Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Interview: A Young NZer Acts to make a Difference

Interview: A Young NZer Acts to make a Difference



This is another in a series of on-line interviews with Young New Zealanders who are the up-and-coming next generation of political activists and leaders.  We may or may not always agree with them – but these young people will be the ones who influence and form our society in years to come…


Hayden Fitzgerald

Hayden Fitzgerald


This online interview is with Hayden Fitzgerald, current President of ACT on Campus;  ACT Party Board Member for Central Region; and  ACT Candidate for Rangitikei in the 2011 Election.

Kia ora, Hayden, and thank you for giving us your time and answers to the following questions…

Q: You’re the current President of ACT on Campus and stood as a candidate in the last election;  how long have you been a member of ACT, and what attracted you to that Party – as opposed to, say, another Party?

I was originally a Green Party fan, switching to National as I studied more economics. I became dissatisfied with National’s failure to act upon the areas it identified as problems while in opposition so switched across to ACT early last year.

Q: What has been your personal best experience with ACT thus far?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of representing ACT as the Candidate for Rangitikei.

Q: How do you feel about ACT’s numbers dropping from five to just one MP at the last election?

I think it’s really sad to see ACT’s numbers shrink so much but ACT’s campaign was far from perfect so I think it was predictable.

Q: If ACT goes the way of The Alliance, which other Party do you think would be the natural home for ACT supporters – National?

Personally I don’t think there is a natural other home for ACT supporters. A large majority would likely go to National but others wouldn’t. I think if ACT was to disappear another party similar would rise up to fill the gap before long.

Q: Do you think ACT can re-build its electoral support? Or do you feel that ACT is a “tarnished brand”, and a new liberal party is required with a fresh look to it?

There’s no doubt that the ACT brand is damaged but I think the support base can be rebuilt if the Party sticks to its core values. A complete rebranding of the Party could be something worth considering but the cost of doing so may not outweigh the cost of repairing the current brand. Which direction you think ACT should take here will differ depending on who you talk to!

Q: What are your thoughts on ACT’s recent leadership changes and what impact, if any, do you think they had on ACT’s support?

Referring to John Banks I think it was something that had to happen. Having your only MP as the leader of the Party is really the only practical option. I don’t think it has influenced the support base of the party much. The next three years will determine.

Q: If you had been casting a vote for ACT’s leadership, who would you have supported, Rodney Hide or Don Brash?

Don Brash

Q: Why is that? What are the qualities that you believe Don Brash had, but not Rodney Hide?

Fresh face; one would have thought he would have brought a lot of existing popularity with him.

Q: There have been suggestions that Heather Roy could have made a good leader of ACT. Do you agree with that? If she had been leader, do you think she could  have attracted a greater share of the womens’ vote?

I think Heather is a lovely lady who made a very good politician. I think that she could have contributed a lot as a leader of ACT and no doubt the women’s vote would have increased if she were leader. However, the same would be true of many others.

Q: Do you have a top three list of priorities that ACT should focus on, this Parliamentary term?

Choice, Personal Responsibility and Limited Government.

Q: Have you read or heard of Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”, and his proposal for a Universal Basic Income/negative tax for the first $11,000?

Yes. Personally I favour a tax free threshold of $30,000 and a flat 20% after that with GST kept at 15% and no company tax.

Q: But no negative tax (or Universal Basic Income as some call it)?

There would definitely have to be some form of “Universal Basic Income” in the way of a safety net. We just have to be careful not to create incentives not to work.

Q: Recently, US billionaire Warren Buffett highlighted how he paid tax at a much lower rate than his own staff, who, in many instances were paying roughly double the rate he was. What do say to people like Buffett who state that the rich are not paying their fair share in taxes? Or do you agree with him?

With a simpler tax system, as I identified above this sort of thing would not happen. This is also an American example. This doesn’t happen to the same extent here in New Zealand.

Q: New Zealand has a fairly free market economic regime compared to, say, the Scandinavian countries. Yet places like Finland and Denmark, notable social-democracies with strong welfare systems and state services, have a high PPP per capita income to New Zealand. Why aren’t we light years ahead of the Scandinavians – especially after 27 years of reforms?

I think it’s very hard to compare New Zealand’s economy to these as we’re so different.

Q: Oh, in what way? What do you think are major differences?

Different climate, population and distance from other countries. Truth is I don’t know much about these economies but I do have a friend who lives in Finland that isn’t too fond of the way things are run.

Q: What, if anything should we be doing different?

Simpler tax system, smaller Government.

Q:  State funding of private schools? Or should they be left to succeed or fail on their own merit?

I favour the voucher system, so parents can send their child to whichever school benefits their child the most, be it public or private.

Q: But would you allow a private school to fail and go into liquidation, if it got to that stage?

Yes; I don’t support Government bailouts.

Q: The minimum wage? Especially when Bill English said on Q+A that it was extremely difficult to live on the minumum wage for any long period of time?

