Let's Take Back The Election Agenda
Weekly Column by Dr Muriel Newman
The Labour Party has spearheaded the first ever 'phoney' election in New Zealand's 150 years of parliamentary history. It is phoney, not only because the campaign is being manipulated by a political agenda, but also because of the false war being orchestrated between Labour and the Greens.
At a time when seventeen year olds are shooting policemen when the lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk by health funding cuts, when teachers' strikes are disrupting our children's education, and when our standard of living is falling to third world status, we are being told that the only election issue is genetic engineering.
By calling a snap election without the mandate of a national crisis to politicise the country, Helen Clark has denied voters their right to set the election agenda. In our two other snap elections, in 1951 and 1984, the country had been crippled by widespread strikes and a massive financial crisis.
Voters were polarised - they either supported the actions of the Prime Minister or they didn't. In 1951, Sid Holland won a second term with over 50% of the vote, and in 1984, Rob Muldoon led National to a crushing defeat.
So far this 2002 election campaign has been hijacked by Labour and the Greens. First it was the debate over whether Labour could govern alone. Yet what voters were never told was that we haven't had a majority government in New Zealand for over 50 years, and that no country with an MMP voting system has ever had a majority government elected.
The call by Labour to vote for them to keep out the Greens was just political spin designed to increase their party vote so they would have maximum power in a Labour-Green coalition. The false war orchestrated by Labour and the Greens over GE has hijacked the election agenda.
Using a strategy that smells of collusion, they have grabbed the headlines night after night, keeping the real issues of concern to the New Zealand voter off the radar screen. There is now a real risk that unless a widespread public backlash is unleashed, we will all wake up the day after the election and realise that the issues of major importance to the future of our country, were not considered to be important enough to have been instrumental in determining a new government.
There is also a growing suspicion that GE is being thrust down our throats by Labour and the Greens to keep the spotlight off their real agendas, because if those agendas came under close scrutiny, there is a strong belief that many supporters would run a mile. For example, at a time when the government's own review of taxation - the McLeod Report - concluded that tax levels in New Zealand were too high to allow the economy to grow, and that lower taxes should be a priority, Labour has secret plans to introduce a plethora of new taxes: capital gains tax, a health tax, a doubling of the petrol tax, a carbon tax and a livestock "flatulence" tax, a fishing tax, a return of death duties and an extension of preferential tax rates for Maori.
The Greens secret agenda is to honour the earlier version of the Treaty of Waitangi, which presumably confers Maori ownership to all land in New Zealand. As a party that does not believe in private property rights, in punishment for crime, in one law for all, or in free trade, the damage to New Zealand's future that could be inflicted by a three-year term of a Labour-Green coalition, is immense and frightening.
With two weeks to go before the election, anything can happen. Remember how Labour was assured of winning the Australian federal election - and then the Tampa sailed onto the horizon and John Howard sailed back into power. Maybe sweetcorn will be to the New Zealand election what the Tampa was to the Aussies - a turning point. I believe that New Zealand deserves and needs a government with an absolute commitment to turn around our flagging fortunes and stop our slide into third world status.
To now have Puerto Rico ahead of us in the prosperity stakes with Uruguay about to overtake us, is an absolute indictment of the poor way New in which Zealand has been governed in the past. The ACT party has a plan to turn the situation around.
If you too want a prosperous future for New Zealand, help us to win back the election agenda from Labour and the Greens - and punish them at the polls for their manipulation. If you give your party vote to ACT on Saturday week, you will be making the economy a central election issue, as well as zero tolerance to crime, better pay for good teachers, and using the private sector to reduce hospital waiting lists ... the real issues of concern to New Zealanders. (Don't forget to persuade everyone else who feels as we do to vote ACT as well, including as many overseas voters as you know!)
Dr Muriel Newman, MP for ACT New Zealand, writes a weekly opinion piece on topical issues for a number of community newspapers. You are welcome to forward this column to anyone you think may be interested.
View the archive of columns at http://www.act.org.nz/action/murielnewman.html