Neil Morrison, Bruce Beetham, Gary Knapp
Social Credit MPs 1984
The first noteworthy proponent of Social Credit in New Zealand was H. M. Rushworth, Country Party MP for the Bay of Islands from 1928 to 1938. In the House he proposed major Social Credit arguments, namely, that credit and the monetary system should be controlled by the people through the Government; that a gap existed between purchasing power and production costs; that the gap could be bridged by the issue of credit; and that Parliamentary party control should not be unduly rigid.
At that time the New Zealand Social Credit Association was an educational body, prevented by its constitution from being a political party. In 1936 it was a major force in getting the first Labour government, who, under Michael Joseph Savage, campaigned for monetary reform, elected. Labour used social credit to good effect, using the newly nationalised Reserve Bank to fund the building of 30,000 state houses and to provide low interest overdrafts for the dairy board and other producer boards, but it didn't last.
NZ Social Credit Political League
In May 1953, the New Zealand Social Credit Political League was formed. Led by W.B. Owen it contested 79 seats in the 1954 Parliamentary elections, polling 11.31% of all votes cast, but did not win a seat. The election policies were similar to those put forward by Rushworth 20 years previously, but they also included pledges to reduce taxation progressively which would lead to falling costs of production and an increase in the purchasing power of incomes; to abolish social security tax without reducing benefits; to support private enterprise; and to enact legislation to eliminate unfair trade practices.
In 1957 the party gained 7.21% and 1960, under new leader P. H. Matthews, 8.62%. Additional policies included setting up a national monetary authority to ensure a balance between production and income; reducing bureaucratic controls; encouraging farming; reducing school classes sizes; improving health services; encouraging preventive medicine; introduction of a Bill of Rights limiting the powers of Government and safeguarding the rights of the individual; allowing pensioners to travel free on Government-owned services outside holiday periods. All those policies endure today.
The party gained its first MP in 1966 when a massive effort by supporters saw Kerikeri accountant Vernon Cracknell win the Hobson seat in Northland.
The Party's next success came in the Rangitikei by-election in February 1978 when
leader Bruce Beetham won, a feat he repeated in the general election later that year following a brilliant campaign by master organiser Henry Raynel. Beetham remained MP until 1984 when a reorganisation of the electoral boundaries removed his home base of Marton out of the electorate.
In 1981 under his charismatic leadership, and with the addition of Gary Knapp who won the East Coast Bays seat, defeating Don Brash (who went on the become Reserve Bank governor), the party gained its highest ever vote - 20.65% of all votes cast, but won only two seats under the "first past the post" electoral system. That result drove the call for a change to a proportional voting system.
The Party has contested every election since 1954.
It has always advocated policies that were ahead of their time - proportional voting in 1972 (enacted 1993); an anti nuclear New Zealand in 1978 (enacted 1987).
It published "You and Your Environment", a 28 page document about protecting the environment, recycling, etc in 1973, and "Industry an People" a 16 page document proposing new concepts for industrial organisation, and ways to provide income for workers losing jobs due to the advancement of computers and robot technology.
Monetary reform is now being promoted in New Zealand and internationally by economists, professors of economics and economic commentators.
Members of Parliament
Vernon Cracknell (1966–1969)
Bruce Beetham (1978–1984)
Gary Knapp (1980–1987)
Neil Morrison (1984–1987)