In Parliament last week, we discovered the Prime Minister reads ACT’s Free Press, and it makes her very angry. Over 70 thousand people have watched the video.

ACT’s practical solution to offset the skyrocketing price of petrol has been widely reported. 

In short, it takes James Shaw’s $1 billion slush fund from carbon tax and gives it back to people.

Some of New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneurs have come out to publicly and substantially support ACT, with a million dollar fundraising drive.

The gap between left and right has been closing for over a year. In the past month the lines have crossed, with ACT and National ahead of Labour and the Greens for the first time.

There are two things to think about. The stakes just got higher because, terrible as a Labour Government is, Labour’s decline could make things worse after 2023. A Labour/Green/Maori Party Government would be the best Government since Muldoon, if you are an Australian recruitment agency. But even if there is a change of Government, there’s a bigger question. Change to what?

Five times New Zealand has had a Labour Government, and five times it’s been followed by a National Government that campaigned with fire and brimstone against Labour only to keep their policies and direction going for them. 

A new Government of National and ACT only would be a first. The last one was simultaneously reliant on the Maori Party, who John Key could always rely on to support backward policies if ACT wouldn’t. There has never been a better chance for real change. 

Real change means more than holding the line and managing Labour’s legacy competently. It means stopping New Zealand’s gradual decline and actively promoting the values of an achieving society. Labour is doing damage at such a rate of knots, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thoughts need organising.

Here’s three areas of problem and solution. A healthier economy where your efforts make a difference. Healthy, thriving communities where a gang is no kid’s best career option. Finally, a Kiwi identity as an outward looking, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy. 

Karl Marx was a shocker, the only thing worse than his manners, personal hygiene and relationships was his ideas, which led to death and destruction on an epic scale. He may have had one thing right though, the workers are exploited. It’s not capitalists who are the problem but bureaucrats. Why has hard work got decoupled from success?

People spend longer getting permission to do things than it takes to do them. Every year it gets worse because last year’s bureaucracy is taken as a given, the question is what to add. Market studies by the Commerce Commission have told us nothing new but created a cottage industry in Wellington. Real change means zero basing the bureaucracy and regulatory settings in each parliamentary cycle.

Take the 3,900 Ministry of Education bureaucrats. Four years ago there were 2,600. All along there have been only 2,550 schools. The cost is not only those salaries but the damage they do to the sector. Principals often say they are more a hindrance than a help. 

If you take that approach through the balance of the bureaucracy, you start to see where there’s real opportunity to reduce the costs the bureaucratic class put onto the people. Healthy thriving communities mean kids go to school and their best career path does not include a gang. It means work always pays better than welfare and we don’t accept there’s a whole swath of New Zealand for whom the only way forward is bigger Government handouts. 

Real change in social policies means flipping welfare from an entitlement to a contract with mutual obligation. It means replacing a bureaucratic education system that has more to say about living in a ‘treaty-centric Aotearoa’ than how kids make their way in the 21st century world where skills matter more than ever.

It means putting gangs on good behaviour contracts and taking their assets. The Kiwi identity is at a crossroads. We are supposed to be engaged in a bold South Pacific experiment with two types of people; Tangata Whenua and Tangata Treaty.

Real change means rejecting He Puapua that came out of John Key’s accession to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (something even Helen Clark refused to do). Real change means we proudly say we are a modern, multiethnic, outward looking liberal democracy. It’s a magnificent way to live and the only way that has truly allowed human flourishing. Buckle in because the next 18 months leading up to the 2023 election is going to be tough.

As the country gets buffeted by global events and its own Government, the only path to hope is real change, something that is both desperately needed and totally worth it.