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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