Friday 31 October 2008

Minor Party Leaders' Debate

I watched the minor party leaders' debate the other night (only just getting round to blogging about it).

It was a lovely piece of meaningful randomness that, purely by the luck of the draw, Act's Rodney Hide was at the extreme right (from the viewpoint of the leaders) and the Greens' Jeanette Fitzsimons at the extreme left. Both of them showed themselves to be highly ideologically driven, which to me, even if I agreed with more of their policies than I do, casts doubt on their ability to implement sensible change. I'm all for having principles, but I believe that if you're too ideological about how your principles are to be implemented, it hinders your ability to adapt to the realities of the situation. I'm more pragmatic than idealistic, in other words, so parties that are more idealistic than pragmatic don't appeal to me.

United Future's Peter Dunne reminded me of a rather fussy manager who was originally an accountant (he wasn't; he used to be a senior bureaucrat, which explains his high-level, managerial, government-run, "let us make haste slowly" approach to the issues).

Jim Anderton of the Progressives, the party I was thinking of voting for because I agree with many of their policies, failed to impress me, and in fact I'm now less likely to vote Progressive than before the debate. He seemed uncomfortable and defensive.

Winston Peters of New Zealand First was his usual blustery self, and in his "vision statement" painted a picture of an ideal past which, as far as I'm aware, never existed outside his imagination, but which he wants us to return to in some unspecified way. He made, I think, the only really petty personal attack, on Rodney Hide, despite mentioning almost every time he spoke that now was not the time for petty bickering. He was in a good mood, though, which is unusual for him in a media context.

Tariana Turia from the Maori Party was impressive, I felt, and I'm going to give their policies another look, even though, because of vote-splitting, voting for them is throwing my party vote away. (I'm probably doing that anyway, to be realistic, so it should at least be for a party that I respect.) Of all the parties, the Maori Party is the most in touch with its constituents, and Turia advocated community-based initiatives rather than Government bureaucrats as the way forward, which I liked.

She also refused to be bulldozed into making commitments that she wasn't ready to make, such as which major party the Maori Party will support after the election. At the moment the Maori Party is the only one which is still prepared to go either way. Act and United Future have declared for National, who have unilaterally ruled out working with NZ First (should they by some miracle get back in). The Progressives have been in coalition with Labour all the way along and that's not going to change, and the Greens have analyzed the policies of the two main parties and said that National is going in the opposite direction from them on most things and Labour on only about half, so they are prepared to support Labour but not National.

There was actually a surprising amout of mutual respect being shown in the debate, reminding us that under the MMP system parties do have to work together. Winston Peters and Rodney Hide are daggers drawn, of course, but I was interested to hear Rodney Hide being supportive and respectful of the Maori Party and their wish to entrench the Maori seats constitutionally. Perhaps he's under instructions from National to play nice with the Maori Party because National may need them.

The poll trends are interesting. National's lead is reducing as the election approaches, but at the moment they are still ahead in the polls and, by the numbers in the last poll, could still govern alone (something I wouldn't like to see). Best outcome from my viewpoint would be that National/Act/United Future fell just short of a majority of seats but had more than Labour/Greens/Progressives, and the Maori Party supported National on confidence and supply in exchange for concessions but voted freely on everything else. Then we'd really see some interesting times, as everyone would have to talk to everyone else to get any legislation passed, and we might not see as much ham-handed and unpopular social engineering, if we're lucky.

What it would do to the economy is anyone's guess.

Monday 13 October 2008

Publicity Officer

Well, I'm now the Publicity Officer for the NZ Association of Professional Hypnotherapists.

I've been thinking about offering to do that for a while, so I approached the secretary at the NZ Hypnotherapy Federation conference this weekend just gone. (Good conference, by the way.)

I said, "Would the NZAPH like a publicity officer?"

She shook my hand and said, "Welcome, publicity officer."

She then took me to the president, who literally embraced me. Apparently it's been difficult to get anyone to do anything lately, so he was delighted to get a volunteer.

My colleague just down the road, who has been the newsletter editor, also took the opportunity to offload that job onto me, which is fine.

I really want to improve the positive profile of hypnotherapy in public consciousness, so here's my opportunity.