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ACT To Campaign Overseas

Thursday 13 Jun 2002

The ACT Party is to campaign globally. ACT is sending MPs to campaign in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, leader Richard Prebble said today.

"Here is why. Since the election of this Labour government, 174,255 New Zealanders have left the country. Most are young, educated and skilled - the profile of the ACT voter. Best of all, most are eligible to vote," Mr Prebble said.

"Last election the overseas vote was significant but still only a fraction of the potential vote. The potential vote is many times higher. A paper produced by the Treasury estimates about 600,000 people born in New Zealand are now living overseas. Almost 400,000 ex-pat Kiwis live in Australia and a further 60,000 in Britain.

"A significant number are eligible to vote - ACT estimates about 250,000 potential voters. Yet last election just 11,400 of these voters cast a vote.

"The reasons are numerous but it's partly that overseas voting has been physically difficult. A second reason is the legal requirement that to cast a valid vote you must re-enrol each election.

"Labour, has changed that rule. Now there is no need to re-enrol. Further, Labour has introduced a new law - that a party vote is valid even if you have moved constituencies.

"Labour did this because they think it will give them what's known as the drifter vote. In fact, the labourer who drifts from area to area is a myth. This new rule will be of most benefit to the most mobile voters - the young graduates who are overseas.

"The next problem for overseas voters has been physically getting hold of a copy of a ballot paper. This election, for the first time, it is possible to get ballot papers electronically, off the internet.

"ACT believes the new enrolment laws could result in a ten-fold increase in the overseas vote.

"In the last election, ACT received 12.8 percent of the overseas vote. Indeed, as a percentage of ACT's total vote, the overseas vote for ACT was more than twice as high as any other party. Put another way, an increase in the overseas vote will benefit ACT more than any other party.

"We are using all of our resources to contact the overseas voters, including the worldwide web. ACT has been planning this some time and we have massively invested in electronic communication - e-politics.

"ACT has the best website and we receive up to one million hits a month - not every month, and of course that's not one million people.

Last month, ACT's website received 290,000 hits from overseas, including 13,200 from Australia and 9200 from the UK.

"We are going to use our web site to reach young voters and advise them that they can vote electronically.

"ACT is also running an email campaign. We have over 1000 overseas email addresses. We plan to expand this. ACT has a further 30,000 email addresses registered with us as supporters. Most of those people have, like myself, two adult children in London or know of the email address of a New Zealander overseas.

"ACT believes that we can contact by email over 100,000 overseas New Zealanders.

"The party has decided that we need to send ACT MPs overseas - to Australia, Hong Kong and United Kingdom. Australia, because that's where most Kiwis are. Eighty-eight thousand Kiwis have left for Australia under this government.

"Hong Kong is interesting. The number of New Zealand-Hong Kong residents who have left this country permanently is not great, but the number who are in Hong Kong temporarily is very significant.

"ACT is the leading party of preference for new residents from Hong Kong - because they recognise ACT as having the same values - hard work, thrift and personal responsibility. A significant number of Hong Kong/New Zealanders live in both countries.

"The United Kingdom is especially important to ACT. Thirty-six thousand New Zealanders have left to live in the UK under this government.

"ACT MP Stephen Franks is, as we speak, on his way to Australia, via Hamilton. And I am going to Hong Kong next week for just 48 hours - long enough to contact Hong Kong-New Zealanders there. Both trips are paid for privately.

"Stephen will meet with ACT's Sydney branch. I will spread the message that New Zealand residents who are back in Hong Kong can vote.

"ACT is also going to send our deputy leader, Ken Shirley, to the United Kingdom for at least a week during the campaign. Ken is paying for his own trip.

"ACT will send other MPs to Australia during the campaign itself, should we deem it necessary. We believe that our overseas vote is ACT's secret weapon. The young people who signed Richard Poole's famous advertisement feel like exiles.

"They support ACT's message of freedom and personal responsibility, of rewarding hard work, thrift and enterprise," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS


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