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The Letter


The Letter

A Change of Government

If Labour were to call an election today, the government would lose. Every government in the last 30 years has lost ground during the campaign. Last election Labour lost 10% support between the opening of the campaign and election day.


Tax is the issue

The party that sets the agenda usually wins. The government has lost control of the agenda with the chewing gum tax cuts in 3 years making tax the election issue. With a $7 billion surplus Cullen’s claim that tax cuts are not affordable is just not credible. Suddenly Labour is looking tired and seems to have run out of ideas.

Tax/Cuts

National’s billboards with a sour looking Clark saying “Iwi” and a prime ministerial looking Brash saying “Kiwi” are the best campaign ads for years.

ACT

The polls show that Labour’s mishandling of the Benson-Pope issue was one ministerial side step too many, yet ironically National is the beneficiary and ACT the loser. ACT strategists are not greatly concerned. Previous scandals where ACT has held Labour to account such as Speaker Hunt’s taxi bill, Tamihere’s secret golden handshake and Clark’s art forgeries initially helped National and not ACT. The party’s latest focus group polling shows that ACT’s strongest advantage is its ability to expose government waste. (The original question to Benson-Pope was exposing the waste of taxpayer money on a PC anti-bullying campaign.) Voters are concerned that a National government will not be strong enough to rein in waste, especially the rip off of taxpayer money in welfare. ACT’s polls also show voters are concerned that National will not hold Clark to account, nor implement real welfare reform or be tough enough on crime. This puts ACT on track for a 7% plus party vote. ACT’s cheeky billboard Helen/TAX, Don/CUT, Rodney/NOW highlights why ACT is vital. Go to www.act.org.nz/billboard.

Unstable

Under urgency parliament passed the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill that makes giving money to organisations that donors know engage in terrorism illegal. The bill also extended by 3 years the ban on organisations the UN has declared to be engaged in terrorism. The Greens, lead by Keith Locke, were the only party to vote no. Since September 11 they have refused to support every measure to combat terrorism. It is difficult to see how any party could form a coalition with the Greens. Intelligence is vital to fighting terrorism. No country will share intelligence with a NZ government that has Locke in its cabinet. He is so extreme he supported Pol Pot. Any Labour government would need to form a coalition that included Anderton, Dunne, the Greens and the Maori party!

Last week?

If Labour’s polls recover, this may be parliament’s last sitting week, which makes it a mid August election. Clark is not keen on another parliamentary session, as every week the House meets Labour loses ground. Over the next four weeks of recess there is bound to be another spending scandal so why expose Ministers to 3 weeks of parliamentary questioning?

Roaring Along

Labour’s best hope is the economy. While export manufacturing, only a small segment of the economy is suffering from the high dollar, the rest of the economy is growing strongly. Farm incomes are good. Wages are up. The Treasury and Reserve Bank predictions of a slow down are again wrong. Businesses tell The Letter that their forward orders are at record levels. The prospect of a change of government will increase business optimism.

Pardon

Labour’s announcement that the Kyoto treaty will not result in annual savings of $500 million but an annual cost of $500 million has had National MPs appearing in the media saying we told you so. It was National’s Simon Upton who negotiated the treaty. He refused deals, like Russia has to count their forests, and agreed to have methane gas included. Upton claimed signing the treaty would earn NZ credits. See his 1995 parliamentary answer www.act.org.nz/upton. ACT alone lead by one of parliament’s few scientists Ken Shirley, has accurately predicted from day one the government’s figures were wrong and opposed NZ joining the treaty.

Biased TV

If TV rigs the voting on Dancing with the Stars (as Tim Shadbolt says) and takes the money the public thinks it is giving to charity, (as Georgina Beyer says) then biased news would be just another day in the office. Thought: why is the voting on the show secret? How can state TV say 55% of the 99-cent text goes to charity when the industry says it is 28- cents?

Merger or Takeover?

Peter Dunne has swallowed more political parties than a black hole has swallowed stars. His latest merger was with the Outdoor Recreation party that got one percent last election. On the latest polls that is United’s total support. If it was a merger we would expect the Outdoor party to get half the list placing. Don’t hold your breath.

Interest free loan trap

Parliamentary questions reveal under Labour average student debt has risen from $11,885 (Dec 1999) to $14,941 (May 2005). A 25% increase. Student borrowers from 270,000 to 461,000. Total debt from $3 billion to over $7b - equal to the surplus.

Our poll

Last week we asked whether Ken Shirley’s bill lifting the ban on nuclear powered ships should go to a select committee. 90% said yes and an independent poll shows two thirds of the electorate agrees. This week, a competition. Design a billboard for ACT to use in its upcoming election campaign in the style of Tax/Cut/Now and Spin/Talk/Action. Your reward will be to see your work hanging over the motorway. See www.act.org.nz/billboard.

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