The following is the full text of Prime Minister Helen Clark's statement read to the Press Gallery in the Beehive Theatrette at 12pm today.
PM announces election date
Today I am announcing that the general election will be held on Saturday 27 July.
This date is some two and a half months earlier than I had originally envisaged.
For a considerable period of time now, New Zealanders have been indicating a good level of satisfaction and comfort with the government’s leadership, direction and management.
We have been a steady government which has got on with doing what it said it would and provided leadership on the issues. The better balance we have brought to economic and social policy has been widely welcomed. A growing economy, lower unemployment, and much more investment in public and social services have been among our key achievements
Over the past two and a half years we have built the foundations for a stronger economy. There is much more to do, but we have made a good start as we promised we would.
In recent months, events in Labour’s coalition partner have brought it to breaking point. While the Alliance has continued in Parliament as a coalition partner, its component parts will contest the next election as two parties.
While this change has not affected the functioning of the government, it is now undoubtedly having an impact on our ability to progress our programme in Parliament. Large amounts of time are being wasted on most sitting days on pointless points of order. Many bills are subject to undue delay.
It is clear to me that that time
wasting by the Opposition will continue to obstruct the
passage of important legislation until an election is
called. Little would be achieved by having Parliament sit
for another two months. Indeed to prolong Parliament’s
sitting at this point can only further demean its public
standing and enhance its unfortunate image as an institution
which achieves little. In my view the will of the majority
of New Zealanders is being thwarted and I intend
to put that to the test.
There have been increasing calls from business and the general public to end speculation so that the sense of stability which the country has appreciated under this government can be restored as quickly as possible.
I have therefore decided that it is time to clear the air by calling a fresh election and seeking a new mandate.
I am confident that a majority of New Zealanders want the leadership, the direction, and the programme of our government to continue. A clear mandate given by new elections will enable that to happen.
I have waited until now to announce the election for a number of reasons. I believe it was important for the electoral enrolment campaign to get well underway, as it did a month ago. I also believe that it was important for the government to present its Budget and to have confidence expressed in it. That happened at the end of the last three week session at the end of May.
In seeking a new mandate, I am seeking the opportunity to form and lead a strong government. I do not believe that it is acceptable to New Zealanders to see small parties exercise a balance of power irresponsibly. This term our government has been strong and stable because that has not happened. I give full credit to Hon Jim Anderton for the emphasis he has paced on steady government and look forward to working with him again.
I have advised the Governor General this morning to dissolve Parliament on the 18th of June and she has accepted that advice. This will allow the House to deal with necessary legislation in an orderly manner this week.
Writ day will be Tuesday 25 June. Nomination day will be Tuesday 2 July.
I will launch Labour’s election campaign in Auckland on Sunday June 30th
I am looking forward to this election campaign.
I am very positive about our government’s achievements. Our record is one of steady progress in building a better New Zealand.
Our guiding principles have been fairness, opportunity, and security.
We are ambitious for our country in the 21st century.
With a new mandate, we can do even more to build a more prosperous, confident, creative, tolerant, and decent nation, and we will.
In the coming weeks our new commitment card and policies will be released. Our top priorities for the next term will be continued economic and job growth, more investment in health and education, securing New Zealand Superannuation, and maintaining law and order. We have also made significant progress this term in areas such as the environment and arts and culture. That will continue. Our policies are inclusive and build the capacity of all New Zealanders to share in the nation’s success.
My objective is to see Labour returned to office in a stronger position to take forward the many positive programmes we have begun in our first term.
With a new mandate we will continue to offer the strong leadership and clear direction for the future which New Zealanders look for from their government.
Being in government is a privilege, and that privilege must be earned every day. We go to this election seeking the opportunity to serve New Zealand again and committed to ensuring that our country and all its people reach their full potential in the 21st century.
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