The problem with minimum wages is that they harm the very people they’re supposed to help. I also question whether or not it is up to the Government to decide what an individual can and cannot work for; should it not be up to the individual to decide what a fair wage for them is? I also note that the current minimum wage equates to a lot more than being on social support. Under a simpler tax system with a high tax free threshold low income people would be a lot better off as they would pay no tax.

Q: In what way do you think a minimum-wage harms people?

Locks them out of employment; particularly young people. In theory there is no need for a minimum wage. The minimum wage is equivalent to the safety net that is provided; currently just under $5 an hour.

Q: The Auckland waterfront dispute? What are your thoughts on how Labour and National have responded to this issue? Or should they not intervene?

I don’t think the Politicians should intervene in these issues.

Q: The partial sale of some SOEs? Should New Zealanders be given first option to buy shares, or should the IPO be made available to any/all without any restrictions/criteria at all?

  I’m fine with all New Zealanders’ getting first option.

Q: The sale of productive farmland to overseas investors?

Foreign investment is extremely important to our economy. We also invest a large amount of money overseas. If we want to maintain our free trade agreements we cannot discriminate against foreign buyers. It also raises an issue around property rights; should you not be allowed to sell something you own to whomever you choose?

Q: Mining? Especially of conservation lands?

Cost vs. benefit analysis. I’m generally against mining of conservation lands but we must weigh up how much damage would be done to how easy it would be to repair it etc.

Q: Climate change?

I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded.

Q: Deep sea oil drilling? Especially after the ‘Rena’ stranding? Are we adequately prepared?

The Rena was a boat whose Captain wasn’t following the rules; as such the company who own the ship and their insurers should be taken for the full cost of repair. I think our regulations around this could do with a review; whether or not much needs changed I don’t know enough to comment.

Q: Should Kiwisaver be compulsory? Should there be an opt-out option?

No. Kiwisaver performance is nowhere near good enough to warrant it being compulsory. Also raises issues around freedom. It would be unfair for the Government to force me to put my own money into Kiwisaver.

Q:  Roads or rail? Which should have priority?

That should be up to the market! Personally, I think both have a place though. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The proper market would allocate them accordingly.

Q: Free school meals – should they be introduced in all schools? Just low-decile shools? Or not at all?

Not at all. Could perhaps look at doing something based upon individual applications for those in genuine need but I think the real solution is better parental education.

Q: Republic or not?


Q: What, in your opinion, has been the worst aspect or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Continuation of wasteful spending that has resulted in high debt levels that my generation will have to pay back, particularly around ignoring the elephant in the room relating to our superannuation scheme.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the best aspect, or single thing, about John Key’s government?

Mixed ownership model.

Q: How do you feel about our current media? Do you feel that the state has a role to play in public broadcasting – perhaps to set standards or broadcast material that, while informative, might not rate highly on a commercial level? Or should it be left totally to the Market to deliver quality broadcasting?

Lean toward it being left completely the market. If people want to watch it, regardless of what it is, the market will provide it. Likewise with broadcasting standards, if a tv channel is broadcasting obscene content then not many will watch it; no need for regulation.

Q:  And is TV3’s planned “The GC” ‘quality tv’?

Probably not something I’ll watch but none the less does seem like the kind of show that would have a broad appeal.

Q: If ACT was in government as the major coalition Party, and you were an MP offered a ministerial role, what portfolio would you want? And why?

Tough decision. Probably Finance, Small Business, Primary Industry or Social Development as these are areas that interest me.

Q: In your opinion, what is the single most critical problem affecting us as a society? How would you address that problem? And what time-frame would you give yourself?

Inflated Government. I would address this by cutting unnecessary regulations and laws like the RMA, cut Government Spending and taxes and shrink all areas of the Government except core services. This could all be done very quickly but I would like to see it happen over 5-10 years as to ease transitional unemployment as people shift from public sector to private sector employment.

Q: What, in your view, would constitute core services?

Defence, basic safety nets (including adequate access to health care for all), basic standards in education, stopping market dominance (via Commerce Commission), Law and order, negotiating with overseas countries (free trade etc.)

Q: Are your friends and family political? How do you relate to those friends and family who aren’t political?

Very few of my friends are political and none of my family are. I suppose I relate to them the same as anyone else does! (Politicians are people too ;))

Q: Can you share with us some of your most favourite things,

* food?

Subway (I dream about it!)

* place to live?

Anywhere in the bottom half of the South Island.

* movie and/or tv program?

American Pie (all of them)

* book?

“The Greatest Show on Earth” – Richard Dawkins

* prominent historical person you admire the most? And why?

Roger Douglas for having the balls to do what’s right.

Q: And your Last Word is on;

National and Labour are the biggest obstacles to the modernisation and eventual success of our economy. New Zealanders need to wake up and stop trying to vote themselves rich. The only way to prosperity is through choice, personal responsibility, individual freedom and limited Government.

