Thursday, August 20, 2009

Holding the government to ransom

So, after just nine months, Rodney Hide is holding the government to ransom, threatening to resign as Local Government Minister (undermining their confidence and supply agreement) if Auckland gets its own Maori seats. Which just goes to show that ACT are a) rabid zealots; and b) Do Not Play Well With Others. Like National, they're just not used to the ongoing requirement to work with others and consequent need to compromise under MMP; they see coalition management as a one-round rather than multi-round game, and hence as an exercise in power politics rather than an ongoing relationship where there is give and take. Which makes them very poor partners for any government wanting coalition and policy stability.

But in addition to that, they simply can't count - National also has confidence and supply from the Maori Party, which gives them the freedom to tell Rodney to go take a hike (and they'd probably gain public support by doing so). After all, what is ACT going to do - vote against right-wing policy purely out of spite? Actually, given their poor grasp of MMP so far and their ideological purism, I wouldn't be at all surprised...

But what really worries me is that if ACT are willing to go nuclear over something as minor as Maori seats in Auckland, what are they going to do over an issue they really care about, like the ETS? Will they be threatening to pull the plug on the government over that as well? And if so, will we see climate change policy held hostage by a tiny minority of rabid deniers, against the wishes of the vast majority of New Zealanders?