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Plain English - 10 May 2002

English - A Weekly Update From Bill English, Leader Of The National Party

One Standard of Citizenship

This week I gave a speech to the Victoria University School of Public Law setting out a detailed historical argument how the Treaty created one sovereignty and one standard of citizenship. The speech explains the background to British thinking at the time, which was mostly constructive and principled, but is often overlooked today. I argued that the Treaty is part of international law and should be interpreted according to international convention, taking into account the intentions of both parties, not just one party. It's a fairly academic speech, based on work done by Simon Upton and National researcher, Bernard Cadogan. Too much policy is based on uncontested assertions about the Treaty. I want to see more intelligent and open debate, so we can build better foundations for judicial and political discussions on Treaty issues. You can find the full speech at

The Alliance and the House

I have been asked why we are putting pressure on Labour and the Alliance over the bizarre arrangements in the House. Parliament is a House of Representatives with its own integrity. It's a place of robust debate and occasionally real political drama. It runs on a code of integrity. Anderton's and Clark's arrangements undermine the integrity of Parliament with their calculated deceit. It doesn't matter how smart the arrangement is - it is wrong. Gerry Brownlee, as Shadow Leader of the House, has done a good job of forcing the Speaker to confront reality - its two highest-ranking politicians are deceiving Parliament.

Winning Wellington Central

Hekia Parata launched her campaign in Wellington Central this week and showed why she will beat Marian Hobbs. Her campaign will hold national interest partly because the national press live in the seat - they showed up in large numbers. We expect only the Coromandel and Tauranga campaigns to have a higher profile. The launch was an inspiring mix of National Party, Ngati Porou, and an outstanding speech by Hekia. Wellington Central has been a fulcrum of national moods; its voters are politically aware and willing to judge candidates on performance.

New Media

This weekend we launch the National Times, a new magazine on political issues. It looks more like Woman's Weekly than a traditional newsletter. It will be an insert in the Sunday Star Times, and other publications to achieve national coverage. We are creating our own media and a new style of communication. It's simply too difficult to communicate new-look National in sound bites on TV. I am keen to get your feedback on the publication, which has already had considerable publicity.

Good Question...

I don't like to be negative but if Labour is so competent, why can't they sort out the teachers' strike? The risk is that teachers will ban extra curricular activities, and experience in Britain has shown they never go back. Labour calculated that public opinion would move against teachers - they were wrong, and a letter published in daily papers by Mallard has alienated parents and teachers alike.

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