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West Coast Guinea Pigs For Alliance Re-Branding

28 August 2001

West Coast Guinea Pigs For Alliance Re-Branding

United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, has told West Coasters protesting at Parliament this afternoon over the Reefton gold mine decision that they have been the victims of an Alliance re-branding exercise.

"Sandra Lee's decision has nothing to do with the environment, or what is in the best interests of the West Coast, but everything to do with what is in the best interests of the Alliance."

"At the mid-point of the coalition's life, the Alliance wants to show its supporters it is having some effect on the Labour Party."

"What better way to do this than to appear to upset the Labour Party in one of its most heartland and loyal electorates, such as the West Coast?" Mr Dunne asked.

Mr Dunne says that in this respect Sandra Lee's actions bear many similarities to New Zealand First's "kamikaze" stand on Wellington Airport in 1998.

"Like New Zealand First's actions, the Alliance's plan has been about showing the junior coalition partner is no doormat, and time will tell whether it proves more successful."

"However, the difference is that in this case, the Labour Party has felt less inclined to stand up to the Alliance, than did National to New Zealand First, because Labour feels that having been bought off by the $100 million development fund, West Coasters should now shut up and bear it."

"Damien O'Connor's behaviour notwithstanding, Labour has been cynically complicit in this Alliance re-branding strategy, knowing that West Coasters have nowhere else to go."

"After all, if the Alliance falls by the wayside, Labour will simply turn for support to the Greens whose attitude to the West Coast makes Sandra Lee look rampantly pro-development.

"Far from being the upholder of the West Coast's interests, Labour has been the conniving party in this whole exercise, trying to secure the Alliance's position on the one hand, while cunningly protecting its local MP on the other," Mr Dunne says.

Ends

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