The final countdown
There are eight days to go in the final campaign of the twentieth century. The campaign has been as dull as the issues are important. Our two women leaders have refused to engage each other or the nation in a debate over our country's future. It has been left to the third parties to provide the vision and the choices.
Jim Anderton has campaigned with more vigour than in any of his previous elections. He is upfront in his policies. He wants to take New Zealand back thirty years. He wishes to be the uninvited business partner of every corporation, company, firm and farm in the country. The private sector, he tells us, needs his strategic help. The gap between rich and poor is too great and he says the way to close it is to make us all poor. So he wants to not only tax what we earn but what we own.
ACT has been just as clear in our vision. New Zealand must do better. We are losing 61,000 of our best young people every year. Every week we lose a firm to Australia. Socially we have one adult in three on social assistance. New Zealand has the highest proportion of fatherless families in the OECD. We have a higher crime level than the United States. We have never had more red tape and bureaucracy. The Treaty Settlements that were supposed to unite us are dividing the nation.
ACT says we need positive change. ACT has a vision of a prosperous New Zealand that is a successful trading nation in a global economy. ACT has new ideas on how we can practically resolve the challenges we face. Let's make our welfare system a hand up not just a hand out. Let's make our homes safer by not letting dangerous criminals out of jail after serving just a third of their sentence. Let's stop passing these 'feel good' laws that are drowning small business in red tape.
Let's recognise that restoring the profitability of farming by reducing government and local government compliance costs is the quickest way to boost export income. ACT says if we increase taxes above Australia we will die as an export nation. Just going to parity is not enough. New Zealand needs an export advantage. A low flat tax will encourage some of the 61,000 New Zealanders and the firms to come home again.
ACT's vision is based on core heartland New Zealand values.
The country does not want politicians telling us what to do, or where to invest. ACT says it's the private sector not the Government that creates jobs. It's hard work, thrift, honesty, enterprise and personal responsibility that create nations, not government red tape and bureaucracy.
We need a nation that rewards hard work rather than penalising. If we remove the stifling layers of red tape, New Zealand business and cities like Timaru, that are in the global economy, will take off like racing cars.
So the choice is dramatic: - the Alliances' socialism versus ACT's free enterprise.
If the third parties are providing the choice, the minor parties are providing the entertainment. New Zealand First is demonstrating, once again, that Mr Peters can not choose candidates. His party is in meltdown. He will lose Tauranga. Tu Wyllie's only claim to be re elected is he was loyal to a party that is itself not loyal - so I think the voters are going to sack them all.
New Zealand First voters do not like the two major parties or the Alliance's socialism. They do like what ACT is saying over making Treaty Settlements fair, full and final and our Truth in Sentencing. So ACT is the beneficiary of the meltdown of New Zealand First.
The other party providing entertainment is the Greens. The Greens have been taken over by the Unemployed Workers Union. Sue Bradford's rent-a-mob all joined the Greens and voted to make Sue Bradford fourth on the list and give her her first job. It's an interesting way to resolve unemployment, make them MPs.
When the Alliance tried it with Alamein Kopu, the results were not good but Sue Bradford MP will leave us with fond memories of Alamein. The eco terrorist Nandor Tanczos is on the Green list to make Sue look moderate.
And Helen Clark is openly telling the voters of Coromandel to vote for the Green Party! A Labour/Alliance government looks scary but a Labour/Alliance/Green government with Sue Bradford as Minister of Police and the eco terrorist as the Minister of Justice is absolutely petrifying.
So the campaign by the two major parties may be dull but what's at stake is not - it's the future of the country.
I do ask you to vote for ACT. Don't just look at our policies and values - look at our candidates. ACT has more South Island candidates high on our list than any other party. My Deputy, Ken Shirley was the MP for Tasman. Rodney Hide grew up not far from Timaru and was a lecturer at Lincoln. Owen Jennings is a South Islander. Gerry Eckhoff a farmer from Central Otago is at number nine.
And on present polling Heather Roy from here in Timaru is a certainty at number ten on ACT's list. I believe that Hilary Calvert, the well known Dunedin lawyer, at number fifteen, is also going to be an MP on 27 November. And if ACT continues to climb then Nigel Mattison our candidate for Ilam at number seventeen will be in Parliament. So that is ACT delivering seven MPs from the South to Parliament. And that is another reason to vote ACT in eight days time.