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Can Libertarianz step up?

The grievances are many and growing.

Government spending as a percentage of GDP has grown since 2008 and Finance Minister Bill English borrows hundreds of millions of dollars a month, mainly for welfare.

Prime Minister John Key broke his promise of further tax cuts, yet his pledges to keep Labour’s Working for Families, interest-free student loans and current superannuation entitlements remain inviolable.

Fiscal surplus is elusive. Even if New Zealand reaches balance for a year or two this decade, Treasury’s long-term fiscal outlook indicates that, without major policy change, public debt will surpass Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain well before mid-century.

A vast new bureaucracy has been established to hand out corporate welfare while other bureaucracies work on five-year plans.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Maori Development, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, the Office of Ethnic Affairs, the Ministry for the Environment, NZ On Air and dozens of other unpopular agencies and quangos continue to exist.

Efforts to expand the private sector into health, education, welfare and ACC are half-hearted at best.

Nothing serious has been done to reform the Resource Management Act, which Steven Joyce rightly points out has already held up new job creation on the West Coast for seven years – with no end in sight.

There is no true freedom to contract under the Employment Relations Act.

While SOEs are not being privatised, management of Te Urewera National Park will be, as part of a Treaty of Waitangi deal with a tribe that didn’t sign it.

Rogue spy agencies are intercepting New Zealand residents’ communications and passing their business secrets to foreign powers.

The nanny state is re-emerging in welfare, including the requirement to enrol children in early childhood centres, seen by some as peddlers of socialist doctrine.

National is flirting brazenly with NZ First's Winston Peters.

It’s quite a list and the classical liberal movement should be booming, especially with National’s support falling and the combined Labour/Green vote leading the polls. That ACT languishes on 0.5% underlines that party’s abject failure.

A new liberal bloc
Next weekend, the Libertarianz will hold their annual conference in Auckland.

The party has a record of electoral failure exceeding even where ACT is today, peaking at just 6000 votes in 1999.

In its defence, the party points out – with some justification – former National leader Don Brash, former Act MP Deborah Coddington and former United Future MP Marc Alexander can be seen as previous parliamentary torchbearers for its ideas.

This year, though, it is getting serious, calling its conference Towards a True Liberal Bloc in parliament. Its doors are open to anyone who believes there needs to be a new political party in parliament advocating small-government, liberal solutions to economic and social problems. 

It believes next year’s local body elections will provide a proof-of-concept opportunity, claiming some rural and provincial New Zealanders are facing rates rises of up to 40%, largely because of parliament’s idiotic 2002 decision to grant local government general competence.

Libertarianz representation on councils and parliament would undoubtedly be good for New Zealand, but achieving it will require discipline which classical liberals and libertarians are programmed to resist.

Historically, like the far left, the movement has suffered from regular schisms.

While all libertarians agree that self-interest, individual rights and capitalism are the ethical, political and economic systems of objectivist philosophy, some insist the political wing must also insist, for example, on romantic realism in art. 

Others believe broadly in classical liberalism but would be quite happy with, say, vouchers for all schools rather than wholesale abandonment of the state system.

There are potentially as many different opinions as there are libertarians over matters from tolerance toward Islamism or creationism being taught in schools to defence.

Without destroying the very nature of libertarianism, a way must be found to accommodate different views while achieving the degree of political discipline necessary to win the 100,000 votes to get into parliament.

The good news for everyone who would like to see the Libertarianz succeed is that all matters of political strategy appear to be on the table, including perhaps even the party’s name.

If they do get into parliament they will not see themselves so much as a coalition partner for Mr Key but a faction to give his government a kick up the bum.

More by Matthew Hooton

Comments and questions

Finally ... What a great headline to open NBR to: Libertarianz. They've always had my vote, and the one point Matthew's piece has missed is that another of the Lib's problems has been voter pragmatism in the form of tactical voting for ACT. Banks final philosophical destruction of that party into just another conservative party, which is not classical liberal, hopefully finally clears the way for a new party, and freedom lovers to vote on the principles of small government, which National is not going to give us.

No the Libertarianz will not step up. Their brand has been around for too long without going anywhere, so it has become entrenched in the minds of people who would consider voting for it as a less-than-minor party, doomed to insignificance. Plus the word 'Libertarian' carries connotations of extremism which would be unpalatable to 5% of NZ voters.

What is needed is a new classical liberal party. Oh, and a well known personality/breakaway MP to lead it. Recently history shows a party attempting to get into Parliament from scratch will struggle.

I can't make it to the conference (and I'm not really a 'conference sort of person', as I'd rather do my own thing), but my understanding is, it's about forming a new party/bloc to push the classical liberal ideals.

As for calling Libertarianz ideals extreme, well, considering those were the ideals that the allies fought for against fascism, and the underlying ideals that got us through and won the Cold War, it just shows how far the West has crumbled under statism that those ideals - freedom - are now seen as 'extreme'. I just find it very disappointing, sad, and frustrating. Hell, the current president of the land of the free - which is not free any longer - borrowing direct from both Orwell, and a Luddite mercantilism, referred to an 'economic patriotism' this week. Between him, the God Squad and Bernanke, times have not been bleaker since the blood baths of the twentieth century, which may be seen again in Europe.

