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Right Talk 4 April 2003 - Positioning for 2005

Right Talk
From The Office Of Bill English
4 April 2003

Positioning for 2005

The next steps in positioning National for the 2005 election fall into place at our Constitutional Conference on 12 April. The proposed changes are the biggest since National was founded and are designed to create the best organisation for an MMP environment. Following the conference, a new Chief Executive will be appointed. Last week, I announced the appointment of former Dominion Editor, Richard Long, as my Chief of Staff, and that has been widely welcomed. National has confirmed its key policy areas - Growth, Welfare, Education and Treaty. A steady stream of major discussion documents in these areas will be released in the coming months. I will not be distracted from our main purpose.

Stop the PC Nonsense

We have a mission to put a stop to the cringing political correctness that is suffocating development. That's the message I took to hundreds of New Zealanders at public meetings in provincial cities this week. Here's an example of what Labour is up to. They are changing the law to force councils to recognise and provide for "ancestral landscapes" as "matters of national importance" when considering planning applications. The definition of "ancestral landscapes" is dangerously vague. It includes land owned by your ancestors (Maori only), places of cultural significance and their surrounding environment. It could also include rivers, lakes and seas. This piece of legislation could give Maori a disproportionate say over the development of large tracts of New Zealand. It deserves detailed discussion, but Labour has banned public submissions to the Select Committee about these changes. You get no say. The current law has caused problems; the new law will certainly make them worse. In a couple of years, National will repeal this.

Regrettable Damage to long-term interests

Arab newspapers ran Helen Clark's comment that the Iraq War would not have happened if Al Gore were US President as pro-Saddam propaganda this week. Her diplomatic gaffe led the US to ask for a please-explain from the New Zealand embassy in Washington and the administration has described her comments as "regrettable." Clark has yet to express any regret. What may be more worrying is the Australian reaction to New Zealand, which is why I sent my Foreign Affairs spokesman, Dr Wayne Mapp, to Canberra recently. He tells me there is growing anger across the Tasman about Clark undermining Australia's stance. She would have done better to take Canadian Prime Minister Chretien's advice that "we should not say anything that would give Saddam Hussein comfort at this time." No matter what her views, there was no need to alienate traditional friends and allies. New Zealand's long-term interests lie with countries like the US, Australia and the UK, not lining up against them.


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