Act launches campaign, after cup of tea

Don Brash
Don Brash
Act New Zealand finally launched its election campaign yesterday after it became clear last week why the party was waiting until the last minute.

The symbolic cup of tea Epsom candidate John Banks had with Prime Minister John Key was taken to read that Mr Key would not be unhappy if Epsom voters split their vote.

The same charade happened in 2008 when former leader Rodney Hide was desperate to have a cup of tea with Mr Key in Epsom.

For those who have forgotten, the current Act leader Don Brash avoided Mr Hide in 2005 when Mr Hide sought "approval" from National for its supporters to vote National on the party vote and Mr Hide in the electorate.

In something of a dance of the seven veils, Dr Brash kept disappearing in the main shopping precinct of the electorate as Mr Hide sought the cup of tea.

Supporters attending the campaign launch yesterday found a tea bag on their seats.

In his speech, Dr Brash said the Government needed to urgently focus its spending on those who most needed it, to flatten and reduce taxes in order to encourage investment and to radically reduce the bureaucracy which made life so miserable for homeowners, farmers, and manufacturers - indeed anybody wanting to do something.

"Realistically, Act is the only party which can help National do what John Key and the rest of Cabinet know needs to be done. And Friday's 'cup of tea' shows clearly that John Key knows that," he said.

Dr Brash set out an ambitious policy programme to implement if Act is returned to Parliament.

But with current polls showing Mr Banks lagging in Epsom behind National candidate Paul Goldsmith, and the party less than 2% in the polls, a lot hangs on Mr Banks gaining some momentum in the last two weeks of the campaign.

If Mr Banks did win, he is likely to only take Dr Brash into Parliament. Mr Key has made it clear he does not want Dr Brash, a former Reserve Bank governor, in a finance role in a new National-led government.

The main policy thrusts for Act include a faster reduction in government spending, a reduction in bureaucracy and a reduction in bureaucrats by taking the axe to ridiculous rules and regulations, cutting the emissions trading scheme and promoting a multi-party consensus on changes to New Zealand Superannuation.

If Act does return to Parliament, Dr Brash can expect some concessions from any National-led government, but not much.




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