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Richard Prebble's Letter From Wellington 17/6/2002

Monday, 17 June 2002

Labour/Green Coalition

The Labour Party has signalled to the Greens that it wants a coalition (if the centre-left wins). Why? Labour's claim that it's going for an outright majority is bogus. No party has got over 50% since 1951.

Here is the evidence: - The Greens told Labour they needed an early election to allow time for coalition talks before Christmas. - The Greens were told the election date before Labour's own caucus. - Clark is still endorsing Jeanette Fitzsimons in Coromandel. - The fight over GE is bogus. Both Labour and the Greens know there'll be no "uncontrolled" release of GE outside the laboratory. It's an ideal non-issue to make a pretend stand. - There is growing evidence of close campaigning between Labour and the Greens. Labour issues its policy, and the Greens have their response ready to go. When Labour released its youth policy last Wednesday - the Greens appeared to have prior notice.

Create Your Own Opposition

Al Ries and Jack Trout in their classic 'Marketing Warfare' advise that if you are the market leader, you should create your own opposition. For example, Air New Zealand has created its own opposition, Freedom Air, to protect itself from Virgin Blue.

Labour strategists are convinced the Greens are the ideal opposition. Labour voters prefer the Greens to the Alliance as coalition allies. And National voters are so terrified at the thought of Sue Bradford as Minister of Corrections, and Keith Locke as Foreign Affairs Minister, that 30 percent say they will consider voting Labour to keep out the Greens.

To get the Greens to cooperate in this phoney war, Labour has had to share its polling and other key information.

State Radio

Radio New Zealand has actively assisted Labour. As the Letter reported last week, Morning Report ran a poll by UMR Research - Labour's polling company - which showed National voters would switch to Labour to stop the Greens. This is called leading public opinion by strategic polling.

The Letter was told that RNZ had commissioned the question and then given the impression it was part of an NBR poll. But the situation is actually worse.

Labour commissioned the question and then leaked it to the media.

No Vision

When calling an early election, strategists say it's essential to establish a credible reason. No one believes Labour's reasons. It is also essential to establish a vision statement. Where is Labour's policy? For that matter, where is National's? The only party with a clear alternative vision is ACT.

A Tax Cut for Every Worker

ACT's plan to kick-start the economy with a well-designed tax cut, has clicked with the electorate. Cutting company tax below Australia appeals to small business. And ACT's plan to reduce income tax for every working person, appeals right across the political spectrum.

Middle-income earners don't qualify for family support, state housing or a community card, they're paying the petrol tax and won't watch Maori TV. ACT's plan delivers $670 extra in the hand to someone on $40,000, and the whole package can be financed from the surplus. (

Zero Tolerance for Crime

ACT yesterday launched its election campaign in a made-for-TV rally outside Mount Eden Prison. More than 80% of the electorate support ACT's policy - "If you do the crime, you should do the time" - and ACT's support of the successful New York approach to policing, Zero Tolerance for Crime.

As you are more likely to be the victim of violent crime in New Zealand than America, personal safety will be a strong issue in this election. (See ACT's policy at

Mallard Gone for a Duck

The government is desperate to get talks going with teachers but the relationship between Trevor Mallard and the PPTA has broken down. They have not been on civil terms for more than a year. The Labour Cabinet is today considering appointing other Ministers to handle the talks. The last pay talks were settled by "the women" while Mallard was away.

If Labour wins the election, Mallard will lose the Education portfolio. And the caucus is so unhappy with him, he may not even be in Cabinet.

Constable 'A' Today, Prime Minister 'H' Tomorrow

Helen Clark's heart sank at the news the Chief Justice had said it was up to a jury to decide whether Constable 'A' had committed an offence.

How can the police now not prosecute Ms Clark?

The Overseas Vote

More than 170,000 Kiwis have left the country under Labour - many because they don't like the government. Last election, only 11,400 overseas votes were cast, because to vote from overseas was complicated. You had to re-enrol, and go to an embassy to vote.

Parliament has changed the law, so everyone on the roll is now eligible to vote. Overseas voters can get ballot papers off the internet. ACT got 12.8% of the overseas vote at the last election and ACT is campaigning hard for the overseas vote. If you have relatives or friends overseas, email them to log on to to link to the site for e-voting.

Economy Headed Downwards

Tractor sales at the Mystery Creek Field Days have been virtually zero. Last year every tractor sold and record orders were taken. This is a sign of how fast the economy is deteriorating.

Farmers are not buying for two reasons. The high dollar means their income is falling but it also means tractors imported from overseas are going to get cheaper as the dollar rises further - so why buy now?

Honour for Sir Roger Douglas

Sir Roger Douglas has been awarded the Hayek Medal, a rare international honour named after the Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek. The medal is given to "outstanding politicians, entrepreneurs and scholars who stand for the aims and values of a free society". Sir Roger is the first non-European to get the medal.


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