WHY ACT? A personal statement
When I first became politically aware, I was well to the left on the political spectrum. I was never Marxist, but certainly Christian socialist. For me, being a Christian meant being a socialist. I believed in an active role for a benevolent government; I supported raising the minimum wage; I was suspicious of foreign direct investment; I agreed that high income people should not only pay more tax than low income people, they should pay much more; and I was a Christian pacifist.
I gradually came to realise, as many others in ACT have done before me, that big government socialism does not in fact deliver the benefits which I originally believed, that raising the minimum wage may simply create more unemployment, that foreign direct investment almost always benefits the host country, that over-taxing the affluent may actually harm those on low incomes, and that in the modern world the use of armed force is sometimes the only option.
The National Party seemed to reflect my values. National's vision statement (on the National Party website) talks about limited government, personal responsibility, individual freedom and choice, equal citizenship, strong families, sustainable development of our environment, loyalty to our country and national and personal security. So I had no problem identifying with the National Party, either in the early eighties when I was a National Party candidate in East Coast Bays or after I came out of my long period of political neutrality as Governor of the Reserve Bank in 2002.
In 2005, I led the National Party into the general election on a policy platform which broadly reflected those values. And no, the National Party didn't quite win that election, though National got a higher share of the total vote that year than in any election since 1990 - despite Labour's interest-free student loan bribe and Labour's over-spending the legal spending limit on its campaign by some 25%.
In 2008, the National Party won the election of course, and I welcomed that. But since that time the National-led Government has been a huge disappointment to me and to many thinking New Zealanders. It seems to give little weight to the values which it proclaims.
So I became increasingly frustrated - indeed, angry. The Government ignored National's previous commitment to equal citizenship, made no serious attempt to lift living standards in New Zealand relative to those in Australia, voted against Sir Roger Douglas's bill to reinstate youth minimum wages, and continued on with the wasteful spending programmes which National had railed against when Labour introduced them. The Government introduced an Emissions Trading System, despite none of our major trading partners doing anything similar.
In late 2010 and early 2011, I was approached by several people who felt equally let down by the Government, and I eventually decided I could no longer stand on the side-lines. The ACT Party stands for the same values as National claims to stand for, and the policies which ACT is promoting are those which I believe in and promoted to the New Zealand people in 2005. So my decision to seek a better future for all New Zealanders with ACT was an easy one.
I very much hope that ACT can make a major contribution to New Zealand's once again becoming the prosperous and harmonious country which we all want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.