"Every election Conservative Christians fragment into parties and throw votes away effectively allowing secular liberals to determine
the government. Every election they are horrified and then repeat the same mistake." - Dr. Matt Flannagan, PhD (Theology)
New Zealand was once a Christian nation. Both Labour and National were founded on strong Christian principles, however they no longer stand up for these ideals. This is understandable, as we are a democracy, so the major parties follow the votes, and Christians are no longer a majority of the population. However as a result we now have abortion virtually on-demand, and cannot even discipline our children without fear of being prosecuted.
An election is our chance to do something about it. But what?
A string of minor Christian conservative parties over the last 20 years has failed to gain seats and bring Christian principles back into parliament. In every election we have a difficult choice – should we support Labour or National, whichever we see as the least bad? Should we support a minor secular party who has some policies we like? Or should we support a minor conservative party and risk wasting our vote if they fail to gain any seats?
What Christian voters need is some guidance. But what tends to happen is that politically minded friends and associates of each voter present their personal viewpoint, and in some cases, ram it down any ear hole that will listen. So with that in mind, this website aims to help by assessing all political parties in the same way, narrowing them down to the best options, then presenting enough information on those to allow you to make your own informed decision.
There is no standard “Christian” political viewpoint, and Christians can disagree on many issues. Also, we cannot expect to in one election suddenly have a Christian government, we can only aim to influence our secular parliament to be more accepting of Christianity.
However there are a few underlying issues that most Christians will find relevant when deciding who to vote for this election, including a party’s attitude towards Freedom, Morality, and the Disadvantaged, and also the likelihood of votes for the party being wasted. This website rates all the key parties on offer based on these four issues.
We need the freedom to practice Christianity. But this does not just mean the freedom to pray in our homes and worship on Sunday without persecution, freedoms we already have (unlike many others in the world). We need the freedom to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). This includes the freedom to:
Freedom is gradually being undermined in this country. We cannot discipline our children without fear of prosecution, even physically placing a child in “time out” is illegal. Freedom of speech is also under threat, there is currently a risk that the government will ratify a UN document which would outlaw racist and anti-semitic views from being stated on the internet (the start of a slippery slope), and laws against “hate speech” are proposed from time to time, which would be a great risk to any preacher who dared to speak against homosexuality for instance.
There are many sinful things in this world that people choose to do. A secular government will not pass laws to stop people from sinning, only the Church can reduce sin through evangelism. However a secular government should act to prevent people from harming others through their sin. There are many moral issues in this country at present, but the most desperate is abortion.
Every year, around 18,000 babies are killed in this country through abortion. This is a great evil, and the government not only condones it but forces us to pay for it with our taxes. Science is clear that an aborted baby is a human, and Christianity (along with virtually all other religions and philosophies) is very clear that killing a human is a great sin.
“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” - Psalm 82:4
Who is weaker and more defenceless than an unborn child?
There are many people in this country for whom life is not easy. A party’s attitude towards the disadvantaged is an important consideration. This is however difficult to rate parties on, as every party claims to support the disadvantaged, they just have rather different ideas on how best to do this. Here we present the general approach the party takes towards the disadvantaged, to allow you to make your own judgement.
Unfortunately many Christian votes have in the past been wasted on minor parties full of very good Christian candidates, who never made it into parliament. Secular views have been allowed to dominate. We must consider both the policies of a party and the likelihood that they will actually be able to get into parliament with them.
This page rates all key parties based on the “Key Principles” described above. For simplicity a small selection of issues are chosen to represent the party’s general attitude towards the principles of Freedom, Morality, and the Disadvantaged. Other policies of the parties that stand out in this assessment are discussed in more detail later. Voting records and current views of candidates are taken from www.valueyourvote.org.nz.
Freedom - the focus is on the law that bans most forms of discipline, by making any use of physical force in discipline illegal. As it is not just about smacking, but also includes physically placing a child in “time out” for instance, it is here referred to as the “ban on discipline”, not the more common but erroneous name, the “anti-smacking law”.
Morality - the focus is on laws around abortion. Value Your Vote surveyed all candidates on whether they would support giving an unborn baby a legal right to life, require women seeking abortions to get independent medical advice and be offered an ultrasound to ensure they had informed consent, and require parents to be notified of teenage abortions.
The Disadvantaged - the general approach the party takes towards providing for the poor is stated based on their policy statements. This is difficult as not all policies have been released yet, so some parties have little detail.
