Rodney Hide’s speech to ACT on Campus really is superb. Some extracts:
When I first made it to Parliament I was asked by a fellow who had been around the complex for a long time why I was always so happy. New MPs are supposed to be miserable, he said. The direct comparison was Pam Corkery. She was always sour.
I thought about it for a time. The reason was that I am a Classical Liberal. For me, the government that governs best is the government that governs least.
I don’t believe that politicians and bureaucrats have the information or incentive to tell us what to do better than we can for ourselves. We certainly know how to spend our own money better than politicians can spend it for us. That was my view when I first turned up to Parliament.
Everything that I saw in the first few heady weeks of being an MP confirmed my view of the world. In fact, government was far worse than I had ever imagined.
My theory of government was confirmed by every practice that I witnessed inside it. I was more right about government than I ever had imagined.
For Pam Corkery it was quite different. She believed that government is the solution to every problem and that all government needed was people like her who cared and who knew what the problems were. She figured the problem with government was that the wrong people were running it, i.e. they weren’t her.
For every scam that I exposed there were 10 that I didn’t have time for, 100 I hadn’t properly investigated, and probably a thousand that I didn’t even know about.
For every Minister that I knocked back as useless another incompetent would swell the ranks.
I realised it didn’t matter who was in power; the problem was the same one. Waste and incompetence is inherent in big government.
For years New Zealand suffered the ravages of high inflation. It distorted the economy, hindered our prosperity and favoured the rich over the poor.
Politicians like Muldoon blamed the unions. Jim Anderton blamed big business. Winston Peters blamed Asians.
But the real cause was politicians themselves.
The Reserve Bank Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act have served to align good political decision making with sound economics.
Helen Clark won the 2005 election promising to wipe interest from graduates’ student debt. The policy did nothing for education in New Zealand, it shifted income from truck drivers to accountants.