.
The increasing complexity of life is forcing the voters to look to a new simplicity.
This simplicity is based on recognising the cornerstone role of families; realising that societies and nations exist for a purpose, not just in a vacuum; the need for social markers, not shackles; and the role of heritage and tradition as guides to the future.
The converse of this new approach is that it’s no longer good enough just to look back and seek to re-assert traditional ideological principles of the past. This is the political approach - recently espoused by the National Party - that says ‘If only people know what we stand for, they’ll vote for us’.
The danger of this, as National has shown, is that the voters knew all too well what they stood for and shunned them overwhelmingly.
Classic liberalism has always recognised the primacy of the individual - not as an isolated unit - but living in and being part of the wider community with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.
If you understand that, then you can understand why United Future, with its policies of the primacy of the family, emphasis on individual liberties and community responsibilities, and plain commonsense, did so well at the last election. Regards, Peter
Thoughts of the Month
WHERE WE STAND
Recently, we’ve come under attack from other political parties for being too friendly with the Government. Some attacks were simply untrue so I thought it might be helpful to include our position on some current legislation.
Operational Safety and Health Amendment Bill - I have already described this Bill as being on “the lunatic fringe of lawmaking” with its excessively heavy fines on employers if they fail to recognise undefined ‘stress’ levels in their employees. The Bill has been reported back from select committee with some changes, but we remain unconvinced this is a Bill that will promote the good health of business in New Zealand. This could turn out to be the Slackers’ Charter whereby the idle and the malcontent try to get the State and employers to fund a work-free lifestyle. Climate Change Response Bill - this Bill, which has been reported back from the select committee, does not ratify the Kyoto protocol governing greenhouse gas emissions, but establishes the mechanisms that will allow the protocol to be enforced once ratification has occurred. United Future has concerns that ratification too early will place New Zealand business at a serious disadvantage to overseas competitors who either will not, or are not obliged, to go along with the restrictions on releasing greenhouse gases. This is a fluid situation as countries who were previously opposed to ratification are being persuaded to change their stance. Other concerns with the Bill cover excessive powers of search and seizure being given to bureaucrats and whether the Bill breaches the Bill of Rights. We continue to oppose the Bill.
Local Government Law Reform Bill (No.2) - this Bill which, among other things, gives local bodies much greater powers to undertake major projects on their own initiative, has raised fears in the rural community that their rates bills will skyrocket. It will soon be reported back from select committee with so many amendments that our man on the committee, Larry Baldock, thinks it probably should be re-rewritten and affected bodies given a chance to comment further. As this is the last chance probably for the next 20 years to get local body reform right, United Future thinks there’s no need for this legislation to be rushed through while so many questions about it remain.
OTHER MATTERS
With the abrupt departure of Dr Ross Armstrong from his government posts, the Greens and National are attempting to make political points out of the whole concept of public-private partnerships for improving New Zealand’s infrastructure. United Future is firmly of the view that these PPP’s are essential for the economic health of New Zealand. Their establishment should not be held up because of one man’s misjudgements or opposition parties’ narrow aims.
SUPPORTING PROCEDURE VERSUS SUPPORTING POLICY
You may have seen recent criticism from our political opponents that United Future is helping the Labour-led government pass bad legislation, through our support for procedural motions such as urgency in the House. This criticism is usually coupled with a demand that United Future vote with the Opposition to frustrate the government’s plans in the House.
These allegations are unfounded and rest on a complete misunderstanding of New Zealand’s current political arrangements.
We have always taken our lead from the New Zealand voters. They chose Labour to lead the Government, with United Future as a moderating influence.
Through our confidence and supply agreement with the Government, we have guaranteed New Zealand at least three years of stable Government. If we were to accede to our opponents’ demands that we vote against the Government procedurally on every occasion we disagreed with them, the House would soon descend into chaos and eventually would lead to yet another general election.
Recent political history has shown that the voters do not like instability and they punish severely any party they see as having contributed to it.
In that light, the demands from our opponents can be seen for what they really are; an invitation to commit political suicide.
United Future’s more reasoned, sensible attitude is to let the Government govern, while at the same time constantly seeking to influence, modify and otherwise abate the worst aspects of Labour’s policy programme.
A good example is the anti-business OSH Amendment Bill now before the House. We will not vote to allow this to be passed under urgency because we think it is a very bad piece of legislation. The Government, of course, will go to the Greens seeking their support for passage under urgency. The irony for the Greens will be deciding whether their passion to vote for anti-business law will outweigh their dislike for legislation passed under urgency.
CONFERENCE REMINDER
Just a reminder that our Victory Conference is at the Heritage Hotel, Hobson St, Auckland on Saturday, November 16. The registrations are rolling in already. If you want to be part of the celebrations, send your details and a $50 registration cheque per person, plus $50 per person for the Saturday dinner (optional) to: United Future, P O Box 13 236 Wellington.
CHRISTCHURCH OFFICE OPENING
The first of United Future’s new MP’s offices opened in the heart of Christchurch on the 14th of this month. It also marked the formal opening of United Future’s South Island presence.
The opening festivities began with a traditional Maori blessing followed by a welcome by Marc Alexander who spoke of his vision for the office. He outlined his commitment to ensure the office became a forward thinking and proactive hub not only for Christchurch but beyond to the upper reaches of the South Island.
“It is vitally important that United Future’s presence be an advocacy for people, families …so that we build bridges where there were none, and help create an environment of empowerment to strengthen our sense of community,” he said.
Peter Dunne, leader of United Future, commented on the commitment of the whole caucus, Party president Inky Tulloch and deputy leader Anthony Walton, as was evident by their exuberant attendance, in forging a strong united Parliamentary team eager to work on behalf of constituents.
There were also very warm words by City Councillor and law and order advocate Norm Withers who welcomed United Future to the city.
The promise of United Future was always to cut through ideologies and return to practical, commonsense solutions that work. The Christchurch office is the start of an ambitious program to network a direct line from the parliamentary wing of United Future to the people in our community, and if the opening is anything to go by, the future is certain to be very bright indeed!
COMMISSION FOR THE FAMILY
Progress on the Commission for the Family is coming on really well. Discussions with the Government have been constructive and fruitful. We are working on possible functions and structure the Commission will take.
Judy Turner and Anthony Walton have been involved in extensive consultation with community groups and individuals working closely with families, in an attempt to ascertain from them what functions they believe a Family Commission will perform. All those consulted with thus far, have been fully supportive of the Commission.
We hope to be making an announcement with the Government before the end of the year.

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