Wednesday, May 25, 2005

ACT's Tax Policy

While for the most part I agree with ACT's tax policy, there is an element that has had very little mention. The area of interest for me is, as the Scoop press release summarises: the "Taxpayers bill of rights, and cap on real government spending per capita". The Dominion Post at least explains it a little better:

"ACT said it would introduce laws that allowed rises in total government spending to cover inflation and population growth. Other increases would need the approval of 75 per cent of MPs, but cash could be moved from one area to another within the limit."
I think it is important to note that New Zealand's laws at the moment only have one entrenched law - that is, a laws that requires more than a simple majority of MPs to vote for it to be passed. This is found in the Electoral Act. It is also imperative to note that the clause that entrenches this area of our law is in fact not entrenched. This means that a Parliament who had 51% MPs in favour of changing the entrenched clause could - first of all by getting rid of the clause that entrenches it, and then by changing it accordingly.

The problem that I have with entrenchment in general is that it binds the power of future Parliaments. New Zealander's understand and seem to support the idea of Parliamentary sovereignty - that is, the idea that Parliament can pass any law it wants. Checks on this power exist in the form of elections, select committee, public opinion, and Parliament itself. An entrenched law distors Parliamentary supremacy.

While ACT knows they are highly unlikely to put their policy into legislation, it does not excuse it. A party that supposedly stands for freedom, liberty, and democracy, is here flouting the very values it espouses. If in 20 years time a majority of the people wanted to remove these caps, unless they had a 75% majority, then their hands would be tied. It denies the freedom of the people to choose representatives who work for them - since it contrains those representatives to work for the majority of people unless large. It denies Parliament's liberty to pass laws that it sees fit to. It distorts democracy by placing value judgments on law, as opposed to the judgment of the people.

To demonstrate the hypocrisy of the ACT party, consider a Labour party who decided some of their policies were so good that they would entrench them. They would force successive governments to, say, pay for an annual Hip-Hop tour. Now ACT would obviously say firstly that this policy was ridiculous (which, I note, they do not seem to say so loudly about the Government subsidies for the NZSO), and secondly that it undermines the ideals of democracy. They should hold their own policies to similar scrutiny.


Anonymous A.C.T. said...

Hi there carnifex sen oris, I was just trying to find some info on A.C.T. and came across your blog. The ACT's Tax Policy wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I did find it interesting nonetheless, and understand why your site showed up when I was looking for A.C.T.. I'm glad I found your site though. and will re-visit it from time to time. Good luck with this and everything else you do.

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