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National marks mid-point of first term

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 15 NZPA - The National Party celebrates the mid-point of its first term in office at its annual conference this weekend, riding high in the polls and leading Labour by more than 20 points.

The Government's policies will come under scrutiny but there seems to be little for delegates to be concerned about.

Even the emissions trading scheme, unpopular in the provincial branches, hasn't raised enough opposition from within the ranks to be a serious problem.

And since it came in at the beginning of the month there has been hardly any public reaction to it, despite the intense debate that preceded its implementation.

The two-day conference at Auckland's Sky City convention centre features Finance Minister Bill English first up on Saturday with a speech titled Building the Economy, which will update delegates on his economic recovery plans.

Immediately afterwards Mr English and four other ministers will take questions on the Government's economic growth agenda.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett presents her welfare reform programme on Saturday afternoon, and Education Minister Anne Tolley will talk about higher standards in education.

She is expected to again cover the controversial national standards for schools, which is under attack from teacher unions.

Prime Minister John Key's speech at noon on Sunday will be the high point of the conference, and it will be kept under wraps until he takes the stage.

He is expected to make policy announcements and outline his plans for the second half of the Government's first term.

Party president Peter Goodfellow will almost certainly be re-elected for another year, although there have been some reported mutterings of discontent from a small faction about his effectiveness.

With Mr Key's backing, he isn't likely to be in any danger of losing his job.

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