Sir Roger Douglas's latest column then is rather interesting reading:
However, it would be wrong to think that a party like ACT is only interested in economic freedom. There is no doubt that economic freedom is important to improving the lot of the ordinary individual. However, it is only one side of the coin. Freedom in the social sphere is just as important as it is in the economic sphere.Indeed.
I am always surprised by people who think that I have a conservative social policy. They attribute to me the label of “conservative politician.” This could not be further from the truth. The divide between social and economic freedom is a contrived one. There are no issues that do not have both social and economic implications. Just as the excess of government intervention can be seen in the economy, so too can it be seen in the lives of individuals. I do not advocate “no government” there is a proper role for the government to play in education, healthcare, law enforcement, and the environment amongst others. But there is no role for the government to strip individuals of their civil liberties denying them the ability to pursue their idea of the good life. There are clear examples in New Zealand where this is or has been the case.
The use of the criminal justice system against those who engaged in homosexual activity was one of the clearest examples of the harm that the restrictive nature of government can cause. This is why, in 1986, I voted in favour of homosexual law reform.
The passage of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 by the Labour Party is another example of government overreach. It denies Maori the right to test their claims to certain aspects of the foreshore and seabed in the courts. It is often forgotten that this piece of legislation was unanimously opposed by the ACT Party. The abrogation of the right to due process is a breach no friend of freedom can ignore.
The continuing denial of legal pain relief to some people with chronic illness is unjustifiable. For some, smoking marijuana may be the best means to ease their pain. In 2009, I was sorry to see 84 MPs vote against the Green Party’s medicinal marijuana bill. All five ACT MP were amongst the 34 MPs who voted in favour.
This touches on a broader argument, mainly the status of marijuana in our society. I am surprised that young adults do not push harder for reform in this area, given the numbers that have tried and use marijuana. The issue of legalisation is a complex one, and there is no doubt that there are countervailing issues that may make us less willing to decriminalise it (such as the effect it may have on families), but it is a debate we should be willing to have.