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Plain English 22 February 2002

Plain English 22 February 2002

plain English

A weekly update from Bill English, National Party

Policy machine rolling

We are getting into the final stages of consultation and debate across a wide range of policies. Not all of them will be politically important, but I want to have a strong plan for government. The Caucus is getting down to pinning our positions, and communicating them positively. A central theme is lifting expectations and more ambition for New Zealand. We're looking to build the political debate around substantial propositions.

Head of State arrives

When the Queen arrives she comes as our Head of State for the last 50 years. Whatever views people have about the future of the monarchy there is no doubt of its place in our history. I told Parliament yesterday the Queen represents our British whakapapa. We are becoming a Pacific nation growing on roots deeply embedded in Britain. As this country starts to think about how to replace the monarchy, we will come to have greater respect for how the monarchy kept us globally fluent because we were connected to an empire. Maintaining global fluency has proved to be a challenge for us. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is away and the Queen was met by a prominent banker, Jim Anderton.

After the Economic Strategy

Helen Clark turned down the chance to debate her "innovation" statement with me on Holmes. If it was so good, I'm sure she would have turned up. We can expect to see more of this tactic through the year designed I am told to "deprive the Opposition of oxygen". The Government will focus on photo opportunities at home and coverage of Clark's international trips, rather than bread and butter issues, and there are plenty of those like the shambles in our health system finances, worst in her own backyard in Auckland.

Put New Zealand's interests first on Kyoto

Business people are not getting a good hearing on Kyoto despite spending 18 months being listened to by the Government. In the face of growing concern about the lack of certainty around Kyoto, Ministers are getting bad tempered about business not playing the game. I outlined our position on the issue this week in Auckland. I believe in putting New Zealand's interests first. That's why National will not ratify until we know the full costs and not before our trading partners and competitors.

This issue will have real political impact in regional centres like Invercargill and Whangarei where there are small scale heavy industries already working hard to stay competitive. Hodgson and Cullen don't seem to understand the corrosive effect of years of uncertainty on this matter. You can read more about National's position by clicking on this link PDF FILE LINK

High Tech links for New Zealand

I have accepted an invitation from one of the leading Governor's in the US, Gov Bill Owens of Colorado, to deliver the keynote address at his Science and Technology Commission next month. Substantial companies operating in areas directly complementary to New Zealand's unique economy will be attending. I want to get a feel for how we look to foreign investors and build relationships where their activities are directly complementary to our strengths. Government owns most of our biotechnology research capacity and should be looking for investors to help us get more out of it.

Labour's running out of partners

Labour is running out of coalition partners. Coalition with Labour has destroyed the Alliance and Helen Clark has opened the door for Mr Jim Anderton to rejoin Labour. This leaves the Greens, who are fast losing the gloss they gained last year, pondering their fate if they snuggle up too closely to Labour. I'm predicting National will go into this election with better prospects for a coalition partner than Labour.

Low income earners to be hit

Low income earners will be hit by soaring car prices because of new rules. Transport Minister Mark Gosche's rules for frontal beams will increase second-hand car prices by about $1500. The measure will theoretically save some lives, but officials advised that the benefits were not worth the costs. It's the sort of measure that is hard to oppose once it's there, but it will hit a lot of lower income people hard.

Full force of the law

It's about 10 days since Labour promised that the "full force of the law" would move the gangs out of their State houses in Palmerston North. Well, they are still there and local residents continue to feel intimidated. Meanwhile, Tariana Turia has told the gangs she will step in if the gangs can think of ways the Government "can be more helpful to your organisation."


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