A bitter fight has erupted within the ACT Party over the decision by leader John Banks to vote against keeping the alcohol purchasing age at 18.
The move by Banks to support measures to further control the supply of liquor has some party strategists worried. They are concerned that an increasingly sober populace in control of its senses and making sensible voting choices would be a disaster for the party.
The issue has led to divisions within the party, and questions being raised about whether John Banks is the right person to lead the ACT Party.
The party’s annual conference, which took place over the weekend in a bus shelter in Parnell, highlighted a number of differences of opinion between party members on the direction ACT should take.
A small but vocal faction appears determined to return ACT to its libertarian foundations, while another faction continues to push for more conservative policies.
A third faction failed to attend the party conference, because it was back at its house in front of its PC writing rambling and angry comments on Kiwiblog about the evils of socialism, and blaming everyone but itself for its fall into disgrace and ruination.
Of all the policies ACT has advocated, it is the alcohol age one that threatens to fatally divide the party.
“People need to be drinking more,” said the party’s president Chris Simmons. “If we can grow the level of intoxication throughout society, especially at election time, there’s a chance a few voters might stumble into polling booths drunk and accidentally vote for us.
“What we don’t need are wowsers like John Banks telling people they can’t drink and make disastrous voting decisions. ACT stands for freedom and liberty, and we strongly believe that everyone should be free to make terrible, terrible mistakes.”
Former MP John Boscawen admitted he had “some concerns” about the decision by John Banks to vote for the alcohol law change.
“Young people are particularly stupid when they come into contact with alcohol,” said Mr Boscawen, “and when they’re that tanked up anything can happen.
“Sure, some of these kids will drink so much that they end up falling into a gutter or getting into trouble with the police. But some of them will join ACT on Campus.”