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Anderton's Welcome Back, Greens Off The Guest List

Cabinet will have a place for the deputy prime minister and erstwhile Alliance leader Jim Anderton should Labour form the next government, but there will be no coalition with the Greens, if Prime Minister Helen Clark has her way.

“Jim Anderton has been a successful minister, and that should continue,” she said.

Miss Clark announced the general election date would be Saturday 27 July this afternoon, at a media conference following Labour’s caucus.

The prime minister made it clear that coalition with the Greens is undesirable, saying New Zealanders do not want small parties holding senior partners to ransom over single issues like genetic modification.

“I do not believe that it is acceptable to New Zealanders to see small parties exercise a balance of power irresponsibly. I give full credit to Jim Anderton for the emphasis he has placed on steady government and look forward to working with him again,” Miss Clark said in a compare-and-contrast between Jim Anderton and the Greens.

Miss Clark said her party’s differences with the Greens ran deeper than the impasse over the lifting of the GM moratorium, which the Greens would be prepared to bring down the government over – saying the Greens don’t like trade and don’t like growth.

The prime minister said she would not be entertaining any suggestions of a coalition with the Greens prior to the election.

Asked if she would still endorse Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons in Coromandel, Miss Clark said Labour would be campaigning for two ticks and said she didn’t think Coromandel was essential to the Greens’ campaign.

The prime minister said she would be running a strong two-tick campaign nation-wide, which she said should be successful on present evidence, indicating Labour would be shooting for an absolute majority, thus avoiding dog-wagging coalition partners.

She said Labour’s sky-high approval rating in opinion polls, which appear to have peaked, were not a consideration in deciding on a date.

Green co-leaders Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons said the parties of the right would not be a factor, and there was no question Labour would ‘win’ the election.

"The only question is whether New Zealanders want to give Labour the absolute power to ram legislation through, including letting GE out of the lab. We are urging voters to give us the mandate to keep Labour honest,” they said in a statement released soon after Miss Clark’s announcement.

The prime minister rejected suggestions that Mr Anderton was responsible for Parliament degenerating into a farce, which she cited for going to the polls nearly four months short of a full term. No one person can be held responsible for the breakdown in relations within the Alliance, she said.

Pressed on who was to blame for the farce, she would not name names, refusing even to directly blame the opposition. However, she said their “pointless points of order” over the status of the Alliance demeaned the public standing of Parliament.

“It’s of concern to all of us when parliament becomes a farce on a daily basis,” she said.

Miss Clark said going to the polls early has been on her mind for over two months, but it was important to have delivered the budget and had confidence expressed in it, and to get the electoral enrolment campaign underway first.

She said she was not concerned about going into a campaign while the secondary teachers’ industrial action was still unresolved.

The prime minister said the police investigation into her alleged art-fraud was not a factor in calling the election. She said it was in the hands of her lawyers and she would not be commenting on it.

She said Parliament would wind up later this week. Asked if there would be time for valedictories, Miss Clark said there should be, adding that quite a few members wouldn’t be back.


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