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The Week Ahead: Policy Galore And An MPS

The season of electioneering is now well and truly upon us. A report from Scoop's Jonathan Hill and Alastair Thompson surveys the week ahead.

There are a maximum of six sitting weeks left now and arguably this is the critical phase of the campaign. The election is now due roughly three months hence. The exact date hasn't yet been announced.

Certainly the pace of the campaign is stepping up with detailed policy now coming thick and fast. On Friday Phil Goff's key Youth Justice policy was launched but the timing faltered and coverage this morning is minimal.

This week both the Alliance and National are making major policy announcements. The Alliance are detailing their key economic development policy, called Partnership 2000, this afternoon, and National are launching their much hyped Five Steps Ahead package for prosperity this Wednesday.

On Wednesday we also have a Reserve Bank Monetary Policy statement which Scoop will be covering from the lock-up. Given the almost static nature of interest rates since the last one the Governor can probably be expected to conclude that the new cash rate system is working like a dream.

Nevertheless, given that it is campaign season, there can be expected to be loud and long debate on the point anyway.

This is the final non-sitting week before the house goes back for a three week session starting August 24th - finishing Wednesday September 8th. The house is rising early for Apec the following Weekend.

The house is then scheduled to resume on October 5th. The last possible sitting day is the 28th October.

The Alliance's Partnership 2000 is expected to focus largely on regional development with probably the announcement of a New Zealand owned bank. The Alliance are also promising increased expenditure on science and technology based industry and research. See…Springboard for economic growth released tomorrow in the Parliament wire. Scoop will carry details of the announcement as they come to hand.

See… http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9908/S00251.htm

National's Five Steps Ahead programme launch is a somewhat stranger affair. This Wednesday the programme will be launched simultaneously in five different centres throughout the country with live interactive television link-ups between television studios in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and a broadcast facility in a Palmerston North hotel.

The policy launch will also be live on the internet and will later be available on video. Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford says the policy package will be of special interest to the education, business and research sectors. See… Scoop: Five Steps Ahead Policy Launch.

See.. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9908/S00122.htm

Labour has been quick to condemn the announcement before the details are given, saying it is an expensive attempt to rebrand the party before the election. Finance spokesperson Dr Michael Cullen says the policy launch on Wednesday will be a "WINZ-style extravaganza" which is "an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money". See… Re-launch No. 7 doomed to failure in the Parliament wire.

See..http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA9908/S00244.htm

That considerable effort has gone into hyping this announcement up cannot be denied. The question is why such effort has gone into launching a policy in centres such as Dunedin and Palmerston North. Has National become too wary of the Wellington journalists and seeks a wider audience to carry their message accurately, or perhaps just proficiently?

A spokesperson for Max Bradford's office said the effort is being made to keep faith with the various communities who contributed to the formation of the policy. The National Party have held forums in 25 centres and spoken with over 2000 people in forming the policy and a lot of these people will be in the various studios to hear the policy reported back.

The two key issues remaining issues on the legislative agenda - with so little time left, probably just five weeks - are the liquor bill which is coming back on August 26th and the three pieces of producer boards reform enabling legislation. Other than that we can probably expect plenty of urgency coming up and a bit of tidying up on the Order Paper before the house rises.

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