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Party politicians target Grey Power membership

31 July 2005

Party politicians target Grey Power membership

“Probably more than any other single organisation in New Zealand, members of the Grey Power Federation have had the opportunity of listening in person to campaign speeches, panel discussions, and policy platforms by competing party candidates,” says Grey Power election strategist Peter Rutledge.

He says almost all campaign meetings are open to the public and draw a good response.

“There are some 76 affiliated Grey Power Associations up and down the country with an average membership of about 1200. Since unofficial campaigning started in early May, Grey Power membership has increased by almost 10,000 to an overall total of more than 90,000 members, putting a lie to the suggestion that older New Zealanders have no interest in politics,” Mr Rutledge says.

“Almost every Grey Power Association in the country has hosted at least one campaign speaker or panel of speakers this year; most have hosted campaign meetings for representatives of several, if not all parties, and some associations are on their second round of candidate talks. As often as not, it’s the party leaders who want to present themselves and their policies to the older generation.”

Last May, the Kapiti Association’s 4,500 members hosted Finance Minister Michael Cullen shortly after his budget speech. Next month, Kapiti will feature speeches by Greens Leader Rod Donald; United Future leader Peter Dunne, National leader Don Brash and NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Kapiti Association president Trevor Daniell says this is not new. “We did the same last election and also included Jim Anderton. We do this for local body elections as well. All our meetings have been filled, many with overflowing audiences.”

Mr Rutledge suggests one reason for the campaign popularity of Grey Power is the organsation’s stated policy of remaining neutral. “Obviously we all have a preference, or at least have thought about what we want from government. But Grey Power will not officially or even unofficially endorse any candidate or any party.

“What Grey Power has done, after canvassing its membership, is to list the five major issues concerning older people and to let the parties know what they are. Whether or not they choose to address those issues in their party policies is over to them.”

The issues listed by priority include the cost and regulation of energy, the rate of superannuation, hospital waiting lists, law and order and local government rate increases.

Grey Power is recognised as the leading support organisation for many of the three-quarters of a million retired New Zealanders.


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