Popular reforms being stymied by National and Labour


Politicians lose respect when they know something needs to be done but won’t do it for fear of losing a few votes.

The loss of respect is even greater when what needs to be done is very popular in the electorate, as is the case with marijuana law reform, assisted dying legislation and bringing down house prices.

A recent poll

showed 66% support for the legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis, yet Labour and National continue to resist change. Most Labour MPs would personally favour change, but as a party they are scared of alienating the more conservative voters. Only the Greens have a consistent drug law reform policy.

Polls over the years

have shown that around two thirds of New Zealanders support assisted dying legislation. Most Labour MPs would agree, and seemed to support their colleague Iain Lees-Galloway’s End of Life Choice Bill. But when he became leader Andrew Little forced Galloway to withdraw it from the private members bill ballot. ACT’s David Seymour then

picked up the Bill

. Hopefully the

current parliamentary select committee examination of assisted dying

will create a momentum for change.

A recent UMR poll

found that 60% of Aucklanders and 55% of New Zealand homeowners want house prices to go down. This was embarrassing for Andrew Little, who last month knocked Green co-leader Metiria Turei for proposing a significant (but managed)  drop in prices.  Little put his fear of losing votes from existing homeowners ahead of the needs of the nation and first home buyers in particular. What the UMR poll showed was that existing homeowners are more charitable than Labour thought and weren’t just for protecting the value of their own asset.

We need National and Labour to be braver on such issues and not stymie initiatives by the smaller parties. Around the world things are changing. In Canada, the new Liberal government has promised to legalise marijuana use and in June a law enabling medical assistance in dying came into force. Canadians also seems more determined to bring down house prices, with the British Columbia government imposing a 15% tax on home purchases involving foreigners.