Monday, December 05, 2011

The deals

A bit over a week after the election, and National has signed its confidence and supply agreements with United Future and ACT. We don't have a government yet - that will have to wait for the final results - but we've certainly got the core of one. So what have they agreed to?

The United Future deal [PDF] is fairly moderate. Peter Dunne agrees to roll over and do whatever National tells him to - including further abuse urgency if Gerry Brownlee so desires - and in exchange he gets a Minister's salary. And that's about it - because there's certainly no substantive policy in there. Oh, there's a pile of kibble - the Game Animal Council, reinstatement (but not passage) of income splitting, an end to helihunting - but its either all minor (as in those examples), or stuff National wanted to do anyway (e.g. not selling KiwiBank or Radio New Zealand, and limiting sale to 49%). Dunne is crowing very loudly about this indeed, with three seperate press releases - but this is just compensation behaviour. OTOH, its not as if Dunne has voters to deliver to, so I'm wondering why he's bothering to make the noise.

ACT's agreement [PDF], OTOH, is of a decidedly different and more threatening nature. In exchange for exactly as many votes as Peter Dunne, ACT (well, really John Banks) gets not only a Minister's salary and perks, but also to inflict all manner of madness upon the rest of us. Charter schools (state funded, but not state-regulated, and free to teach any old quackery), legislated spending limits, a further gutting of the RMA, the total privatisation of ACC's work account (saving the new providers from the risk of being outcompeted by ACC), and the worst aspects of welfare "reform". Given the wildly different outcomes from identical bargaining positions, its pretty obvious that National is using ACT as cover to do to us exactly what it wanted to do anyway. The question is whether the media will go along with that story, or sheet the blame for these policies home where it belongs: to National.