ACT Auckland Campaign Closing
Speech by ACT Auckland Central Candidate David Seymour
Friday, November 25 2011
Six months ago I did a short course in Washington D.C. The course was called the Campaign Management Institute and it
was about political campaigning.
I was keen to learn about the politics and campaigning there, but it turned out to be a bit simpler than I thought.
‘Elections are about choices,’ the lecturer said.
Elections are about choices. I started to wonder if they were going to tell me anything interesting. But sometimes the
simplest turns out to be the best. And as we close this campaign and turn the choices over to the voters tomorrow, I can
see what he meant.
ACT has played an honourable role in offering the voter choices in this campaign, and tomorrow those choices couldn’t be
The first choice is purely strategic, and only in one electorate.
I happen to be a centre-right Epsom voter myself, and to us in Epsom the choice couldn’t be clearer.
I could vote for Paul Goldsmith, and get Paul Goldsmith who’s already going to be an MP off the National Party list
anyway. It would be a bit like buying a Christmas present that you already know is in Santa’s sack.
But I’m going to vote for John Banks. I’m going to vote for Banksie because he’s a legend. A guy that started out
sleeping under Grafton Bridge and built up his own restaurant chain, adopted three kids from the other side of the world
and brought them to the greatest country on Earth, and has already had a bigger political career than almost anyone in
New Zealand politics today.
Moreover, as a centre-right Epsom voter, I know that a vote for John Banks is MMP insurance. A vote for Banksie is a
vote for Paul Goldsmith, John Banks, and the ACT team.
As the polls tighten up all eyes will turn to Epsom tomorrow night, and that choice will be the choice between keeping
John Key as Prime Minster, or turning the Government benches over to Phil Goff supported by a coterie of borrowers,
spenders, and no-hopers.
National might just make MMP history and squeak in alone tomorrow night, but they won’t do it twice in a row. Without
ACT as a long term coalition partner, National will have a choice of their own. Either move dramatically to the left or
spend a very long time in the political wilderness.
Inside the choice of whether to have a viable centre right, there are policy choices.
In all the candidate debates I’ve seen, those choices are crystal clear.
The Labour Party offer 1970s economic policy.
We can keep a flexible labour market where wages and jobs depend on what customers are willing to pay for what workers
produce. Or, Labour could take us back to the 70s with a central government agency setting wages for entire industries.
We can keep what is internationally recognised as one of the best central banking systems in the world, a system that
keeps prices stable and lets people get on with business. Or, Labour would take us back to the 70s by, as my Auckland
Central opponent Jacinda Ardern likes to put it, ‘giving the Reserve Bank Governor more tools’. What she really means is
letting the reserve bank play dice with our money supply, a bit like the U.S. Federal Reserve was before the Great
We can keep one of the cleanest and simplest tax systems in the world. Or, Labour would take us back to the 70s with a
Capital Gains tax, a tax that raises little revenue, is difficult to enforce and comply with, and slows down investment.
We can keep raising wages by raising productivity. Or, Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, and the Mana Party would
take us back to the 70s by trying to put up wages by legislating a much higher minimum wage. You just have to ask
yourself, who are all the countries in history that have legislated themselves rich?
We can keep to the consensus that governments picking winners and trying to invest your money better than you can is
wrong. I thought that Muldoon’s’ Think Big’ policies had inoculated us against such misadventures. Or, we could have a
Green Party Minister playing with a billion bucks worth of your taxpayer money, investing in Clean Energy, taking on the
General Electrics, Siemens and Samsungs of the world. You just have to ask yourself, if you knew what the next big thing
in the energy industry was, would you be working at it and investing in it or would you be standing for the Green Party?
Maori and Mana would like to have a Financial Transaction Tax. Tariana Turia says it could generate $22 billion per
year. She should know that the entire revenue of the Financial and Insurance sectors combined was only $12 billion in
2009. They would be paying 183 per cent tax. We’d have no financial sector and be back to bartering overnight.
We can continue to be the only nation in the world that has made a better fist of bringing together different cultures
than anywhere else, or we can go down the path of constitutional biculturalism, where there are different laws for
different races, as Mana and the Maori Party would have us.
Folks, beneath the choice of giving the Centre Right a viable coalition, or giving power away to the coalition of the
left for a very long time are some very significant policy choices.
But the choice is not just about whether or not we have a centre right government, but whether we have a very good one.
Between giving a party vote to National, or a Party Vote to ACT, there are more choices.
Whenever John Key ducks a hard choice he says he wants to ‘take people with him’. The thing is, I’m not exactly sure
whether he knows where he’s going.
With National the Emissions Trading Scheme will soon be taking $100 per month out of a household of four to pay for tree
planting and foreign carbon credits. ACT says we should put that money back into the economy and let those households
spend it themselves.
With National we’ll be keeping the pension age at 65 come hell or high water. No matter that the Retirement Commissioner
says we must raise it, or that half the developed world is in the process of raising theirs, or that in my lifetime
there’ll be only two workers to support every superannuitant. ACT says we need to recognise demographic and fiscal
reality, and would put the pension age question to a public vote.
With National we’ll be keeping Helen Clark’s election bribe spending that has drained the life from the productive
sector with punishing taxes today and irresponsible borrowing to be repaid tomorrow. ACT says we need to get real about
With National we’ll be tinkering with the Frankenstein Resource Management Act legislation. The legislation that has
armies of bureaucrats policing the colours people paint their houses at the ratepayers’ own expense, will remain
essentially unchanged. ACT says that the RMA needs a radical overhaul so New Zealanders can get on with developing and
using their property.
With National our education system will continue to operate like McDonalds, where the bureaucrats in the Ministry decide
what children are taught, how, and by whom. ACT says we should return power over how schools are run to the people who
know the children and the schools best. Parents, principals, and teachers.
With National there is no good reason to think that New Zealand will close the income gap with Australia, as we haven’t
in the past three years. ACT says we should professionally measure that gap and relentlessly pursue its closure by 2030.
These are the choices this election.
There is the strategic choice in Epsom.
There are the broad policy choices between the left and the right.
Then there are the choices about the flavour of any future centre right government.
But beneath these headline choices is a much simpler one.
Do we think New Zealand is worth it?
If we do, then a Party Vote for ACT is a vote for sound economic management. It’s a vote for New Zealand to be a first
world country that can afford first world public services and offer first world opportunity to the next generation.
If we don’t then the other parties will take us up the garden path. Some of us will try to vote ourselves rich in the
short term but all of us will be poorer in the long term.
When it comes to rational economic management, I can’t think of a better champion than Don Brash.
Like John Banks, Don is a legend.
He has a PhD in Economics and both his Masters and PhD Thesis were published books.
He worked for five years for the World Bank in Washington.
He had a successful career as a private sector banker.
He was the second longest serving Reserve Bank Governor in this country’s history, and the Economist magazine called him
‘the world’s best central banker’.
I don’t think there’s anyone alive today who understands the New Zealand eonomy better than Don Brash.
I can’t think of a better voice to have in parliament during an economic crisis, while New Zealand is in a long term
economic decline relative to our trading partners, than Don Brash.
That’s why, in the polling booth tomorrow you need to give your party vote to ACT.