Reading Don Brash’s letter to John Key and watching Roger Douglas on Q+A, I wonder if the Nats behind the takeover of ACT realised what they were unleashing. I’ve heard some talk that ACT won’t vote for Key’s Budget. Where would that leave Rodney Hide? Where would that leave the Maori Party? Could we see a snap election?
Hide, apart from the famous “do nothing” slip, has been a dedicated Key loyalist. That was, in no small part, the cause of ACT’s decline under his leadership. He subsumed ACT’s brand into National’s the way Jim Anderton has the Progressives’ into Labour’s.
Brash is an old man in a hurry. I can’t see him wasting time with the compromise of letting his party vote for a Budget that continues National’s reckless borrowing. I think there is a real chance he will order his MPs to vote against it.
What happens if ACT signals it will vote against the Budget?
First, Hide has to decide if he will stick with his party or keep his portfolios. I’m picking he would turncoat and back National. It’s not like he owes Brash anything.
But National plus Dunne plus Hide only equals 60, two short of a majority, which has to come from the Maori Party.
Would the Maori Party vote for a budget that delivers spending cuts for the many while keeping tax cuts for the rich? That would be slitting their own throats in the fight against the Mana Party.
If they had any sense, the Maori Party would vote against the Budget if ACT did, meaning Parliament wouldn’t have confidence in the government and a snap election would be triggered.
Still, Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples arses are awfully comfortable in those heated limo seats.
Whether it gets to that point depends on whether Brash is just talk or is prepared to follow through on his beliefs to the hilt.