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ACT Leads e-Politics Campaign

Tuesday 2 Jul 2002
Richard Prebble
Press Releases -- Governance & Constitution
(view HTML version at: http://www.act.org.nz/item.jsp?id=22778 )

Welcome to the first e-politics news conference. This news conference is being live-streamed on to ACT's website www.act.org.nz (http://www.act.org.nz/) It will be posted on our website this afternoon.

ACT is building our election campaign around the web. Each day in the campaign ACT is going to hold a press conference around this time - live streamed over the web - so that we can talk directly with the voters. So that ACT can campaign not on personalities, but on the issues and ACT's positive solutions.

ACT realises that television has become entertainment. This is not a criticism - it's a statement of fact. Labour's response is to produce a credit card manifesto. Seven soft, meaningless statements.

We in ACT believe that the thinking voter wants information to make an informed debate. I believe the Internet proves voters want information. Sunday, a week ago - ACT created another first. ACT released a detailed 57-page manifesto. Serious policy, described by Chen and Palmer as well researched. It did not make either TV channel - that's not a criticism - we did not expect it to.

ACT last week received another 250,000 hits on our website, half a million for the campaign so far. About half are from overseas. Most browsers went to our policy web pages. ACT is running a campaign that the media cannot see or filter or edit. A one-to-one dialogue with the voters.

I say one to one because 54,000 voters have given ACT direct feedback. Over 30 thousand voters have given ACT their e-mail address to communicate directly.

Last week another 2,600 voters supplied ACT with their e-mail address to receive information directly. My weekly `Letter from Wellington' is now sent to 25,000 people - that's half the circulation of the Evening Post.

ACT does very well in online polls. An example is the www.trademe.co.nz (http://www.trademe.co.nz/) poll, which has now attracted over 1,100 registered users. ACT has attracted eleven percent of the party vote in that poll.

None of the other parties are in e-politics. Let me demonstrate. Last Sunday Helen Clark and Bill English opened their campaigns with old-fashioned hall meetings - the media style. Did Helen Clark or Bill English have more at their meetings? Was 400 or 600 there?

ACT will live stream our opening on Sunday 11am at the Ellerslie Convention Centre. ACT will fill the centre - we always do. But the real story is that ACT will live stream the meeting - I will be talking to an audience of tens of thousands including the 184 thousand Kiwis who left since Labour came to power and who can vote electronically this election.

ACT's campaign to reach this second constituency is going well. 500% more voters have registered to vote electronically via our website than voted for ACT from overseas last election. We expect enrolments to increase as the campaign heats up.

ACT's decision to send Deputy Leader Ken Shirley to Britain has captured the imagination of Kiwis in London - enough for a whole electorate - NZ News has contacted ACT and asked if we would participate in another first - a party debate in London. Ken Shirley has said yes. The debate will be on July 10. The other parties are now scrambling to find an MP to send. ACT leads, the others follow.

I was wondering how to describe the power of e-politics and then I saw that Mr Peters has printed a paper "Labour's Debit Card". As far as I can see - Winston's primary concern is that the price of cigarettes may go up. As all governments, including his, have increased cigarette prices - I hardly thought that a risky prediction.

But it does enable me to demonstrate the future to Mr Peter's backward looking party.

Here is what e-politics can do - this is ACT's version on Labour's debit card - produced electronically:

Now here is ACT's well set-out 57 pages of policy: www.act.org.nz/manifesto (http://www.act.org.nz/manifesto)

Seven meaningless statements from Labour - really an insult.

Statements like toughening up on violent crime. Was that not what Norm Wither's referendum was about? Didn't Labour claim that they had done that? Labour is suddenly finding out violent crime is an issue.

Where are the real solutions? ACT has well-researched, practical, positive solutions like the New York approach to policing that targets first level offenders and works.

During this campaign ACT is going to introduce new electronic techniques. Some that we understand have never been used anywhere in the world.

When 5% of the voters have contacted a party directly, asked for information, given decent feedback, we are back to the sort of direct contact that candidates had in the days of town meetings.

Best of all, the internet is enabling ACT to fight an issue-based campaign, something New Zealand has not seen for twenty years.

ACT's polling shows that if we can campaign on the issues, we dramatically improve our vote. This is because voters like ACT's practical, alternative solutions to issues like violent crime, how we are going to grow the economy to be a first world country again, ACT's opposition to race-based Government spending, ACT's proposals to use the private sector to lower hospital waiting lists, ACT's opposition to the bureaucratic, politically correct NCEA, and ACT's support for lifting standards by having external exams.

The public is starting to notice that ACT's billboards are all issue-based. No ACT billboard contains blown-up photographs of our candidates. Instead, we have issue-based statements which also advertise our website, so that voters can go and see our well-researched alternative solutions. So far, we've put up three different issue statements:

· Zero Tolerance For Crime

· Lower Taxes than Australia

· A Tax Cut for Every Worker

Tomorrow, we will roll out our next billboard. Watch this space. We plan to have a new issue-based billboard each week. Tomorrow's billboard will first appear on major commercial billboard sites, and then will be rolled out in literally hundreds of smaller sites.

It's a new style of campaigning, and our focus groups state that the voters - regardless of who they normally support - say that they appreciate ACT's campaigning on issues and not personalities, and treating the voters like adults.

I believe that ACT is actually revolutionising election campaigning and just as the other parties have had to follow us in sending MPs to London to debate with Ken Shirley, they're going to discover that the internet means that credit card-type policies just won't cut it. The public want MPs who are going to lift the standard of debate, and offer practical, positive solutions. That's why ACT is going to do so well this election.


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