Consumer Affairs for Heather Roy

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).

Courtesy of the Dominion-Post, we learn that ACT’s deputy leader Heather Roy will be made Minister of Consumer Affairs. The paper asked Consumers’ Insitute head Sue Chetwin for comment and as she used to be a journalist and editor of both major Sunday papers, her insights are certainly worth noting:

ACT itself is not strong on consumer issues in terms of country-of-origin labelling and some of the things we’re interested in. But regulations around financial advisers and a lot of that stuff that’s happening now, I think she’d be very good.

Chetwin’s view is a balanced one. To a certain extent, ministers do get to craft their portfolios according to their interests and perhaps Roy will tackle financial advisers, as Chetwin suggests. But given ACT’s laissez-faire views, it seems more likely to me that she will be keen not to engage in any regulations on country-of-origin labelling or anything else. Left mouthpiece The Standard says as much, albeit in its more colourful way.

But then, neither would a National minister likely to regulate on anything he or she didn’t have to. We’re not talking about the Green Party, after all. The more interesting point to note about Roy’s impending appointment is that ACT has been palmed off with something fairly “cheap”. The fact that Judith Tizard was given the job for the last three years emphasises this.

A cheap portfolio for Heather Roy suggests that the pay-off for Hide may be fairly substantial, or that negotiated policy gains are large. We should know exactly what has happened by the end of the weekend.

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4 Responses

  1. Heine says:

    It was very typical of Tane and the Standard peeps to go negative right away about her before she has even started the job.

    I don’t know why I bother visiting that blog.

  2. MikeE says:

    Who are Chetwin and the Greens to state that it is in the consumers best interst to have *Mandatory* Country of Origin Labelling?

    As if they somehow represent the needs and wants of ALL consumers.

    Surely different consumers will have different requirements and different needs.

    All CoOL does is put increased costs and regulatory burden on manufacturers, and works as an effective non tariff barrier to trade. Especially when in our globalised world, where most products are made from ingredients from mutiple countries, it would be almost impossible to label most products.

    Individual consumers have benifited far more from deregulation in terms of increased choice and competition, along with lower costs than they have from increased rules and regulations of the type suggested by the greens.

    Finally it appears that we might have someone who understands this in the role. That increased regulation, while reducing some risks, also reduces choice and can harm consumers rather than serve them.

    It will be very interesting to see how much Roy gets done in comparison to Tizard, who for all intents and purposes was a complete and utter joke in all of her years in parliament and did next to nothing with regards to improving the lives of consumers.

  3. Stephen says:

    So how will Roy go about “improving the lives of consumers.”, seeing as she’s in a ‘hands off’ party?

  4. peteremcc says:

    At a guess, it’ll probably involve keeping her hands off…

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