“This isn’t an agreement cobbled together out of self-interest, but one developed through our shared vision to create a better and brighter future for New Zealand.” – Rodney Hide in ACT’s press release, National-ACT Confidence & Supply Agreement Announcement, 16/11/2008.
In a 4 March press release, Rodney Hide says “Garden centres can open on Easter Sunday but the Mitre 10 hardware shop nearby, which also sells plants, cannot. That is ridiculous… People just want to get on with their lives unhindered by silly rules.” That’s a classic ACT position – government should keep out of people’s lives.
The Prohibition of Gang Insignia Bill…
Lindsay Mitchell notes that both Rodney Hide and Heather Roy were strongly opposed to the gang-patch ban as late in the game as September 2008 – and yet today, both are singing a different tune. The ACT party is supporting National’s Chester Borrows’ gang-patch ban, presumably to buy National’s support for ACT’s 3 Strikes and You’re Out policy. It’s a given that some compromise is necessary if you want to get anywhere in Parliament – however ACT’s support of National’s bill is unacceptable. There are two major problems with the proposed law. Firstly, it is restricting the freedom of citizens; in their freedom of expression. They will not be allowed to display gang-patches on their clothes or vehicles. Secondly, the bill is unjust because it will only apply to people living within a certain area of New Zealand. Only those living in the Wanganui District will be subject to this law currently being pushed through back down in Wellington.
Samuel Dennis saliently observes, “This gang patches law is not only unprincipled, it makes life a lot harder for the police. Currently the gang members make policing easy by wearing nice uniforms saying in effect “Check me, I probably did it”. If they are forced to wear civilian clothes, crime fighting will be far harder.”
What is the argument against displaying gang insignia on your person, or on your vehicle in public? Surely any such argument is one that will lead down the slippery slope of restricting people’s freedom of expression – for the greater good. ACT is letting itself down by supporting this authoritarian bill.
“We accept that allowing the Wanganui District Council to make these bylaws could be perceived to breach the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, but we think for the safety and security of the residents of Wanganui these powers are desirable.” says the select committee looking after the bill. Ahem, excuse me… did I hear that right?
What’s next? Is ACT going to support a move to ban t-shirts that have a Christian message on them, or that say something along the lines of “Abortion is Murder”?