Party pills can be banned and soon will be. But the party poopers can't ban ideas.
That's what Act NZ has so far failed to state outright, as it bats away the political stick it's been getting over the free-wheeling entrepreneurialism exhibited by the junior members who offered free party pills to entice university students to sign up to the party.
Ideas have the power to change society, which is what really makes Act founder Sir Roger Douglas' decision to set his sights on a Cabinet post again one of the most exciting developments in our politics.
Douglas has always been dangerous - even if you disagreed violently with him (which I did on some policies during his time as Labour's reformist finance minister during the 1980s) there was no doubting what he stood for, nor his passion to make New Zealand a better place.
The 70-year-old has clearly lost none of his passion for conviction politics in the 18 years since he last held a Cabinet post and is brimming with observations about the need to make significant changes to secure New Zealand's future so that his own grandkids want to stay here.
Act leader Rodney Hide has been quick to capitalise on the news value of Douglas' move. A press conference Hide held with Douglas and MP Heather Roy at parliament on Thursday was well attended thanks to the party pill blooper.
But the more important development was the line in the sand that Act is already starting to draw on major policy issues thanks to Douglas' guiding presence.
Take climate change. Hide sits on the parliamentary select committee which is studying the mammoth Climate Change (Emissions Trading and renewable Preference) bill. This legislation, which will have a huge transformative effect on the New Zealand economy, is being rushed through Parliament.
On Thursday Hide revealed that Treasury estimates showed the impact of the emissions trading scheme on the economy would be major. For New Zealand to hold to its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels may be beyond the scope of the proposed trading regime. Taking the 2013-2050 period, there would be a cumulative cost of some $30 billion if a carbon price of $21.50 per tonne was applied, and, $72.4 billion if a $50 price was used. This must be offset.
The point of the scheme is to incentivise all players - firms, farmers, citizens - to change their practices to reduce their carbon footprints, or be faced with buying carbon credits to trade their way out.
Many of the 200-plus submissions that have poured into the committee raise major issues. But the committee is under a Government diktat to move it along so legislation is in place before the election.
Act is now making a major issue out of this policy in haste, repent at leisure approach, and condemns National for joining Labour in a rushed exercise. Act's alternative is to simply apply a carbon tax.
But the real takeout from the Thursday exercise is that Act has begun to differentiate itself from the policy blancmange that the major centre-right party (National) exhibits.
Many will cavil with Douglas' age (he is 70) suggesting he is a political "has been" and that New Zealand comprehensively rejected Rogernomics years back.
In fact, major elements have been retained: New Zealand is no longer protectionist, it has a free-floating exchange rate, central bank independence, relatively free labour markets, and state-owned enterprises working on commercial lines.
Helen Clark's Labour has repudiated the "misery" inflicted on people during the tumultuous change period, but it has not moved away from the central tenets and the PM frequently underlines this point with influential audiences offshore.
Act is having serious discussions with prominent New Zealanders to get them to stand for Act at this year's election.
Former National Party leader Don Brash would be a sitter if he wants to come across. Brash was at the centre of power politics in New Zealand from the mid-80s until John Key pushed him out of the party caucus.
Brash attended Act's hui earlier in the year but has (so far) remained publicly aligned to the National Party. Unless Key has him on a promise of a major offshore job if National wins the election, Brash would make a bigger contribution by re-entering the contest on Act's side. Catherine Judd is another target.
Act will have no problem in scooping up at least 3 per cent of the party vote this year and could well go much higher if advertising guru John Ansell - who created National's billboard for the 2005 election - succeeds in differentiating Act's brand while his former client sits on its hands. Ansell has come up with the "Act to bring your children home" slogan to illustrate the party's push for a 20-year plan to overcome the big gap between New Zealand and Australia. Making the first $30,000 income tax-free for families, and, getting rid of the 39 per cent top threshold will have cut-through.
It's widely believed that Act wants to get into bed with National if that party wins the election.
The more interesting question to pose is whether Act could get into bed with Labour. Douglas cites the "Helen Clark" factor (she has orchestrated the party list to drum out the Rogernomes) as a negative. But Act could work with a Phil Goff-led Labour.
Hide says from his perspective the issue is what policies Act could negotiate as part of a coalition agreement. Not with which major party.
I think the 70s might turn out to be a dangerous age, judging by the effect Sir Roger Douglas has had on the Act party's fortunes since his return to the political fray last weekend.By Fran O'Sullivan Email Fran