Stop trivialising political debate – Brash

Act leader Don Brash has taken a swipe at the media and the New Zealand education system for trivialising political debate.

Act leader Don Brash has taken a swipe at the media and the New Zealand education system for trivialising political debate.

In a speech to the Act upper south 2011 regional conference in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon, Mr Brash said the dumbing down of education and the media had trivialised political debate to the point where it was no longer a contest of ideas but instead a quest to establish which politician was the most cool.

“Then, if someone does rise above the mush and say something meaningful and challenging, he or she gets chopped down for being polarising.

“Polarizing? For heaven's sake. Isn't the whole idea of having political parties that they put forward differing ideas – even radically differing ideas – and fight them out?

“That they set out precisely to polarize? That we take it in our stride as intelligent adults and choose among our competing suitors?”

New Zealand's Bill of Rights upheld the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form,” Dr Brash said.

The first of six speeches he is due to give around the country outlining Act's vision for a fairer and more prosperous New Zealand, Dr Brash took the opportunity to reiterate that the party stood for individual freedom, open and competitive markets, choice and personal responsibility.

He called for serious inroads to be made into government spending and the government's deficit, coupled with lower and flatter company and personal taxes.

Act would also seek to amend the Bill of Rights to include property rights, Dr Brash said.

He called for a future where people were free to do as they pleased on their own property provided it did not damage the property of others, rather than one where “little Hitlers tell you what colour you may paint your house”.

“We'd overhaul the RMA so that the current presumption that property owners must seek permission to do anything on their own land was reversed.”

Other Act principles highlighted by Dr Brash in his speech included greater parental choice and school autonomy in education, welfare reform to stop benefits being used as a lifestyle choice, the abolition of Maori seats and the emissions trading scheme, and the restoration of youth rates.

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