Act 2, different Act or new Act?

September 25, 2011

A few months ago Don Brash mused over whether he was better to join Act or start a whole new party.

A party is more than its MPs and candidates but they are its public face and with the announcement that John Bowscawen isn’t going to seek re-election for Act, it looks like Brash has effectively done both.

He joined Act but after the election, however well it does, it will have a completely new caucus , albeit that two of its members – John Banks, if he wins Epsom, and Brash himself, if there are enough party votes for a second MP, have been in parliament before as National MPs.

The question is: will this be Act 2, a different Act or a completely new Act  altogether?

If I was ranking Act’s list . . . Updated

August 28, 2011

. . . it would be:

1. Don Brash.

2. Cathy Odgers.

3. John Bowscawen

It gets difficult after that. I don’t know enough about any of the other candidates to know if Don Nicolson should come next and I’m not sure his abrasive style would help foster the much-needed unity in Act’s caucus.

If John Banks can’t win Epsom he’ll have failed his party and its supporters and therefore should be well down the list or better still not on it at all.

The list will be announced at 3pm.


The list  has 27 places the top 10 are:

1.     Dr Don Brash

2.     Hon John Boscawen

3.     TBC

4.     Don Nicolson

5.     Hon John Banks

6.     David Seymour

7.     Chris Simmons

8.     Stephen Whittington

9.     Kath McCabe

10.   Robyn Stent

Kiwiblog has the percentage of party vote needed for each to get in. On current polling, if Banks wins Epsom they’d just get a couple.

The party usually does better in the election than polls and the yet to be confirmed #3 might be someone who can broaden the party’s appeal.

Roarprawn reckons the list shows Act of old.

Whaleoil has more from his tipline.

The answer’s more important than the question

June 21, 2009

Kerre Woodham has got to grips with the referendum question:

. . . What he was saying was, should a bunch of poxy lefties, many of them childless, be telling me what to do in my own home? Although the question reads: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?”

For the terminally confused and bewildered, commas will help you out enormously. Using commas, the question basically reads as: “Should a smack be a criminal offence?” See? Easy.

The other side would have asked: “Should the striking of children as part of lazy parenting be allowed?” Put in the commas and it’s: “Should the striking of children be allowed?” You can see the loaded messages behind each brief question.

Kerre points out that most of the almost 92% who voted in favour of Norm Withers’ petition on violent crime, weren’t answering the convoluted question which included a prescription for hard labour. They were expressing their anger and concern about increasing violence and an apparent disconnect between the law and justice.

They answered another question and by doing so made the answer more important than the question.

I suspect there will be a similar result in the child discipline referendum. Partly because, as Kerre said, many people don’t like being told what to do. But even more so because they don’t believe parents should be criminalised, or even at risk of it, for administering a minor smack.

Some people aren’t going to vote because the question is loaded.

Loaded or not the intent is clear and I’m going to vote because I value the right to do so.

I’m not going to vote yes because I think the current law is a bad one. Stephen Franks explains why:

. . . everyone is criminalised for smacking.

That’s the way criminal law works in rule of law countries. It applies to everyone equally. Whether or not you are an offender does not depend on the mood or political inclinations of those armed with the state’s coercive authority. It depends on what the law says, and what you’ve done. The law is not the plaything or the tool of the ruler. All are subject to it, whether or not the ruler decides not to enforce it, or enforces it the way he’d prefer it was written.

The right of private prosecution is precious for that reason. Otherwise rulers can play favourites, and decide who benefits and who is damaged by the law. In other words the enforcer is given the power to effectively make up the law as they go along.

And that is exactly what the compromise in the current law does. It says everyone who smacks is criminal, but the the Police are to decide which ones pay the price. Not the Courts, not Parliament, but the Police.

 I could make an invalid vote by crossing out both yes and no and I haven’t yet discounted that option.

But nor have I discounted voting no.

Smacking is not a good way to discipline children and anyone who thinks they can smack a child “lovingly” has a corrupted view of love.

But should a parent who lightly smacks a child – in what is almost always a spur of the moment reaction to dangerous or disruptive behaviour be criminalised for doing so ?

Should police time be wasted on investigating a minor smack?

My answer to both those questions is no and because of that I am beginning to think that I will vote no .

In spite of a concerted effort from highly regarded organisations which advocate on behalf of children to get people to vote “yes”, I think the result of the child discipline referendum will be a resounding no.

National and Labour both know the damage this issue did to the previous government and both would like it to go away.

But I think they’re underestimating the strength of feeling about it. Not just from the extremists but from moderate people who don’t think smacking is good but don’t want parents criminalised for doing it.

Chester Burrows had a way round that problem with an amendment which meant no-one could get away with violence through a “reasonable force” defence in Section 59 of the Crimes Act. John Bowscawen offers a similar option in a private member’s bill.

The government doesn’t want to get sidetracked on relatively unimportant issues. But bad law makes little issues big issues and until this one is dealt with it will fester.

It’s a blokes’ race so far

May 3, 2009

Labour has selected David Shearer to contest the Mount Albert by-election.

The party has often criticised National for not having enough women MPs, but gender obviously wasn’t enough to sway votes in this selection although I think  – and please correct me if I’ve got this wrong – Helen Clark, who held the seat until she resigned last month, was the only woman to hold an Auckland electorate for Labour after last year’s election.

Labour does have Auckland-based female list MPs.

Act selected list MP John Bowscawen yesterday and Green party co-leader Russel Norman is contesting the seat for his party.

National’s selection will take place tomorrow with List MP Melissa Lee and Ravi Musuku, who contested the seat last year, seeking the candidacy.

Bowscawen Act candidate for Mount Albert

May 2, 2009

Act list MP John Bowscawen has been selected as his party’s candidate to contest the Mount Albert by-election.

I doubt that even he believes he could win but if he did then, as Kiwiblog explains,  Hilary Calvert, number six on Act’s list would come in to parliament to replace him.

If National list MP Melissa Lee was selected as the candidate and won the next on her party’s list, Cam Calder, would enter parliament and if the Green candidate,  list MP Russel Norman , won the seat then the Greens would get a 10th MP from the list.

With any of these scenarios the party which won the seat would also get an extra list MP and have a total of one more MP than they do now, as they would if a candidate who wasn’t already in parliament on the list won the seat.

If a Labour list MP stood and won then the next one on their list, Judith Tizard, would enter parliament but since no list MPs are standing if their candidate wins they keep the seat but wouldn’t get anyone else on the list and either way they finish with the same number of MPs as they have now.

However, if their candidate lost the seat Labour would not be entitled to another list MP so have one fewer MP than they do now.

The National-led government has a comfortable majority so that wouldn’t make any difference to the balance of power this time. But if the government and opposition numbers were very close a gain of an MP for one and a loss for the other, increasing the difference between them by two, could be significant.

I understand that once a list MP is in parliament s/he keeps her/his seat even if a by-election win gives her/his party one more MP than the list vote at the general election entitled them too.

I also understand why a list MP winning a seat his/her party held allows another list MP in because that retains proportionality.

But I don’t understand why a list MP winning a seat her/his party didn’t hold, which maintains proportionality, entitles the party to another list MP while a party which lost a seat isn’t entitled to another list MP in replacement when both scenarios upset proportionality.

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