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No Date, No Snap Election & No Schnapps

Pleas for Prime Minister Helen Clark to put the country out of its misery and announce an election date went unanswered again today.

“I will make it when I’m ready,” she said.

New Zealand journalists arrived at today’s post-Cabinet press conference with only one question to ask – “when’s it going it be?” – to find that a room full of Greek media, their president Constantinos Stephanopoulos, and two translators had shifted the agenda to New Zealand/Greece relations.

After the prime minister had seen Mr Stephanopoulos to his car, and the large contingent of well-dressed and strikingly made-up Greek media had dissipated, Miss Clark allowed precisely six minutes for domestic matters on her return to the room.

Precious time elapsed as Miss Clark went over today’s Cabinet business before the journos could get things on-track.

“I’ve assiduously avoided speculating,” said the prime minister.

But Miss Clark did give some hints:
- She said she would not delay it until after the secondary teachers pay dispute was resolved.
- She said that as she was looking to lead the next government, she wouldn’t delay the election because the government’s legislative programme was not completed.
- She acknowledged the calls from business to announce a date.

Many, including ACT leader Richard Prebble in today’s Letter From Wellington, are speculating an announcement will be made following tomorrow’s Labour caucus meeting.

Miss Clark said caucus would be briefed before an announcement is made.

In a reference to Rob Muldoon’s infamous woozy snap election announcement in 1984, Miss Clark said she didn’t intend to get drunk tomorrow night and announce the date.

Asked about references to a snap election made by National and the distinction between a ‘snap election’ and an ‘early election’, Miss Clark said:

“Of the party that gave New Zealand the gin and schnapps election, I would have thought they knew the difference.”

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