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ACT To Promote Its Differences

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 28 NZPA - ACT leader Rodney Hide says he is going to get out and about more this year to sell his party's policies and explain why they are different to National's.

The need to differentiate ACT from National was a hot topic at the party's annual conference at the weekend, where concerns were raised about the minor party losing its way and risking losing its identity because of its support agreement with National.

ACT MP Sir Roger Douglas stirred debate with a speech on Friday night, when he said the party was in "real danger" because its successes in government were not being reflected in the opinion polls or ACT's membership.

Sir Roger said National was moving towards the political centre ground as it tried to "hoover up votes" and ACT risked being identified with it and stranded in the middle of the spectrum.

He urged the conference to focus on issues he said could be verified by fact.

"The state spends an enormous amount on health care, and yet many are not healthy," he said.

"The state showers the educational institutions with cash, and yet many are uneducated.

"The state hands out welfare wherever it sees poverty, and yet many lack genuine well being and security."

Sir Roger said that when ACT had "real momentum in terms of membership" and were considered to be different to other parties, it had its own slice of the political spectrum.

"Today, some in ACT have either lost sight of that original message or have allowed it to become so blurred that, for all intents and purposes, they consider us a faction of the National Party," he said.

"We have lost sight of what makes us different."

Sir Roger denied he was criticising Mr Hide's leadership, and Mr Hide said he had encouraged Sir Roger to emphasise the importance of differentiation.

Mr Hide said ACT was going to continue to support National on confidence votes, an agreement it made after the last election.

"We've worked hard for 12 months to get our policies through," he said.

"This year we're going to get out around the country more to explain ACT's achievements and what we really need to be doing to lift New Zealand's economic performance.

"That's certainly a clear distinction."

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