Beth Houlbrooke
Act Party Deputy Leader / Vice President  

When thinking about this week’s Ad Lib, all the immediate topics that came to mind caused me to roll my eyes involuntarily, so I’ll skip over them quickly:

Lowering the voting age

Using the argument that 16 is the age of consent or conscription or to obtain other rights is irrelevant. What is relevant in this debate is the maxim “no taxation without representation”. That’s the only justification I can think of for under 18s to be given the vote, but then perhaps it should be based on minimum taxable earnings in a year before it becomes a right. That could be processed through the IRD. I reject the argument that it should only be available to net taxpayers – that would exclude superannuitants and those unable to work through sickness or disability.

Children protesting Climate Change

Oh puh-leeze. What is this materially meant to achieve? When will the protestors have achieved their aims? When the sea has rolled back?

Wearing black-face nearly 20 years ago

What Justin Trudeau dressed up as at a school benefit nearly 20 years ago does not interest me one bit. Times have changed and attitudes are thankfully more enlightened where true offence might be caused. But where does cultural appropriation begin and end now, and where is it moving towards? No more dressing up on St Patrick’s Day? I’m of both Irish and Scottish extraction, should I be concerned when people don red-haired wigs and tartan kilts for fun? What happens if you’re in the costume hire business?

Protests by vegans against meat eaters

A blatant disregard for private property rights means whatever point they were trying to make was immediately lost on me, and I imagine many others.

CHEERS DAVID

Saturday 21 September 2019 marked five years since David was elected to Parliament. In that five years he became ACT Party Leader; saw more partnership schools open to give more families more choice and access to better education; introduced probably the most significant bill for social change to be debated this decade – End of Life Choice; voted or spoke out consistently against non-core government spending such as corporate welfare, burdensome regulations, and additional taxes; has been the sole voice for freedom of speech and proper democratic process; and – who could forget – passed legislation allowing bars to open early in the morning for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Now the 2019 Rugby World Cup is upon us and occasional punters like me will be heading to the nearest friendly bar to watch the big matches, some of which aren’t starting till after 10 pm NZ time. That means without a special licence or change in legislation, there would be fewer options and many businesses would be put through a whole lot of red tape to be able to open. Once again thanks to David, we can find an open bar with a big screen, enjoy a beverage, or simply find some company with whom to watch the games. Please remind your friends, when you’re at the next late evening match, to raise a glass to David.

FLAVOURS UP IN SMOKE

This is not new, ACT spoke about it nearly a year ago, but the legislative changes to vaping products are now imminent.

You may have noticed the ads on TV in the evenings recently. Turns out my good friend Cameron Brewer’s PR Agency is behind them, and they make some very good points around the effects of the legislation.

Changes to advertising rules around vaping products may mean that the availability of a safer alternative to smoking remains a mysterious, almost underground scene to anyone curious about making the switch.

“Going forward we believe it’s critical to keep informing Kiwis that vaping is an effective tool for smokers to quit and is 95% less harmful than cigarettes. That’s the only way New Zealand will ever get close to achieving its ambition of being a smoke-free country.”

The ban on flavours of nicotine liquids will also likely be counter-productive to meeting any smoke-free targets.

I have a good number of friends who have been able to quit smoking by transitioning to vaping products. Flavour is an important part of their new enjoyment. To allow only flavours that taste like the thing they’re quitting may make it tempting to return to cigarettes as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The old taste needs to be forgotten and replaced with a preferred taste.

Genuine ex-smokers are posting on-line images like the following:

As with all things that aren’t good for us, it is not for us to moralise over another’s choice unless that choice materially impacts on us or takes away our own choice, e.g. not to inhale second-hand smoke. Most general practitioners now recommend that smokers who are having trouble giving up the highly addictive, combustion and carcinogenic form of inhaling nicotine, try replacing it with the smokeless option.

On behalf of my many friends who have successfully quit smoking this way, and then some of them vaping, I’m promoting this petition.