I certainly hope something comes of next weeks conference. An whatever does will have my vote.

The total number of votes gained by the Libertarianz over the last three elections have been 946,1176 and 1595.
You may as well vote National or Act to make an impact.

Can Libertarianz step up?

New Zealanders do not want freedom, so why shove it down their throats?

I've campaigned for Libertarianz and people are not interested, they all want more government, take a look at the polling results. IMO, New Zealand has to go through a phase of totalitarianism, and/or out of control State spending (with attendant collapse) before they will ever look at their government as possibly evil that needs to be limited and restrained.

So now I cheer on the biggest and baddest Statists out there to bring it ... do their worse, finish off the job they are evidently doing so well and really stuff this country up. It is the only way modern NZ will learn what our pioneering forbears (freedom lovers) and the diggers knew so well. The State is not here to help, they are a necessary evil.

There's a lot of truth in this. Just take a look at the average Herald comment thread or the Listener letters. Academia and journalism is solidly socialist and most of the population is on welfare. Even Chinese communists are too capitalist for that lot.

What Rodney Hide is doing now is probably far more valuable than anything he was able to do in Parliament. Change has to come from outside it.

Very good post Alan.
Rodney Hide has been the best right wing politican we have had.
Libertarianz have never had anyone remotely approaching his quality.
Rodney was able to catch the attention of the country,and commanded respect.

Respect - You have to be joking.

Whether it is Liberterianz or some other right wing group,we certainly need someone to replace the damaged National brand.
They have significantly damaged their brand with their constant mis-steps and cover-ups;we deserve better.

(Ever so slight correction: not speaking for Libertarianz, though I stood for them in 2008, I do not think of myself as 'right wing'. Classical liberals are not conservatives: Colin Craig and Banks can have that bigoted ground. Classical liberalism is economically closer to right wing, though the right wing do not advocate laissez faire, and in some ways closer philosophically than to the Left, but they're also a long way away from them).

If abolishing Social Welfare is not a right wing policy,I do not know what is.

Our welfare state has been going since 1898, yet from just this weeks news, we have:

Increasing child poverty. I had to donate money this week not so a school could teach a kid, but feed it.

Increasing literacy and numeracy problems flowing from our state schools.

Increasing violent crime.

Almost one for one: a person earning private sector wage having to pay a public sector wage, or benefit. That numeracy issue moving from schools to policy via state planners and politicians.

A government so big, its activity is almost half that in the entire economy, with it continuing to grow in dollar terms under every National government.
Increasing government debt (look at Europe for implications).

I've now had two friends recently pay over $18k for basic operations (one a hip, the other back), because with their age they'd be dead by the time public system helped them


In face of this there are two options:

1) Throw yet more tax money at the state. Problem - the mathematics of the big state already approaching 'does not equal'; as well as moral)economic problems of creating more dependency on top of state theft that destroys entrepreneurship and innovation ...

2) Finally admit the welfare state doesn't work, indeed, was an illusion since the inception (proof = government debt). So, give people their lives back, allow self-reliance and self-responsibility oxygen again, and families making sensible, caring decisions around childbirth.

I have just had a great idea.
As we Libertarianz have vowed to legalise all drug use,we need to seriously consider an Alliance with the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.
They have the same objectives as we do.
We managed to gain around 4000 votes in total from the 3 elections we have stood candidates in.
Tim Shadbolt gained around 8000 votes by himself when he stood for ALCP in 1996,and the party finished 7th in the NZ election,well ahead of the Greens,Natural Law,Animals First and other minor parties.
Tim must be nearing the end of his mayoral term,though of course it will be a voluntary retirement as there is no-one who .would ever have a hope of beating him in Invercargill.
We desperately need someone with his charisma.
Let's put a remit forward for the upcoming conference.

Classical liberals/libertarians advocate liberalizing drug laws. Is that right wing?

Yes it certainly means you can grow your own marijuana plot indoors for your own consumption,or operate your own P lab at home[for your own consumption of course].
It is complete freedom away from nanny state.
A real bonus for those on home detention.
As for what is left and what is right,the only difference between Stalin and Hitler was that Stalin exterminated more people.

Democracy sucks. It is an immoral and unjustifiable system. To debate that one group is better than another because they will steal less or beat up people less is absurd.

The problem is a philosophic one. Two simple questions; are you responsible for your life? Do you have any claim on anyone else's life or their property?

If you answered yes to the first and no to the second then congratulations. You have a shot at a meaningful and moral existence. If you answered otherwise then go back to debating whether tax should be 30% or 28%. Or some other equally pointless discussion. But don't purport to be anything other than a hostage of your emotions and uninspected values.

What is needed is serious philosophical debate and meaningful inquiry into the nature of morality. Oh, and some simple honesty. Like, I vote for XYZ because they give me the greatest level of handouts.

