Don Brash Writes No. 53: An Early Election?
NZ National Party
Don Brash Writes
An update from the National Party Leader
No. 53, 30 March 2005
An early election?
We are six months out from the latest date on which the next general election can be held, and the Beehive spin machine has the media bustling around examining the likelihood of an early election - perhaps in July.
Think of this as Helen Clark trying to open up some options.
Labour's run of good luck is drawing to a close, with rising inflation - the result in turn of a huge surge in public spending and a range of additional regulatory costs loaded onto the business sector - driving interest rates higher. The exchange rate is cutting deeply into the profitability of exporting, and that looks like getting worse as forward exchange contracts taken out at lower exchange rates roll off.
Indebted kiwis are increasingly at risk from the unbalanced growth we have seen, much of it based around the property sector.
Confidence about the economy jolted down sharply in a recent poll, and the Labour Party is well aware that the Reserve Bank will have little option but to lift interest rates in the face of strong inflation pressures and a Government that is abandoning any pretence of fiscal discipline, and which has no ability to set sensible spending priorities.
The rumours of an early election are exactly what they look like - panic in the Beehive.
Is National ready for an early election? You bet.
We have a strong and well-funded party organisation. Membership of the Party is stronger today than it has been for a number of years.
National candidates have now been selected in all 62 general electorates, and the quality of those candidates is outstanding. We have not selected candidates in the seven Maori electorates, and will not be doing so. We decided many months ago that there is no longer any justification for separate Maori electorates, and committed to abolishing those when we become government. Under these circumstances, it would have been hypocritical to stand candidates in those electorates. But you can be confident that the National Party Caucus after the next election will have a wide representation of highly qualified and experienced New Zealanders.
We have a strong suite of policies.
Over the last year, I have outlined our policies in a range of areas - on the Treaty of Waitangi, on law and order, on welfare reform, on roading, on the Resource Management Act, on the Department of Conservation, and on a number of other issues.
As the election nears, the pace of these announcements will pick up. In a few areas, we can not finalise our policies until after we see the shape of the Labour Government's Budget on 19 May, but we have certainly finished, or virtually finished, policy development in all main areas. And I have no doubt that those policies will be attractive to the electorate.
The electorate will have a very clear choice at the next election.
National promises 25 new DoC campgrounds
I announced last weekend that the next National Government will establish 25 new camping grounds on Department of Conservation land to ensure future generations of New Zealanders continue to enjoy the classic Kiwi camping holiday. Many campgrounds have been closed as private property owners cash-in on soaring property prices. We have no issue with campground owners legitimately exercising their property rights to sell or change the use of their land.
But I am determined that we protect this iconic part of Kiwi culture and lifestyle by ensuring the provision of camping grounds that will not be sold. DoC controls more than 8 million hectares of land - 300,000 of which has been obtained since Labour came into office - and 6,000 kilometres of coast but Labour has closed four DoC campgrounds and established no new ones.
National will require DoC to identify 25 sites for viable new campgrounds which can be opened in the next three years. It is not necessary for these campgrounds to be managed by DoC, which has enough on its plate. Our intention is to lease the sites to private operators, as currently occurs with 13 DoC campgrounds.
We will also be reviewing the regulatory requirements on privately owned campgrounds. We do not want camping regulated out of existence, as has occurred with the Kiwi bach or crib.
We want to ensure that all New Zealanders continue to have free and easy access to our magnificent rivers, lakes, foreshore and scenery.