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Plain English - Monday, 15 July 2002

PLAIN ENGLISH - A WEEKLY NEWSLETTER FROM BILL ENGLISH, NATIONAL PARTY LEADER

GE shambles

Further papers released by Labour show the shambles behind the GE moratorium. Labour and the Greens signed up to the moratorium, but didn't put in place the processes to enforce it. The moratorium stops applications going to ERMA for GE material coming into New Zealand but there is no other way of dealing with threatened contamination. Clark and Hobbs broke the law they passed. It was also revealed that other types of seeds such as canola and maize weren't tested at all for a long period.

A way ahead

I have proposed setting up a comprehensive testing regime, restoring the ERMA processes. This would ensure that the risks are assessed properly and the science debate gets the consideration it needs. Then we would lift the moratorium. It doesn't work and it has become the problem, not the solution. Our proposal means much better safeguards for GE in New Zealand.

Another positive proposal

Yesterday, I also put forward a five-point plan to resolve the teachers' dispute. We will make a better offer to get teachers back in the classroom, then move to introduce a more professional pay structure. We will delay NCEA for 6th formers (Year 12) for a year, and work on refocusing NCEA on achievement not assessment. Finally, we will move to self-management for schools as a tool for the teachers and the parents to make the decisions.

The next big issue

Education will be the next big issue because it affects hundreds of thousands of families. It has all Labour's hallmarks - short term political tactics that end up in a mess, just like GE. Our internal polling shows a history-making event - for the first time voters rate National ahead of Labour on education. My message to parents is that they should vote National for their kids because a vote for Labour is a vote for more of the same. Our secondary schools are crumbling and I am determined to do what it takes to fix it.

Polling

National's support is now picking up, as middle-ground voters realise Labour can't get there on their own. Clark's performance last week had a big negative impact on swinging voters. Labour has dropped 10 points in two weeks.

How it happens

Please tell your media that you want to hear about alternative policies. On Sunday, I put up my proposal for a way ahead on GE and on the teachers' strike. They were a bit too positive to get media coverage today, but I will stick to it.

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