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ACT Deputy Leader Chases Votes in UK

Monday 8 Jul 2002

ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today that he has contacted thousands of kiwis in Britain who are eligible to vote ahead of his visit to London this week.

Mr Shirley leaves for London tomorrow night and will spend the week in London campaigning. Mr Shirley is paying for the trip himself. During his time in London he will take part in a political debate with representatives of the Labour, Green and National Parties. In addition, he will be hosting an election function at the Intercontinental Hyde Park Hotel. Mr Shirley's also intending to catch up with Kiwis in more informal settings such as some of the bars which are known to be popular haunts for ex-pats.

Mr Shirley said he had sent emails out through ACT's contacts list advising of his visit and asked those contacted to pass the emails on to their contacts.

"Since the election of Labour, 174,000 New Zealanders have left the country. A paper produced by Treasury estimated that about 600,000 people born in New Zealand are now living overseas - with about 60,000 in Britain. Some 36,000 kiwis have left to live in the UK under this Government - so there's thousands of potential votes, and we want to grab them.

"In total we think there's over 200,000 Kiwis around the world eligible to vote - although last time just 11,400 chose to vote. We think it will be different this time though. Previously it has been physically difficult for ex-pats to vote. That has changed. It is now possible to get ballot papers electronically through the internet - and we've been encouraging overseas voters to do that through a link on our website, www.act.org.nz (http://www.act.org.nz/) In addition would-be voters now have no need to re-enroll and further, Labour has introduced a new law that says a party vote is valid even if you have moved constituencies.

"We think the new laws could result in a 10-fold increase in the overseas vote and believe that ACT can get a very good share of that. Last time we received 12.8 percent of the overseas vote.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of campaigning in London and spreading the ACT message. I believe that the overseas vote could be ACT's secret weapon in this campaign," Ken Shirley said.


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