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The Letter Monday 3 May 2004


The Letter Monday 3 May 2004

Time For A Change

ACT, as the party of fresh ideas, needs a fresh face. Don Brash has raised issues that ACT has solutions for. The only question is which of ACT's MPs should be the new leader?

The Primary

A primary is an opportunity to find out who has the ability to campaign. In the US Democratic primary all commentators said that Governor Dean was a certainty. Under the pressure of a primary he was found out. The primary that ACT is planning will replicate a general election. Candidates will speak in leaders’ debates at least six times throughout the country. Members will have the chance to not only hear the contenders but also to ask questions. The "Town Hall" meetings will be open to the media. There will be straw votes so that the candidates’ progress can be followed.

The Candidates

Ken Shirley: ACT’s deputy leader. ACT’s scientist. One of the "Rogernomics" ministers in the fourth Labour government and a founder of ACT. He has built a strong organisation in the Tamaki electorate and may have the best chance of winning a seat.

Muriel Newman: ACT’s whip. PhD. Former national sales manager for Michael Hill Jeweller. Founder member. Tireless advocate of real social welfare reform.

Rodney Hide: Perk-buster. ACT’s first chairman. Undoubted media skills. Finance spokesman. Where Rodney would take ACT is a question he must address in the primary.

Stephen Franks: Parliament’s best lawyer. A strong advocate for the rule of law and for "colour-blind" government. The challenge for Stephen, like Rodney, is to set out his vision.

How To Vote

As Richard Prebble said to NZ Herald's Audrey Young, "if you pay your $10 for a party membership too, you can have your vote to decide ACT's leadership". The easiest way to register is online at http://www.act.org.nz/join News on the primary is being posted at http://www.act.org.nz/leadership

Richard Prebble

Richard remains leader until caucus formally votes for the new leader. He has indicated he will discuss any future role with the leader but he does not expect to stay on. It is not easy to be an ex-leader in parliament. He is considering returning to law.

He will continue to be a staunch supporter for the ideals of the ACT party and believes it is vital that ACT remains in parliament to be an advocate of sound economics. "If I had known how nice everyone was to be I would have retired more often,” he said. "It has been an honour to lead the ACT party and I am particularly grateful to the warm and generous support I have always received from ACT voters."

Tariana

Governments that lose by-elections, lose general elections. It is a very significant defeat for Labour that one of its ministers is saying the foreshore legislation is so unprincipled that she must resign, and then Labour having to admit it cannot find a candidate to stand against her. Tariana believes the Prime Minister set out to humiliate her. Two ministerial cars left premier house last Tuesday, the first was empty and went one way and the second carried Tariana lying down on the back seat at Helen Clark's suggestion. There is one thing angrier than a woman scorned and that is an MP humiliated. Thought: If Tariana wants the foreshore back do we get our blanket back?

Interest Rates

The market expects that the US Fed will raise interest rates this week. Even if the Fed does not, interest rates are on their way up.

The Letter, we remind readers, was the first to predict the Kiwi’s fall, that the US recovery was not jobless, and US interest rates would increase this year despite it being an election year.

The Budget

The Sunday Star Times featured the economic blight of a single income family on $55,000. Rapidly escalating tax rates and targeted income support mean that a family in a state house can have an effective income higher than a family earning twice the wage but having to repay a mortgage and a student loan. Increasing targeted assistance will increase the unfairness of the tax/benefit system.

Auckland

A report by the Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland City Council shows Auckland to be 12th out of New Zealand's 14 regions in growth last year. The fall in immigration and the drop in language student numbers are starting to bite. The apartment market has already fallen and the housing market is only held up by the artificial shortage of land created by the same planners who gave us traffic gridlock. It is clear that Labour has no answers to the problems facing the Queen city. Copies of the report can be seen http://www.act.org.nz/auckland

The US Election

The US economic recovery is already affecting Senator Kerry's campaign. Recent polling indicates Bush is recovering. Republican-attack ads that point out that Kerry has the most liberal Senate voting record are starting to hit home. While events in Iraq have electoral significance, it is domestic issues that decide elections.

This Week's Poll

12% of letter readers had watched Maori TV in the previous week. We now live in two nations. The growing size of the Hikoi (The Letter picked it first) is a sign of the power of Maori media.

This week's poll: Who do you want to lead ACT? Nominations close on Wednesday. So far four MPs have announced they are running for leadership in the primary. We will publish the poll results on the ACT website next week. To vote http://www.act.org.nz/poll

ENDS

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