Thursday, March 18, 2010

National's forced moderation

Three years ago, parliament passed the Minimum Wage (New Entrants) Amendment Act 2007, which effectively abolished youth rates. At the time, the National Party fulminated against it, saying that it would do nothing to help young workers and even that it would increase youth unemployment. They voted against it at every stage in the House - first, second, and third readings. So you'd think that when ACT managed to get a bill drawn which would roll back the change and return to the discriminatory pre-2007 status quo, National would be all for it, right?

Wrong. National announced in the House yesterday that they will be voting against the bill. Why? Because in 2008, they were elected only after ditching Don Brash and promising that they would not restart the revolutionand follow a hard-right ACT platform. While they've been pushing hard against that promise of moderation - the 90 day probation period for new employees or their plans to eliminate the requirement that employers treat their workers fairly and reasonably are hardly "moderate" - they seem to have realised that an attack on vulnerable young workers at a time when they're already facing pressure over plans to dig up national parks and turn Auckland into a corporate state would be a bridge too far. The threat of de-election restrains them - at least a little.

We have MMP to thank for this. By giving us a fair electoral system where the outcome accurately reflects the will of the voters, we have gained much more fearful - and hence responsive - politicians. Despite National's impressive polling, they are just a few percent and a coalition realignment from opposition. No wonder their hard-right, no-liberal faction wants to get rid of it...