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Let's Have an Election - Richard Prebble Speech

Thursday 27 Jun 2002

Speech by Hon Richard prebble, Leader ACT New Zealand

to the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce

at 51 Willow Street, Tauranga,

on Thursday 27^th June 2002 at 7.30am

This is the election you have when you are not having an election. Labour, with its mile-high polling, is trying to do as little campaigning as possible. I have checked Labour's website. The only item that would tell you that there is an election is a news clip of Helen Clark announcing the election.

There is no reason given on Labour's website why anyone should vote Labour. There is no vision, no policy, no programme. The only reason given is `stability'. From a government that is calling a snap election because its coalition partner has disintegrated and its only coalition partner is the very unstable Green party - this is an extraordinary claim. That's the most bizarre thing about this election.

On the one hand, Helen Clark says Labour will not have a coalition with the Greens. On the other, Helen Clark is endorsing Jeanette Fitzsimmons in Coromandel. One of the reasons given for going early was to have time for coalition talks with the Greens after the election.

Labour and the Greens are in de facto coalition - Labour and the Alliance were a minority government.

The most bizarre thing is that one third of all Labour supporters say they are voting Labour to stop the Greens. The Greens freely admit they can only get power via Labour. The Greens say that there is no way they would co-operate with either National or ACT - a reciprocal fact. So Labour is the Greens' door to power. National and ACT are the Wall, to stop the Greens having power.

Labour's strategy is inherently risky and flawed. No party in Germany under MMP has ever got 50 percent of the vote. The last time it happened in New Zealand was 1951, under First Past the Post. I don't think the teachers' strike is going to do for Labour what the wharfies did for National in 1951.

If at any time in the next 30 days Labour falls below 50 percent in the polls, a seismic shift in opinion seems likely. Indeed, if you take away the 30 percent of Labour supporters who are only voting Labour to stop the Greens, and add that 30 percent to the centre-right, then ACT and National win the election.

When voters realise that Labour supporters are the least likely to turn out - and that Labour can only govern with the Greens - much of Labour's vote is going to shift back to National and ACT.

One would have thought with the teachers on strike, interest rates rising, commodity prices falling, and Labour having no re-election programme, that National's task would be easy. But I ask you a question. What are the three issues National is campaigning on? I genuinely do not know, and I am their coalition ally.

Never in my political career have campaign launches been more important, because both major parties are going to reveal that either they have a surprise package of policies, or one, or possibly both, are going to try and campaign without any policies.

Everyone knows what ACT is campaigning on.

- Zero Tolerance for Crime

- A tax cut for every worker

- One law for all.

ACT has clear, alternative policies on all the issues. On the economy, ACT supports the McLeod Tax Review recommendation to cut company tax below Australia, to stimulate investment, growth and jobs.

ACT has a practical solution to the problem of hospital waiting lists - use the private sector. If a patient has been waiting longer than the medically-acceptable time - like women waiting for radiotherapy - ACT says they should be treated in private hospitals at the taxpayers' expense.

ACT has a solution to the problem of falling education standards - it's called external exams.

ACT has long campaigned to end the Treaty grievance industry. Fair, full and final settlement of all legitimate Treaty claims should be achieved within a set time limit. ACT's Rodney Hide has a private member's bill to put a time limit on finalising all Treaty claims.

National, Labour, NZ First and the Greens all voted against fair, full and final settlement, and to continue with the endless Treaty settlement process. I welcome the change in National and NZ First this election. It is a sign of the effectiveness of ACT's MPs in Parliament.

ACT is alone in running a policy-based campaign. On our website - www.act.org.nz (http://www.act.org.nz/) - we set out our vision for a prosperous New Zealand. It is based on principles. We believe in personal responsibility. In our 57-page manifesto we set out our policies.

When you go to the National website, where is their policy? After three years in Opposition, where are the fresh, new ideas? I hope that on Sunday when National opens its campaign, we will see them.

Let me tell you how National can win this election.

The two big parties have neglected ordinary New Zealand families who work for a living. National and Labour have done nothing for the school teacher who earns $40,000 a year. A person on $40,000 can't get a community card, a state house rent reduction, or family support. They can't afford health insurance, or to move to a high-profile suburb to send their children to a good school. They are paying petrol tax and won't watch Maori TV.

ACT's policy is designed to appeal to the "hard working class". Our tax package gives that school teacher an extra $670 in the hand - more than Trevor Mallard's pay offer.

So far, National has done nothing for ordinary working New Zealanders. National has joined Labour in pandering to special interest groups. National's great appeal used to be that it was a party that governed for the country, while Labour governed for Labour.

My advise to National is to go back to being a party for all New Zealanders. Do not copy Helen Clark's photo-opportunity politics. Helen Clark is prepared to travel to Stewart Island for a photo opportunity but won't go down two flights of stairs to meet the PPTA and the Minister of Education, to solve the teachers' dispute.

National is not going to win elections with calendars of Bill English, but by Mr English putting forward alternative policies.

Bill English is every bit as intelligent as Helen Clark. His values are much closer to ordinary New Zealanders. He lives family values every day.

I predict that when Helen Clark and Jeanette Fitzsimons have to face Bill English and me in a television debate, the centre-right will show the electorate that it is National and ACT that can form a stable government - with practical, positive solutions for the real issues.

Clark knows that in a debate, her lack of vision and policy will be exposed. This is why, so far, she has refused any debates. She has said that under no circumstances will she debate on the real choice at this election - between Labour/Greens and National/ACT.

When you examine this Labour government, its record is not good. Labour did nothing to create the rural boom; student debt has doubled under Labour and no patient has been cured by being taken off a waiting list and referred back to their GP.

There is growing concern about the increasing use of policies based on race rather than need. The latest example is GP subsidies which are to be racially based.

So this election is wide open.

National has copied ACT's Treaty policy. I invite them to also copy Truth-in-Sentencing, Zero Tolerance for Crime, tax cuts for every worker and one law for all.

As voters realise that only if they vote Labour can the Greens get power - this election is wide open.


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