Leighton Smith

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

The preoccupation with medical stories on Nine to Noon means that I sometimes flick on to Newstalk ZB in the mornings, where Leighton Smith reigns supreme. Today I heard Smith advocating school “vouchers”, whereby parents take funding to their school of choice. This competitive system has long been a cornerstone of ACT policy, with MPs Donna Awatere-Huata and later Deborah Coddington particularly in favour of it.

I wonder if ACT will bring out schemes like the voucher system once again. The “economisation” of politics over the last couple of years, in which Labour and National have argued about the merits of tax cuts, suggests that voters are more interested in economic issues now. Indeed, Hide has focused on “High Performance Government”, i.e. notions of accountability and transparency. Thus far, examples of this such as the Regulatory Responsibility Bill have failed to set the electorate on fire, and I doubt it ever will. ACT needs something more appealing. Could it be a voucher system in some shape or form?

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