Thank you, Hayden, for sharing with us!

Folks wishing to contact Hayden and ACT may do so at; president@actoncampus.org.nz, www.actoncampus.org.nz, www.act.org.nz

Facebook: ACT on Campus, ACT, Hayden Fitzgerald





This blog is not affiliated to ACT in any way, shape, or form.

Other Blogposts in a similar theme

Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!



= fs =

  1. 29 April 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I must admit to being impressed that Hayden would take part in a project like this, from an opposing end of the political spectrum to where he sits. But I believe in rational discourse between opposing points of view, and no one has a monopoly on good ideas.

    I hope readers take time to comment on this interview – but with courtesy. In a manner of speaking, he’s my “guest” on this blog.

  2. Lucy
    29 April 2012 at 8:28 pm

    hahahaha, he actually thinks Don Brash is a “fresh face”? Dude needs to get out more.

  3. 30 April 2012 at 8:43 am

    Great interview – good to get a youthful perspective.
    I’m curious to know what Hayden would replace the RMA with? Would he be happy to leave environmental protection to the market?

    Media: I suggest that unfettered media results in silly competition, like two great programmes on at the same time on different channels – so the channels compete for viewers, because blind competing is what they do. This happens a lot and is not about providing choice for viewers. The difference between the quality of news & current affairs (and I don’t mean who’s bonking who!) provided by TV7 and the rest is quite startling.
    Does Hayden have any concerns that “market” and “commercial” imperatives result in programming designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, courtesy of advertising directed at that same demographic? Do we not lose the depth and variety, the provocation of “different” perspectives?

    • 3 May 2012 at 5:05 pm

      Hi, Kerry

      Thanks for your response.

      I think that the environment is best served by having strong property rights laws and free markets. A great example of this can be found here: http://www.perc.org/articles/article1473.php

      Regarding media, the only concern I have is that programs like “The GC” are being publicly funded!

      Kind Regards,


      • 3 May 2012 at 7:24 pm

        “Regarding media, the only concern I have is that programs like “The GC” are being publicly funded!”

        Have to agree 100% with you on that one, Hayden! *thumbs up*

  4. Theodore
    30 April 2012 at 9:26 am

    At first glance I thiought this was a joke, but the interview comes across well. I think Hayden’s youthful naivete shows through but who wasn’t at that age? I was doing burnouts and dope at his age. So good on him for putting his hand up.

    Having said that I think he’s on the wrong track politically. For example, choice is limited when you have a low income.The lower your income the lower your options. The choices for someone on minimum wage are way narrower than someone in the top 10% income bracket. Fact of life.

    I noticed that Hayden didn’t fully explain why a minimum wage is harmful. From what I understand, the minimum wage stops employers from driving down wages until we end up competing with India or Fiji.

    • 30 April 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks for your response, Theodore.

      I hope the naivete will fade as I grow older!

      I understand your point about limited choice when you have a low income. But personally, I live comfortably on no more than $200 a week. Where you end up in relation to income choices should be completely up to hard work, and a touch of luck. So long as we ensure that nobody goes without and that everyone is given equal opportunity to succeed I’d be happy.

      Minimum wages are harmful because they lock people out of employment. The removal of youth rates has effectively taken out the bottom rungs of the ladder for many young people. (I lost my part time job when they were taken away.) Effectively the only ‘minimum wage’ we should need should be level at which social security is set. Currently this equates to about $5 per hour or around $200 per week. From there it should be up to the individual to decide whether or not they think their time is worth a particular wage.

      • simon
        3 May 2012 at 12:04 pm

        Hi Hayden, can you expand on your reason to remove the RMA. here’s my perspective so you can perhaps provide some counter points.

        1. the environment is finite and uses equilibrium to maintain order, if you put something where its not supposed to be it will force the environment to swing out of equilibrium and into an unsteady state of degradation.
        2. if you degrade the quality of land, you degrade the quality of life that land can provide
        3. by following a policy that looks out for the finite environment you can minimize our impacts on our quality of life.

        so why not have a policy that does all that (RMA) or do you propose a new environmental policy.

  5. 3 May 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Hi, Simon

    Thanks for your response.

    The points you make are all correct.

    However, I believe that the RMA is the biggest barrier to improving New Zealanders’ living standards (other than the Government.) The RMA goes too far. Under the current system a farmer must seek approval (and incur large amounts of costs in doing so) to build a barn on his own land.

    Protection of our environment is extremely important but the current structure of the RMA goes too far. The way I look it at is you should be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want to your own land UNLESS it interferes with the rights of others. So in short, yes we need some form of environmental regulation, but it just can’t be as heavy handed and wide reaching as the current RMA.

    Kind Regards,


  6. 3 May 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Note: If anyone is finding that they cannot post here, please contact me: fmacskasy at yahoo dot com. (There’s a ‘glitch’ somewhere preventing some folk from posting.)

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