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Election predictions – Richard Prebble Speech

Wednesday 10th Nov 1999
Richard Prebble
Speech -- Other

This election is the most wide open in recent history. If you average the polls, the centre right and the left are neck and neck. Without doubt the final leaders' debate between Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark will be crucial.

Helen Clark, who won the leaders debate with the hapless Jim Bolger, has been boasting all year that she would win against Jenny.

No commentator has claimed that Clark has won any of the leaders' debates. In the two women's head-to-head on SKY on Monday, most commentators declared a narrow win to the Prime Minister. Voter support is so volatile that a clear win by one woman could decide the election.

So far, contrary to media commentators' predictions, it's been the third parties that have won the campaign.

In ACT's case, since the day Jenny Shipley announced her campaign, ACT support has risen in every single poll. ACT's support is rising right across New Zealand. Every poll now says that ACT is the third party.

To double a party's support in a month is phenomenal. ACT is an electoral phenomenon. No party in the history of New Zealand, formed out of Parliament, has ever won seats before in the first election that it contested - ACT now has eight seats including a constituency.

In every campaign - admittedly this is just our third - ACT has gone up during the campaign. In the last general election, in the last three months ACT tripled its support. And in the Taranaki-King Country by-election we went up from around 6% to 25% - on the night coming a close second to National.

ACT always does better on election day than our average public opinion poll support. In Taranaki King Country, TV 3's poll said on election eve that ACT was coming a poor third. But on by-election day ACT went within 1,000 votes of winning the safest electorate in New Zealand.

ACT supporters are the most likely voters to vote. New Zealand First and the Alliance voters are the least likely to vote.

On this basis, New Zealand First will not break the five per cent threshold and are relying on Mr Peters winning Tauranga where he is at 30%, and is relying on the anti Peters vote splitting. You must rank his chances as less than 50/50. Similarly, Tu Wyllie's chances in his electorate can be no better than 50/50.

ACT is rising in the election because ACT has connected with the voters. Voters do not want more of the same. Voters do not want to go back 30 years or to have Labour's ten new ministries or the Alliance's land tax.

ACT is offering new ideas - positive change. ACT has raised issues of concern that the other parties have avoided. The Treaty grievance industry and the need for fair, full and final settlements. The spiralling crime and the need for truth in sentencing. The explosion in 'feel good' laws and red tape and bureaucracy. And a welfare system that traps people into dependency.

National and Labour have been holding an auction over who can offer more money to a solo mother with seven or is it five children? Only ACT has had the courage to question the values of a welfare system that pays a solo mother more money than the average New Zealand working family receives.

Only ACT asks the question - if a solo mother was offered not just money but real assistance to get parenting advice, training and education - how many would end up with five or seven children trapped on a benefit telling us on political party ads that they want more money from working New Zealand?

Thinking New Zealanders know that ACT is correct when we say we need a welfare system that's a genuine safety net not a hammock and a way of life - a hand up not a hand out.

Because ACT is putting forward practical solutions to real problems, I believe ACT will elect 20 MPs into Parliament and ACT will make a positive change.

If I can conclude by making a couple of observations about the Wellington Central race.

On the latest polls I will win a narrow but decisive victory. As much as Labour and the Alliance may try to make it a party political race, it is not. Both I and my Labour list MP opponent will be re-elected. Who wins the electorate will have no effect on who is government - that's decided by the party list vote.

It is a simple choice over who is the most effective local representative for Wellington.

Labour has done too little, too late on local issues. I have consistently led on important local issues like the hospital, Town Belt, police on the beat, Transmission Gully and promoting Wellington.

One of the most crucial voting indicators is the right way/wrong way indicator. No MP has ever been defeated when 70 per cent of the voters say that in the electorate things are going the right way.

A majority of Labour and Alliance voters believe I have done a good job as an effective local MP. So while I think it will be exciting and close - I am confident of continuing to be absolutely, positively the MP representing Wellington.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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