Focus NZ Party

April 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Adam Bennett reports:

The latest attempt at giving farmers a presence in Parliament and a potential rival to Act on the political right is getting close to attracting enough members to register for next year’s election.

Looking at its policies, I’d say it is competing with NZ First.

The party, headed by Kerikeri farmer and businessman Ken Rintoul, was formed last year around a group of farmers opposed to big rate increases proposed by the Far North District Council.

Initially called the Rural Party when it formed in August, Mr Rintoul said the name was changed in November to reflect the large proportion of urban businesspeople among the 180 members it had at that point.

Now the party has over 400 members, not far off the 500 required to register with the Electoral Commission.

You need around 100,000 votes to get into Parliament. Getting 500 members is a very low threshold to register. Some parties end up with fewer votes than members.

Like Act, Focus NZ wants to cut taxes, but not in all areas: it wants to introduce a new tax on international financial transactions.

Also unlike Act, it is opposed to asset sales.

Oh God, they support an FTT. A cross between NZ First and Social Credit.

I predict they will fail to make even 1%. Here’s the history under MMP of new parties that don’t have an existing MP already in Parliament, with their best results:

  • 99 MPs 0.03%
  • ACT 7.14%
  • Advance NZ 0.05%
  • Animals First 0.17%
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis 1.66%
  • Asia Pacific United 0.02%
  • Bill & Ben 0.56%
  • Christian Heritage 2.38%
  • Christian Coalition 4.33%
  • Conservative 2.65%
  • Democrats for Social Credit 0.08%
  • Destiny 0.62%
  • Direct Democracy 0.03%
  • Ethnic Minority 0.12%
  • Family Party 0.35%
  • Family Rights 0.05%
  • Freedom 0.02%
  • Future NZ 1.12%
  • Green Society 0.11%
  • Kiwi Party 0.54%
  • Libertarianz 0.29%
  • Mana Maori 0.25%
  • Mauri Pacific 0.19%
  • McGillycuddy Serious 0.29%
  • Natural Law 0.15%
  • NMP 0.05%
  • NZ Conservative 0.07%
  • NZ Super & Youth 0.06%
  • One NZ 0.09%
  • Outdoor Recreation 1.28%
  • Pacific Party 0.37%
  • People’s Choice 0.02%
  • Progressive Greens 0.26%
  • RAM 0.02%
  • Republic of NZ Party 0.02%
  • South Island 0.14%
  • Te Tawharau 0.02%
  • Workers Party 0.04%

So of those 38 parties, only ACT have made it in. 31 parties have failed to make even 1% and six parties made 1%. Of those six, four were effectively Christian parties, plus ALCP and Outdoor Recreation.

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44 Responses to “Focus NZ Party”

  1. Nick K (1,258 comments) says:

    Waste of time, effort and money.

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    Here’s the history under MMP of new parties that don’t have an existing MP already in Parliament, with their best results

    Why are the Christian Coalition, the Kiwi Party, Mauri Pacific, and the Pacific Party on this list?

    [DPF: Frank Grover hardly counts for CC. I think Kiwi Party came after after they were out of Prlt? Mauri Pacific fair enough and for Pacific Party forgot that Field was not yet in jail at that point!]

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  3. hmmokrightitis (1,595 comments) says:

    Im intrigued DPF – why are you so anti a FTT?

    [DPF: They don’t work for one, and are ludicrously easy to avoid.]

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  4. ChardonnayGuy (1,217 comments) says:

    Except that none of the fundamentalist parties cited have particularly proven to be either stable or anything more than populist. As for the ALCP, it suffers from single-issue myopia. It tends to pick up the non-pragmatist hardcore pot decriminalisation vote, as opposed to the pragmatist blend :) which support the Greens. Or ACT, if they’re libertarians (although I wonder how Banks’ social conservatism on that front will affect matters).

    As for the fundies… CHP- Capill’s dominance led to its enfeeblement when it became obvious that he wouldn’t accept any transition of leadership, handicapping Ewen McQueen when it did occur. Capill’s pedophilia conviction destroyed the party due to his overexposure and identification with the brand. As well as that, it was hardline religious social conservative.

