The ACT Conference

I blogged on Saturday on Alan Gibbs address to the ACT Conference, which I enjoyed.

I missed the speeches by Emma Gibbs and David Seymour – which many said were the conference highlights.

I wasn’t impressed with parts of Muriel Newman’s speech. I can’t remember the exact words Muriel used but to describe the National/Maori Party confidence and supply agreement along the lines of the biggest disaster for race relations in all of history was excessively hyperbolic. One can legitimately criticise the agreement, without going so over the top. Also in response to a question on customary rights, I couldn’t believe the answer was that the Treaty of Waitangi extinguished any customary rights. Apart from being totally wrong, it also contradicted an earlier assertion that the Treaty had no legal effect.

John Armstrong has analysed Heather Roy’s speech, and I agree references to black swans and the like were less than wise.

The conference over all did not feel like the conference of a party in Government after 12 years of opposition. Most people were too focused on how the Government was not implementing all of their policies, rather than talking about the areas they were making a difference.

Rodney’s speech was positive and upbeat, but the real outstanding performance from Rodney was on the Sunday on Q+A. I recommend people watch it to see Rodney be frank about his mistakes, but also talk about the wins ACT has had, and what they will keep pushing for. The only negative mark I give him is talking about Key and English keeping on the policies of Clark and Cullen, rather than the more correct “some of the policies”.

Colin James covers that ACT has managed to have significant influence, beyond their five seats.

I thought Don Brash’s speech on closing the gap with Australia was good, as he made a great case for bolder policies needed – especially over spending. He should have chosen better language than “venal and ignorant” in talking about *some* voters, as it has diverted attention from the point he was making about the failing of the education system and the media on basic economic issues.

Of course for many the real highlight of conference was the after-match party hosted by Cactus Kate for the younger members. Had around 40 people in the penthouse suite at the Bolton, so was a very comfortable feel. Was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. An amusing aspect was seeing Chris from Dunedin wind various people up so well, I was sure he was going to get slapped.

Cactus, Jadis and I did some of the shopping for the party. Not sure New World has ever sold so much champagne in one go before!

The party ended a bit after 3 am and as we started a bit before 5 pm, it was a solid ten hour affair. Remarkably, there was almost no damage to the room – even after a couple of people from Young Labour snuck in!