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ACT's The Letter 15 August 2005

ACT's The Letter 15 August 2005

The Haps

The election campaign has started. Brash has stumbled. The Greens go from extreme to preferred and National's hopes now ride on their tax policy.

First Debate

National strategists are in a panic. Clark, seemingly effortlessly, caused Brash to stumble. Brash appeared to be unprepared but in reality he is over prepared. How will he go when he goes head to head with Clark?

National and who?

Perhaps the most revealing moment was when Brash was asked who his party could form a coalition with and he could not answer. Clark in contrast was all over the Greens, Dunne, Anderton and even praised Peters.

TV3 the winner

No poll has indicated that the Progressive or United parties would not be back and may be in government. TV3's actions would have been illegal in Canada and flouted the requirements of the Broadcasting Act. But the station must be happy as the publicity resulted in a massive 400,000 audience.

No credibility

TV3's claim that the audience was undecided is misleading. The so- called undecided voter is not a thoughtful elector but rather someone who is not interested in politics and thinks Bolger is still PM. They tend to be "what's in it for me" and very rarely vote ACT.

Though Turia did not perform well, the worm fell before she spoke. You can drive the worm up by talking about family, women, children and how beautiful our country is. Any serious discussion drives the worm down. Most leaders drove the worm up but this could be because the audience had been drinking TV3s free liquor for an hour. Our readers' poll thought that Rodney Hide won the debate!

Extreme to preferred

Clark at this point last election campaigned against the Greens saying; "a coalition with the Greens is out of the question" Evening Post 18 June. "With the Greens…you run up against the fact that they don't like economic growth, trade or the superannuation fund and they attribute an importance to GE which is just out of proportion to its true importance" Clark NZ Herald, 19 June. What has changed? Clark can see what National cannot, that under MMP no one party can win power and she does not want to be forced to negotiate with just Peters.

Sold Out?

It is hard to see how campaigning with Clark helps the Greens. Are they saying that economic growth, trade and GE food are now OK? Professional Green politicians appear to now be willing to compromise for office. Why would that get them votes?

Wacky Greens

An obscure Green MP, Mike Ward may in five weeks be Minister of Transport. Ward, is proud he has never driven a car, and for that matter has often not had a job. He told the Local Authority Traffic Institute last week he had discovered the answer to traffic, on his trips from Wellington Airport to parliament. "Remove all traffic lights so motorists have to negotiate each intersection and the answer to the road toll is to plant trees in the middle of the road." At this point his audience's incredulity became uncontrolled laughter. "The trees should be in huge pots and moved around so motorists would not know from one day to the next where the trees will be."

All or Nothing

Everything is now riding on National's tax policy. The Letter does not agree with commentators that National has left it too late. In 1987, an election Labour won, the party released its manifesto after the election! By making tax the issue, Brash has got National up but it's a very high-risk strategy. If the tax cuts are not enough (three packets of chewing gum), it will not work.

If they appear unaffordable, Labour will campaign that every school, hospital and Police station will be closed. Our advice? Pinch ACT's flat tax policy. Pinching the ACT party's policies on the treaty, law and order, education and welfare have worked well for National so why not take the lot?

Election to lose?

As readers know we are sceptical about claims the world is running out of oil. It is more a refinery shortage in the US, and nowhere has any country run out of oil as happened in the 1970s oil shock. But oil at US$65 a barrel will have an economic impact and at US$75 it really bites. The law of supply and demand means at some point consumers of oil cut their use.

Even now there is a replacement effect. As filling up costs increase consumers are reducing their discretionary spending, with entertainment and holidays being the first to go. Tourism is the country's largest employer and is very vulnerable. After the longest boom in forty years people have forgotten how vulnerable the economy is to external shocks.

David Lange

Readers will have many memories of David. He was the man who took a cup of tea and as a result our welfare spending remains unreformed. For a debate in Oxford, (world famous in NZ), which saddled NZ with a problem with the USA. We prefer to remember him as the man who made the dismantling of NZ's centralised economy possible and we extend his family our sympathy.

Clash of Civilisations

Our quoting of an article in the Spectator magazine questioning whether suicide bombers can be dismissed as misinterpreting the Koran and the wisdom of multi-nationalism lead to us being referred to an article in the Australian by John Carroll "How the West was One". "We have entered an age when the main conflicts are…between civilisations." Go to

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