ACT held its Upper South regional conference in Christchurch on Sunday
A very good turnout heard Heather Roy outline ACT’s vision for alleviating child abuse. While many commentators since the recent deaths of the Kahui twins have proposed increased state intervention in every child’s life, Heather promoted the targeted approach. Rather than blanket every family in bureaucrats, identify the very few real problem families in each region. Co-ordinate the relevant agencies-police, welfare, education etc to get those families appropriate help.
Heather also gave examples of private welfare providers who were doing an excellent job. How do we know this? Because in order to attract private funding they have to measure and prove their results. State agencies don’t have to do this, which is partly why their results are often so pitiful.
Party President Garry Mallett spoke mainly on fundraising. This guy is a true ACTivist. He has no illusions about the task ahead of us and is willing to tackle the nuts and bolts issues head on. However there was no doubting the idealism behind the realism. When Garry spoke of the “beautiful” ideas of human liberty, there was no doubt he meant it.
Rodney was soooo good. Many people were blown away by his appearance, let alone his speech. Looking so cool in a beautifully tailored suit, super trim and fit, Rodney’s new look was a revelation. Most people hadn’t seen him in “the flesh” in several months and couldn’t believe the difference.
Rodney’s speech outlined ACT strategy going forward. He dealt very bluntly with the mistakes of the past (including his own) and laid out a very credible strategic vision. He very much laid to rest the “Pollyanna” view that afflicts many Nat and some ACT supporters; that Helen is on her way out and the centre-right is almost guaranteed victory in 2008. As Rodney said, if a third term Labour Government can seemingly survive a scandal like the Taito Philip Field affair, they are clearly a formidable and competent opponent. Rodney spoke very candidly on the role of all the minor parties and emphasised that none could be ignored if we want to change our country’s direction.
Dancing With the Stars and Heather’s Army commitments were discussed, providing much hilarity, but also some insight into how public perception of Rodney and Heather has altered for the better. It was very clear that both Heather and Rodney had undertaken these challenges with honourable intent, but that they also gave our MPs greater opportunity to reach new audiences.
Christchurch businessman Dave Henderson spoke last. He gave us a hilarious account of his battles with the IRD. He finished however on a sobering note. His message, that for ACT to help advance real longterm positive change, we had to “move minds” Tax cuts, school choice etc, were laudable things, but not in themselves enough. We must never lose sight of our ideals and we must put a lot of energy into not just winning votes, but in helping more individuals to understand and commit to, the freedom philosophy.
It was a very stimulating conference, with plenty of opportunity for the “punters” to ask questions and engage with the speakers. We also made a substantial profit for Upper South, both in registrations and donations.
I overhead one long time member, who’d been less active lately, tell a friend that “I’d been tossing up whether to get more involved, but after hearing the ideas outlined today, I’m keen to get more involved.”
Thanks to Rodney, heather, Garry and Dave, ACT staffers Sara Russell and Gavin Middleton, the Upper South team, especially Geoff Russell and Andrew Falloon, everybody who attended, especially those from Aoraki and Rakaia and the The Elms Hotel who provided a very nice venue and bloody good scones, cream and jam for afternoon tea.