To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill:
"Democracy is not the ideal system, but it is better than all the others"

There is only one way to motivate the great unwashed into doing anything. Take their TVs away. Then they will march on to Wellington pitch forks in hand demanding they get their dope back.

We don't care if you take our TV's.
Just so long as we keep our mobile phones in order to text to do our dope deals.
And our computers to keep watching You Tube and to order our home delivery pizzas.
Just keep on doling it out to us..

The comments highlight why it will go anywhere. Classical Liberal, Conservative, Bible banging are all used by the proponents of this Liberalism to do down the very people they need to attract to become a possibility for Parliament. If you like the idea of Libertarianism, their constant denigration of anyone believing in the Risen Christ will turn you away. If you believe that their idea of Fiscal Success works, their harping on Liberal social themes is a turn off. And so it goes.

The left were fortunate that Marx and Engels wrote them a Philosophy no one could understand, their initial members were illiterate, and Stalin rose at the right time to eliminate all those who could think for themselves.

To win Libertarianz will need a similar Putsch on those they dislike. And then there will be about enough right wing voters left to fill a phone box.

A great Dream like time travel. It won't work.

I'd like the libertarians to do well, however after reading this article i skipped over to their website and well, oh dear.

The policies and media releases just seemed a bit ranty, while the comments about linking with ALCP and the guy from the daktory being a key speaker at the conference concern me. Whilst it is evident they need to change to get to 5% i think they need to smooth some of the edges to get there and ensure they are not hijacked by single issue groups along the way.

As i said at the outset I'd like them to do well but until there is better organisation and more defined ideas I'll have to align with the Nats.

I doubt Libertarianz can step up they have mucked around for a long time and seen to the general public as lunatics, I will still be voting ACT but will give a serious look at True Liberals -

A vote for Libertarianz is a wasted vote.
Rodney Hide is my hero.
Don Brash is not my hero.
Vote ACT party if you want to support the right.

Yeah he did a great job of the Auckland council and dropped a woman on TV... wow stratospheric achievements.

We certainly need a right-wing party that at least has some integrity.
Key has shown himself to be just a short-term trader and thinker and he has damaged the National brand,perhaps irretreviably;his credibility is now zero.
We of the right wait for that person to step forward and when he/she does the support will be overwhelming.

Well, the comments soon became rants on favourite political parties, whereas the problem is one of philosophy. As John Bander says at #12, the question is- do you own your own life, or are you a slave to some random Govt?

If you are happy to be a slave, it doesn't matter who you vote for. If you don't want bureaucrats Nannying your life for you, you will have to find a party outside the current parliament.

Surely the list of National's actions listed here demonstratte that!

The problem, of course as I've said before, is that anyone who wants to run their own lives and not other people's has no wish whatever to be locked up in Wellington with a bunch of brainless, useless control freaks.

For those who want to see the social and economic liberal factions pool resources and form a new liberal/libertarian block to contest the next election there is a conference next weekend in Auckland.
Liberty Conference 2012 – Towards a True Liberal Bloc in Parliament

The Libertarianz new president is a very canny operator and the architect behind their direction. At the helm, he has positioned them to grow into a vacuum.

Give freedom a chance. The government has not worked yet, and it has had a fair crack.

Our website is a good starting point I suggest for classic liberal groups such as parts of ACT, Libertarianz, Freedom and ALCP to come together on and develop ideas for a single Party

Your web site tells me nothing. Who you are, what you are aspiring to, what are the principles that govern your intentions? Consequentially, what is your point? Thank you.

Given the current National Government largely fails to declare it supports for the USA and Israel, that it cant even give a credible support of the GCSB, that its defence spending is lower than Helen Clark and it has done nothing to peg and reverse escalating health and social worker spending- it is a waste of time continuing to support National in office. Cunliffe and Shearer are more intelligent and less likely to prove furthur to the left. Key and Banks are basically ciphers of no substance- echoing other peoples rhetoric and lines. Finnalyson and English can give great conservative and even almost libertarian speeches- but its meaningless because they lack the courage of their convinctions and ultimately mainly devoted to maintaining the babels of office for themselves and partners. Collins and Tolley are embittered provincial reactionaries.
The Libertarian party and position is meaningless because support of the market and free trade and sexual freedom is useless if not supported by a strong pro USA, pro defence and pro Israel stand and a recognition that the two state solution is no longer realistic and Arab anger has little for the most part to do with the plight of the people in Gaza. Partly for this reason Brash and Coddington are useless.
Coddington is essentially an old communist and feme fatale.

A C T is dead in EPSOM.Start new.

Can John Banks step down.

Stoked to read this! Feeling optimistic about the Libertarianz conference this weekend in Auckland.

All of us classical liberals / libertarians may disagree on how much we should reduce government but we do all agree it needs to be reduced! And that is enough of a massive task for the next few decades.

I think we should be ruled by the reanimated corpses of Ayn Rand and Maggie Thatcher!

All together now! Poor people are gross and oppress the Rich!!! Poor us!