Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Plain English - Fri, 14 Jun 2002

Plain English - A Weekly Update From Bill English, National Party Leader

An issues-based campaign

Campaigning is the best part of politics. The public actually get interested in politics for a few, brief glorious weeks, and the politicians are reminded of the awesome power of democracy - thousands of people making up their own mind, instead of the weekly diet of media making it up for them. I'll be everywhere running a vigorous, fast-moving campaign with the people, rather than the measured careful presidential style.

At any rate, National has had a good start. Labour made the mistake of trying to dress up their opportunism, when it would have been better to openly say they thought it suited them now. I am proud to lead the first Opposition in the Westminster system to bring down a Government on points of order. There is no greater authority for this than Helen Clark. Talkback radio in particular has been strongly against the snap election.

Winston Peters said Labour threw in the towel, and Rod Donald had harsh words for Labour. Quite unexpectedly, Labour go into this campaign with no friends except for Jim Anderton. In the final vote to adjourn Parliament, the Greens and NZ First abstained. They can only succeed by taking Labour votes off them, not by supporting them. In '99 National had to deal with 4 parties opposing them. Now Labour has to do it. How did Helen manage to lose all her friends so quickly?

Setting the bar too high

Labour have set the bar at 50% of the vote - they have to stay there to pull off the gamble. Already they are losing more solid Labour votes to us over issues like tougher sentencing and resolving Treaty claims. As Labour drop into the 40s tactical National voters will face the reality - Labour simply can't get there on their own.

Simple question - simple answer

As the campaign progresses, Labour will have to answer this question - will they do a deal with the Greens - yes or no? With support from National, Labour could have refused to bring in the GM moratorium last year. Instead, they chose to do a deal with the Greens. If Labour had stuck to its principles then it wouldn't have a problem now. Now the Greens are simply telling Labour to do what it has already agreed once to do - continue the moratorium. Of course, Helen Clark will do a deal with the Greens; she has done it before on the GM issue and she will need the Greens to be in Government.

Issues matter

We will be campaigning on issues. We expect Labour to campaign on polling - "vote for us because we are ahead." I started campaigning two weeks ago and I've had an excellent response. I've run public meetings, visited schools and workplaces. Students like our bursary policy (A bursary $2000, B Bursary $1000). Everyone supports quick resolution of Treaty claims, and tougher sentences. There is growing support for our policy to rerun the referendum on MMP, and it will grow further when people realise it's an abomination of democracy to expect them to vote for policies they oppose to get stable government.

The brave debater

Helen Clark has avoided head-to-head debate with me since I became leader - and it's not for lack of trying on our part. I'm looking forward to it.

Restoring the airforce

New Zealanders are telling me everywhere I go that they strongly oppose Labour's decision to scrap the Skyhawks. This week, I released our defence policy, which commits to restoring an air combat wing by working with Australia. We want closer military relationships with Australia and the US. We need to lift our pitiful level of spending on defence and pull our weight in the region, rather than bludging off our neighbours. It's very important to build public consensus around the defence issue. Labour didn't bother with the Skyhawks, and the public have bitterly resented this. We will make sure the public is involved and that defence policy has agreement around it, rather than becoming a divisive issue. National's Epsom MP Richard Worth, who has a long involvement with the military, has taken over the defence spokesmanship from the retiring Max Bradford.

Thank you to the public

I want to thank the New Zealand public for the enormous support that they have given me over the last week, after the Fight for Life event.

spread the word...

Don't forget to forward this edition of 'plain English' on to your friends. If they want to receive their own copy encourage them to send an email to and we'll add their name to the list.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Another Reason To Loathe HR Departments (And On The Teachers Strike)

This morning’s news item about Police emergency call centre staff turning up for work while they’re sick – because they’re afraid their sick leave statistics will be used against them, and their jobs put in jeopardy – is not an isolated case...

Obviously, sick people shouldn’t be being treated by doctors and nurses who are themselves sick and potentially infectious. Similarly, Police emergency calls also need to be fielded by people who’re feeling alert, and on top of their game. More>>


MPs' Computers To Be Searched: Inquiry Into Leak On Simon Bridges' Expenses

An inquiry has been launched to find out who leaked the National Party's expenses to the media... Parliament's speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen's Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills. More>>


Teachers Strike: Nationwide Rallies And Marches

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: City Council Ends Its Support For Jackson’s Movie Museum

The Wellington City Council and the Movie Museum Limited have today announced a mutually-agreed parting of the ways for a joint project between the Council’s Convention Centre and TMML’s Movie Museum... Both parties remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects. More>>

Pay Equity: Historic Settlement For Education Support Workers

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Ministry of Education today signed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 support workers who work with very young children in early childhood and primary schools. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Stereotypes About Jacinda Ardern

Routinely, female politicians get depicted as either show ponies or battle axes, with little room for anything else in between. .. More>>

Weekend Interviews: "Discriminatory And Racist" Aussie Deportations

The former president of Australia’s Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs says deportations have risen dramatically in Australia since 2014 when ministers and ministerial delegates were given the power to cancel visas - and half of those being deported are New Zealanders. "These are massive numbers, actually escalating dramatically."... More>>


Legal Challenge: Prisoner Has 9 Boxes Of Documents Seized

Human rights organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says a prisoner they advocate for has had 9 boxes of legal documents seized from him just days before his case against the Department of Corrections was to be heard. More>>

Single-Use Plastic Bags: Govt To Phase Them Out

Single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out over the next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. More>>





Featured InfoPages