Wasted votes - in order for a party to get into parliament they must either gain 5% of the party vote or win an electorate seat. This column discusses the likelihood of this occurring.
|Freedom||Morality||The Disadvantaged||Wasted Votes|
|Labour||Poor. Repealed s59 of the Crimes Act, making most forms of child discipline illegal, by banning any physical force (not only smacking).||Poor. No candidate would support an unborn baby having the right to life, mandatory informed consent or parental notification of teen abortions, although some were undecided.||More government funding: Increase minimum wage, tax poor less and rich more.||Won’t be wasted, will exceed 5% threshold and gain electorate seats.|
|National||Poor. Supported Labour’s ban on discipline, and ignored a highly popular referendum conclusively stating the public wanted people to be allowed to smack their children if necessary. Interestingly, despite a popular perception that they are more conservative than Labour, no current candidate would even support “decriminalising” smacking in Value Your Vote’s survey.||Poor. Most candidates surveyed (including John Key) would not support an unborn baby having a right to life, informed consent or notifications, although some were undecided. Chester Borrows is the only candidate who would support all of these.||Bits of everything: Boost national economic activity, fund a range of schemes to help the disadvantaged in specific areas (see policy statements for detail).||Won’t be wasted, will exceed 5% threshold and gain electorate seats.|
|Minor in Parliament:|
|ACT||Very Good. Voted against the discipline ban, and continue to stand for parental freedom in parliament. Attempted to fix this law with a new bill last year but were outvoted.||Ok. Party leader Don Brash is undecided on whether an unborn baby has a right to life, however would support both mandatory informed consent and parental notifications of teen abortions. Other candidates have a range of views and the party has no policies around abortion.||Boost national economic activity to create jobs, reinstate youth minimum wage to give youth work experience, provide state assistance for those in genuine need.||Probably won’t be wasted, John Banks has a good chance of winning the Epsom electorate seat.|
|Green||Very poor. Introduced the ban on discipline in the first place, and have pushed it heavily.||Very poor. All candidates surveyed would not support an unborn baby having a right to life, informed consent or parental notifications.||More government funding: Increase benefits & related funding, no work testing for DPB. Increase minimum wages.||Won’t be wasted, will exceed 5% threshold.|
|Mana||Very poor. The leader Hone Harawira supported the ban on discipline, and the former Green MP Sue Bradford, who introduced the bill to parliament, is now a Mana party candidate.||Very poor. Both candidates surveyed would not support an unborn baby having a right to life or parental notifications.||More government funding: Tax poor much less, tax rich much more, abolish GST, large increases in benefits.||Probably won’t be wasted, Hone Harawera is likely to win the Te Tai Tokerau electorate seat.|
|Maori||Poor. Supported the ban on discipline.||Very poor. All candidates surveyed stated they would not support an unborn baby having a right to life.||More government funding: Tax poor less, increase minimum wage, increase benefits.||Will take at least one electorate seat. However in the past they have actually taken more electorate seats than their party vote would entitle them to, so party votes have effectively been wasted as unnecessary. Depends how many seats they retain.|
|United Future||Poor. Supported the ban on discipline.||Poor. No candidate would support an unborn baby having a right to life or parental notifications, however the leader Peter Dunne would support informed consent.||More jobs through more government expenditure: Fund a range of initiatives aimed at helping people get into work, more intensive management of beneficieries.||Probably won’t be wasted, Peter Dunne is likely to win the Ohariu electorate seat.|
Minor outside Parliament:
|Conservative||Good. Would vote to repeal the ban on discipline.||Good. Party leader Colin Craig would support an unborn baby having a right to life, informed consent and parental notifications, and most candidates share these views.||More jobs: Boost national economic activity, ensure welfare does not encourage single parenting, ensure welfare never pays better than working, work-for-the-dole schemes to provide work experience.||Probably wasted, not expected to exceed 5% threshold. Colin Craig's chances in the Rodney electorate are unknown due to no independent polls being available. Consider independent polls only, don’t believe any poll released by a political party.|
|NZ First||Good. The leader Winston Peters voted against the ban on discipline, and has made repealing it a key policy for this election.||Good. All candidates except one would support an unborn baby having a right to life, informed consent and parental notifications.||More government funding: Increase minimum wages, increase state funding for the needy in various ways, increase funding of training to get people into work.||Probably wasted, as NZ First will struggle to take an electorate seat. However a major swing in votes could plausibly take them over the 5% threshold. Watch the polls closer to the election (independent polls only again).|
There is little difference between National and Labour, and both rate poorly on both Freedom and Morality by this analysis. On “The Disadvantaged”, Labour favored policies that spent more government money more widely, and National has kept many of those policies, though they do push towards more targeted assistance than Labour does.
The only parties which rank “ok” or “good” on Freedom and Morality are Act, Conservative and New Zealand First. The wider policies of these parties are discussed in more detail under "Top Parties".
For information on policy positions of other parties, check out www.valueyourvote.org.nz or the parties' own websites.
The only three parties that rated “OK” or “Good” for Freedom and Morality were Act, New Zealand First and the Conservative Party. Although they scored similarly on these issues they differ in many other policy areas, so here we look at their underlying philosophy and a wider range of policies to help you decide which you would prefer to support.
This discussion is based primarily on the policies published on the party websites. Differences in the depth of coverage of different party’s views are due to the amount of policy detail they have published.
All three parties are concerned about the racial distinctions in New Zealand politics, and recognise that the Treaty of Waitangi very clearly states that all persons are to be under the same law. All three would return ownership of the foreshore and seabed to the Crown (to own it on behalf of all New Zealanders) rather than to Maori. Act and Conservative would eliminate the Maori electorate seats, putting all voters onto a single electorate roll. Act would accelerate the compensation process for genuine historical grievances, giving full and final settlements. Conservative believes that Maori should get compensation for past wrongs through the courts rather than through negotiation with parliament.
