Saturday, 19 December 2009

Hide saved by Key; Snap Election considered

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide survived a debate over his leadership last month, according to NZ Herald political reporter Audrey Young.

The challenge to Hide's leadership of ACT was apparently led by deputy leader Heather Roy, and party founder Sir Roger Douglas.

The debate came to a head in late November, following the controversy over Hide's use of his parliamentary overseas travel allowance for his partner Louise Crome. The trip wasn't seen as a good for prolific perk-buster Rodney Hide, although Sir Roger Douglas has also been a heavy user of the overseas travel entitlement, including personal family visits in England.

ACT's only electorate MP, Epsom-based Hide formally apologised to the party's board and MPs after the media controversy, and confirmed he would pay back all the travel costs.

However while the leadership issue was discussed, any considerations of a challenge were dropped, after Prime Minister John Key indicated dumping Hide as ACT leader could end the party's coalition support agreement with the National Party.
Key told Heather Roy that her own Consumer Affairs ministerial portfolio would be in danger if ACT chose a new leader. Audrey Young says the squabbling within the Government's two support parties - ACT and the Maori Party - had John Key considering the idea of a snap election.

If true, that just indicates the National Party still fails to understand the MMP system, and is blinded by polling. Key's snap election idea was to try and give the National Party an outright majority in Parliament, rather than relying on minor parties for support to put through legislation.

However, despite the apparent continuing honeymoon in the polls for National, it is highly unlikely that voting under NZ's MMP system would actually have resulted in the National Party winning over 50% of the vote.

Minor parties traditionally fare much better at election time than polling would suggest in the rest of the parliamentary cycle.
National has also alienated many of its traditional supporters recently, pushing through an unpopular (and totally unnecessary) Emissions Trading Scheme (to "keep pace with Australia"??!), along with a failure to roll back any of Labour's excessive welfare regimes.

Key also rejected the 87.4% vote in a citizens-initiated referendum about Sue Bradford's "anti-smacking" bill, essentially dismissing the views of 1,470,755 voters. Key and English were also lightening quick to dismiss suggestions from a taskforce led by Don Brash, looking at how to bridge the income gap with Australia by 2025.
The Nats are lucky that many supporters just could not stomach voting Labour, but they would be arrogant to think that jilted members wouldn't protest by finding another party to support in a snap election.

However, Key's strong support of Hide is somewhat interesting, given the media storm over the ACT leader's comments at a fundraiser in Christchurch. Hide told a table of guests that John Key "doesn't do anything", which was entirely correct but a comment obviously not welcomed by the Nats.

Hide (perhaps unfortunately) publicly apologised for those comments, despite being 100% on the money. The National-led Government has done very little to move New Zealand away from social engineering and socialist path engaged by Hillin Cluck's Labour Party over the previous 9 years.

It is certain that a Labour Government in the same position would not have moved so slowly, or been so cowardly in winding back decisions and programmes put in place by the previous administration.

Back in 2005, a slightly less wishy-washy John Key correctly slammed Labour's expansion of the Working for Families scheme as "communism by stealth", but he and English have since refused to scale back state spending even to "mid-Cullen" levels.

* NZ Herald - Key steps in to save Hide's Act job

* Stuff - Brash economic recommendations unheeded

* NZ Herald - Don Brash to Garth George: You're wrong

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]