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Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington 15/7/2002

Letter from Wellington

Monday, 15 July 2002

Election Wide Open

ACT's daily tracking polls saw Labour crash to 38% last Thursday and National jump to 31%. TV1's poll has ACT at 8% - 10 ACT MPs.

Labour's Strategy has Failed

Labour's election strategy was to scare centre/right voters to support Labour to stop the Greens. This strategy only works when Labour is polling above 50%. Now it has become clear Labour won't be able to govern alone, centre/right voters are abandoning Labour. The more Labour pushes its "stability" message, the more voters are reminded that Labour is dependent on the "extreme" Greens and the "repugnant" NZ First.

ACT is Winning on Issues

ACT's decision to campaign on the real issues - health, law and order, the economy, one law for all, and education - is proving a winning formula. ACT has managed to stay out of all the personal abuse, and out of the bogus GE debate.

NCEA - an Experiment on our Kids

ACT today is releasing its education policy. ACT alone has opposed the replacement of external exams with the NCEA. (The NCEA was a National policy, implemented by Labour.) The new system is proving a bureaucratic nightmare for teachers, and the lack of marks is confusing and disillusioning pupils. ACT's education policy is on the web at

Ten reasons to Scrap the NCEA

The Letter agrees with Parents Against the NCEA which outlines 10 reasons the NCEA should go.
1. It is untested anywhere in the world - our kids are guinea pigs.
2. It has no international standing.
3. It overloads teachers - leaves little time for teaching.
4. It is grossly under-resourced.
5. It 'dumbs down' learning and de-motivates kids.
6. It attempts to compartmentalise knowledge into little bits - based on a model for vocational subjects.
7. It can't be marked consistently by different schools.
8. It doesn't tell kids how well or badly they are doing.
9. It is meaningless to employers.
10. It risks destroying our education export industry - foreign students won't want a worthless qualification.


When the government put Marian Hobbs on TV and we realised she was in charge of bio-security, public confidence collapsed. When the GE corn incident occurred 20 months ago, what was Ms Hobbs doing? She was preoccupied explaining to the Auditor-General why she had been claiming for a house in Christchurch when she lived in Wellington.

Labour Strategists Worried

Labour strategists are worried. Helen Clark has been making mistakes. It was Clark's decision to call a snap election, then to campaign negatively on one issue - stability. It was the PM who called in her lawyers to threaten the media over Paintergate. Clark lost her cool on two TV interviews - the ABC and John Campbell. (For three years she has had no practice at tough interviews.)

It was Clark again who decided that Nicky Hager's book was a Green Party plot. (It appears Jeanette Fitzsimons genuinely did not know about the book - indeed, Jeanette's failure to ask questions two years ago does not reflect well on her.)

Labour will not survive another week like last one - that's the problem with being a one woman government.

ACT Leads, the Others Follow

If you could copyright political ideas, ACT would have a good case against National and NZ First. Both parties voted against ACT's Waitangi Bill to set a timetable for claims. Now, National is even using ACT's calendar - 2008 for final settlement. Both parties are also now claiming to be tough on crime, despite National's policy being to continue with early release of violent criminals.

National now has a TV ad saying it will cut company tax to 28%. Hang on. National's policy is to have personal tax of 35% and company tax of 30%. A 28% company and top personal tax is ACT's policy (based on the McLeod Report).

Paintergate - the Lawyers' Story

State TV is angry with Labour. On Sunday last week they got the police file on Paintergate - which is damning. Then they got a strong letter from the PM's lawyer, Hugh Rennie. They called their own lawyer: "I cannot give advice, I advised the PM," was his reply. On Sunday TVNZ could not get independent legal advice, so killed the story. Other media decided the legal threats were bluff and published, making TVNZ look silly.

Eight Leaders Debate?

TV1's decision to invite MPs who won't be re-elected (Laila Harre), or won't have a party (Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne), has made a mockery of tonight's Holmes debate. In 90 minutes, with ads, questions and introductions, each real leader will get six minutes.

To keep viewers' interest, TV1 is using the worm, with "undecided" voters rating the politicians' answers. Most "undecided" voters are ex-Alliance and hate ACT, so Richard Prebble is at a bit of a disadvantage!


ACT has been pleasantly surprised at the donations the party is receiving over its secure web page - contributions have ranged from $20 to $5,000.

There were 380,000 hits on ACT's website last week - about half from overseas. The website has a link to ACT's daily media conferences, and archives of previous media conferences, the campaign launch and the party's opening TV broadcast.

Hidden Talent

At 8% ACT gets 10 MPs. Number 10 is Kenneth Wang - he owns his own advertising agency, and examples of his work can be seen in ACT's billboard campaign.

On present polling the following Labour list candidates would be elected: Dave Hereora, Lynne Pillay, Carol Beaumont. Labour's website says their biographies will be posted shortly. Labour wants us to just elect them and find out later they are all militant trade unionists.

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