All three parties see social welfare as an essential backstop for people in genuine need, but also stress that the government must aim to get people off benefits and back into work. The approaches they would take to achieve this vary, read their policies for further detail.
All three promote the idea of “less government”, although there are two separate issues here - the size of parliament, and the role of government.
NZ First and Conservative would reduce the number of MPs, and NZ First would also reduce the number of consultants etc. Act has no policies on this issue.
Act would however “limit the involvement of central and local government to those areas where collective action is a practical necessity”. Conservative would implement binding citizens initiated referenda to limit the authority of parliament and give more power to voters, so parliament could not continue to ignore referenda like they have so often in the past. NZ First would hold “appropriate referenda” but has expressed no plans to change the overall role of government.
All three express a desire for less tax through a range of policy measures. However the extent of this varies, Act and Conservative have it as a more immediate policy while NZ First holds it as an eventual goal. Read the policies for more information
Both NZ First and Conservative stress the importance of families as the foundational unit of the nation in their policies. Act do not stress this, but do not oppose it either, and have shown support for families through their position on the physical discipline law. Conservative would introduce a range of measures to encourage families, for instance state-funded marriage counselling
NZ First and Conservative strongly oppose the sale of state assets. NZ First sees power stations etc as important strategic assets that must not fall into foreign hands, but propose contracting management to private firms where appropriate to improve efficiency. Act does not see ownership of such assets as a key role of government, and supports privatisation where it is likely to result in more efficient management of such businesses. In their words, they would “Continue a rational, evidence based debate about the role of government ownership in the economy.”
Both Act and Conservative would gradually raise the age of entitlement for superannuation, seeing the current age (65) as unaffordable in the long-term. NZ First has no policy to raise the age of entitlement (although they don’t say they would retain it at 65 either), and in general push for increased financial assistance for the elderly, particularly through the Gold Card.
None of these three parties has a current policy statement around euthanasia. However NZ First introduced a bill to legalise euthanasia in 2005, and both Winston Peters and Don Brash supported it. Most NZ First and Act candidates were unwilling to state their views on this issue in the Value Your Vote survey, those who did answer had mixed views. Most Conservative party candidates would oppose euthanasia.
NZ First would raise the minimum wage to $15. Act would retain the current minimum wage, and reintroduce a lower youth minimum wage to assist youth seeking their first employment. Conservative has no plans to change the minimum wage laws.
Conservative would repeal the ETS. Act would remove agriculture from the ETS and suspend the remainder of the policy until the majority of our trading partners implement a similar scheme. NZ First has no policy statement on this topic.
Conservative would have education funding follow the child, so wherever a parent chose to have their child educated they would receive the same state funding. Act would increase the subsidy to independent schools to ensure parents were able to choose to send their children there without being disadvantaged, and increase the autonomy of school boards and principals. NZ First does not have enough detail in their education policy to discuss this issue.
NZ First and Conservative would boost trade training and apprenticeships in different ways (see policy documents). Act does not have enough detail on trade training in their policies to judge their position, although they would open up trade training to wider competition.
The polls used are a summary of the reliable telephone polls on Wikipedia, and iPredict, which is not technically a poll but predicts election results based on a futures market with surprisingly high accuracy. iPredict is used as it covers all electorates, giving data which is unavailable from the traditional polls.
Electorate seat: The only independent poll available for this electorate is iPredict, which gives a 78% probability that National will win the seat, but click the link to check the up-to-date value as it is reducing very fast (note that although an early poll by the party claimed Colin Craig had substantial support, the methodology of this poll is highly suspect and the result is unreliable).
Earlier this week we said the Conservative party was highly unlikely to either win an electorate seat or exceed the 5% threshold. However the media have suddenly noticed they exist, and it appears they will feature prominently on the news on Friday night. Given that their support is trending rapidly upwards and they are receiving levels of media attention the minor conservative parties have never seen before, anything could happen now.
Electorate seat: Not seriously contesting any seat, will not win an electorate seat.
Although NZ First will most likely not reach the 5% threshold, there is a chance that they will.
Electorate seat: John Banks was polling at around 30% as of last week, with his major rival Paul Goldsmith on around 43%. Not enough polls are available to determine the trend, however in the past Act has performed better than the polls suggest and National voters are being encouraged to vote for John Banks, so this can be expected to change somewhat this week. iPredict gives Paul Goldsmith a 45% chance of taking the seat, and John Banks a 53% chance.
It’s pretty even odds whether Act will take Epsom and be able to use party votes.
READ THIS PAGE AGAIN and make your own decision.
Or, if you really want to know our view:
The field is changing very rapidly now with the mainstream media suddenly finding the Conservative party. We really cannot make any reliable recommendation between these three parties, it's up to you.
Even if you don't vote for their party:
EPSOM: John Banks, ACT. Act needs to retain this seat in order to stay in parliament, and the margins are very tight, they need every vote they can get.
RODNEY: Colin Craig, Conservative. Conservative needs this seat to get into parliament. Even if he does not win the seat, the more votes he gets this year the better placed he will be to increase his support and take the seat in 2014.