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The Column: ACT Leadership Election Primary

The Column: ACT Leadership Election Primary

By Muriel Newman

ACT Leadership Election Primary

This weeks column is asking for your support.

I am writing to ask you to consider joining ACT so you can support me in my bid for the leadership of the Party.

Since you have an interest in politics you will be aware that ACT is in the process of selecting a new leader. I believe there are many reasons why that new leader should be a woman.

ACT has not been good at projecting its policies to women. At the last election only 4% of women voted for us. If women supported ACT at the same rate as men we would have gained 10% of the vote and 12 MPs.

Dr Miller, a political scientist from the University of Auckland, puts it this way: “The centre right will certainly need to project, through its policies, a sense of empathy and connectiveness with women to broaden their support before 2005.” He goes on to say that ACT’s main messengers have not presented a women or family-friendly image.

That image needs to change if the centre right is to become the government in 2005.

Last week the National Business Review published a very revealing study and commentary about the gender gap in New Zealand politics. They quoted research that showed what we have always known: that women are more likely to support a party with a women leader.

This is why ACT, and the centre right, needs a woman as its leader. With Don Brash as leader of the National Party, and me as leader of ACT, the centre right will attract support from both genders.

If I become leader, ACT will have a clear direction and everyone will understand what ACT stands for.

As the new leader of ACT, I will implement a 100-day strategy to relaunch the party and reinvigorate political debate.

ACT’s “World Tour” of New Zealand will start on day 20 of our 100-day campaign. This will be the first day of a nation wide tour of main centres and provincial towns, from Kaitaia to Invercargill. That tour will demonstrate to local communities that ACT has the policies to uplift the hopes and aspirations of all New Zealanders.

There will be a progressive programme of policy launches beginning on day 14 (Monday the 28th of June). The first release will be our welfare reform policies. ACT members all agree that welfare is the biggest problem facing New Zealand. It is an issue that, as you know, I am passionate about. Our policy release will show how ACT will support people off welfare and back into work.

Next up is tax and the economy. Labour is too taxing! We will make sure all New Zealanders know it, and know the benefits of our low flat tax policy.

We know that voters believe we have the best law and order policies, but we are going to tell them again. Our crime message resonates well with women voters – it will resonate even louder when a women says it. We will tell grandmothers, mothers and daughters that under ACT they will feel safer in their homes. They will know that because ACT will abolish parole and make sure “life” means life. Under Labour, parole is a “Get Out of Jail Free Card”. We will put a stop to that. And we are going to get tougher on gangs - why should society be forced to tolerate criminal organisations? As leader, I will front up and promise mothers and families that we will make their neighbourhoods safe.

After crime, our policy launch will move onto education. As a Doctor of Math Education, education is dear to my heart, and I fully understand the concerns parents have about class room numbers, school size, bullying on the playground, falling stands, intimidation of teachers and that funding should follow the child. As a mother I share these concerns. ACT will lift education so no child is left behind. We will release our education policy at a school on the North Shore. The school is proof that a school run according to ACT’s principles will make a quantum leap in education standards. It will show what can be achieved when good teachers are liberated from union control and when funding follows the child.

After education it’s health. For goodness sake, how is it possible that a health system that we were once proud of, could be allowed to deteriorate when the Government has six billion dollars in surpluses? We will show that selective private sector involvement in health care will remove waiting lists and deliver the healthcare that New Zealanders deserve. And we will also look closely at the policy of tax concessions for private health insurance costs.

Next up will be policing, defense, race relations, cutting red tape and compliance costs on small business, reforming family law, protecting property rights and improving the RMA.

These are just some of the ideas that will shape New Zealand’s future. ACT has the answer – we just have to make sure the rest of New Zealand knows it too!

Our campaign will culminate on day 100 with the release of a new ACT publication, ACT – The Way New Zealand Should Be. This book will become our living manifesto, just as you may recall Common Sense for a Change was in 1996. It will detail our positive vision for New Zealand. No other Party has this vision.

In my view ACT needs to convince others that these ideals are achievable, and that they can lift the hopes and aspirations of all New Zealanders. That’s why I am asking you to help me by joining ACT and to vote for me as the first women leader of the ACT party.

Thanks for considering this request and thanks for your ongoing support. PS If you want to check out my credentials for the job and support me sign up on line at or

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