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Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington 22/7/2002

Letter from Wellington

Monday 22nd July 2002

ACT's Rise

ACT's tracking polls at the weekend put the party at 10 percent - that's 13 MPs. ACT's focus groups say Richard Prebble "won" the third party leaders' debate. Last week ACT's website received a record 500,000 hits.


ACT's rise is due to its focus on the real issues, with practical solutions.

1. Rising crime. The answer is the New York approach of Zero Tolerance, which targets first-level offenders and has reduced all crime by 60 percent in New York.

2. The economy. Only ACT has policies to achieve 4 percent-plus growth - cut company tax below Australia, to 28 percent, a top personal tax rate of 28 percent and a lower rate of 18 percent, giving a tax cut to every worker. This will encourage investment, growth and jobs.

3. Compliance costs. ACT will re-write the ACC, RMA, ERA and OSH laws to make them more business-friendly - a bonfire of regulations.

4. Education. Only ACT has opposed the politically-correct NCEA, which is dumbing down schools. ACT says for world-class standards we need external exams. For quality education we must pay good teachers more.

5. Hospital waiting lists. ACT's solution is to refer patients to the private sector if they have been waiting too long.

6. The Treaty. Other parties are now copying ACT's policy of a timetable for claims. ACT wants one law for all - a colour-blind government. All of ACT's solutions are based around more personal responsibility.

Media Coverage

The media still haven't discovered how to cover an MMP election. They have spent the last two years telling us that Helen Clark will be re-elected with over 50 percent, but the polls say the third parties will again decide who is the government. So here is the Letter's analysis of the third parties.


* Policies - see .
* Costings - fully-costed using the McLeod report.
* Candidates - all but one of the top 15 candidates have run their own business. ACT has more business experience than any other party.


* Policies - extreme left (carbon taxes, resource use taxes, against free trade, soft on crime, no more prisons, will legalise cannabis).
* Costings - none.
* Candidates - described by David Lange as 'loonies'.

NZ First

* Policies - spend, spend spend, but no costings. Increase national super to 72.5 percent of average wage (estimated cost $520M); universal student allowance ($450M); free GP visits ($82M); no income testing for geriatric care ($200M). Free up the Reserve Bank Act - i.e. inflation.
* Candidates - The NZ First website lists only 24 names. There are no CVs, so we don't know how many Tuku Morgans there are. But 'Wonton' Peters now claims to be the highest-ranked Asian candidate!

United Future

* Policies - only bottom-line policy is to create another department, 'as big as Treasury', to write reports about the family. What is the family? Peter Dunne says it includes everyone.
* The party says it is 'secular Christian'!

Mr Dunne sent the 'worm' soaring when he said he wanted to help for-eign doctors get registered. But in May this year, he voted against ACT's Medical Practitioners Amendment Bill (to help foreign doctors get registered) and he also voted against ACT's bill to put a time limit on Waitangi claims, and ACT's Truth-in-Sentencing Bill - policies he now says he supports.


Gordon McLauchlan dedicated his column in the Weekend Herald to attacking Richard Prebble's performance on TVNZ's Sunday debate on law and order. McLauchlan calls Prebble "populist (which means unscrupulous opportunist)" and says he "chanted (his) usual slogans - Zero Tolerance, Do the crime, do the time ...". He also described Prebble's performance as "wooden".

McLauchlan then criticised the "professionalism" of the TVNZ team and Mike Hosking's performance as host.

The Letter calls Prebble's performance on Sunday a miracle. A check of his diary reveals he was on an aeroplane at the time of the Sunday debate. In fact, he has never appeared on any Sunday programme!

McLauchlan has clearly decided to review a programme without watching it - watching only gets in the way of his prejudices. His experience in the media has shown him you can tell any lie you like, as long as it's about ACT. The Herald runs a corrections column. How will they deal with the fact their book reviewer reviewed a TV programme he didn't watch?

Peanut Slabs

The demise of the Evening Post has seen two cost-saving measures - 1. The axing of 84 jobs, at a cost of $8.4 million 2. The scrapping of the traditional peanut slab for journalists who submit an item for the Diary. So the Letter is introducing our own peanut slab reward to our friends in the media who provide us with stories. And the first goes to a now-redundant Post journo!


What are three new policies that Helen Clark wants a mandate for? Forward the answers to Mike Williams urgently. What are three fresh policy ideas that Bill English is promoting? (Don't include "legislation to enable the Auckland motorways to be completed" - that was ACT MP Penny Webster's private bill.)

Maybe that's why both old parties' support is falling - no new policies.

Spot the Inconsistency

On 8 December 1998, Winston Peters voted against ACT's Treaty of Waitangi (Final Settlement of Claims) Bill. On 6 September 2000, Mr Peters voted against Richard Prebble's Truth in Sentencing Bill.

Not Mentioned in the Campaign

With the NZ dollar at 50c US, meat an wool farm incomes will drop by $400M and dairy incomes by $1.68B. If the dollar reaches 55c US, combined meat, wool and dairy incomes will fall by $3.18B. Using the standard multiplier effect on the economy of 4.5, this drop in export earnings will have a devastating outcome.

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