    Christian Coalition- a scotchtaped ‘beast with two backs’ created by an unholy strange-sect marriage between Christian Heritage and the Christian Democrats brokered by defunct fundamentalist lobby group the Strategic Leadership Network. Fell apart in 1997 after the CC failed to make it into Parliament. It was only ever a trojan horse to get religious social conservatives into Parliament and would’ve done so anyway. Apart from Winston, National had a lucky escape, given this instability.

    Future New Zealand- er, which version? The renamed Christian Democrat version? The original Peter Dunne brand? The consequent Kiwi Party (later absorbed by the Conservatives).

    Conservatives- New Zealand’s seventh fundamentalist party. Obsessed with BCIRs, politically opportunist and with only vestigial policies outside its core religious social conservative ones. Also fatally leadership-centred. Apart from Colin Craig, who else has a sufficiently high public profile? Also, note the relatively high CHP poll. Was 2011 a one-off and does familiarity breed contempt?

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  5. George Patton (350 comments) says:

    I see Ross Meurant is involved. Most reasonable people will run a mile!

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  6. graham (2,346 comments) says:

    hmmokrightitis – this interests me, also. Time and again, I’ve seen the idea of a financial transaction tax rubbished, but I’ve never quite worked out why.

    I think Hone Harawira or John Minto might have proposed a FTT at one stage. Now I normally think these two guys are just raving nutbars, but I still don’t see what’s so wrong with a FTT.

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  7. Nick K (1,258 comments) says:

    Yes, George. Definitely, if they know what’s good for them.

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  8. alex (304 comments) says:

    A Financial Transaction Tax seems like an entirely reasonable policy, and one that will potentially resonate with voters. My view is that DPF probably wants to shit on any party that might threaten the rural voter base of National. A party that picks up 2-3% of the party vote from predominantly National areas could do them serious damage in terms of being able to form the next government. Having said that though, if the Focus Party that picks up 5% they would become natural allies for National to go into coalition with.

    [DPF: On history they would be lucky to make 0.2%, let alone 2%]

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  9. peterwn (3,312 comments) says:

    Soe years back someone from Marton was interviewed on 9 to noon about the ‘heartland’ party he was forming which would have policies supporting rural towns and communities. Funny, but it does not appear on the above list.

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  10. Nick K (1,258 comments) says:

    A party that picks up 2-3% of the party vote from predominantly National areas could do them serious damage in terms of being able to form the next government.

    Do you have any idea at all what is involved in order to get 2-3% of the party vote for a new party? It is nigh impossible. First, you need at least 50 candidates to stand at meetings and campaign. Then you need at least 10-20 volunteers per electorate (x60 = 600 – 1000 volunteers). Then you need media time – new parties get NIL of that.

    And most of all you need at least $2-3million dollars.

    As I said at the very start, a waste of time, effort and money.

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  11. dime (10,134 comments) says:

    whats wrong with a new tax?

    ummm its a new tax?

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  12. Scott (1,821 comments) says:

    I can totally understand why farmers would want to leave national and form their own party. National is suffering from the same disease that infected Labour. Moving away from their roots, Labour left the working man behind years ago. Now National is leaving the farmers behind. Why? Because John Key is targeting the soft urban liberal voter that would otherwise vote Labour. That’s why he is championing gay marriage and other pet latte liberal causes. He wants those chardonnay socialists to vote for him. So he can have a 3rd term.

    But what has he done for farmers? Do you think the average farmer in Eketahuna knew he was voting for gay marriage when he voted National? National may be losing its rural socially conservative voters and quite frankly it deserves to.

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  13. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    alex, so if I, as an exporter, make a payment or receive money, I get taxed more?

    What a great way to promote export!

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  14. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    Scott (1,289) Says:
    April 2nd, 2013 at 11:02 am

    But what has he done for farmers? Do you think the average farmer in Eketahuna knew he was voting for gay marriage when he voted National? National may be losing its rural socially conservative voters and quite frankly it deserves to.

    Because farmers are like Scott who are fundamentalist Christians and spend their days hating on marriage being allowed for people who are probably miles away from their rural properties instead of attending to farming/dairy matters.

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  15. Nick K (1,258 comments) says:

    Why should a political party in government cater to one sector of society, Scott. Your question of “what has he done for farmers” is the single biggest problem with voters in this country: they all put their hand out and ask “what do I get from the government”.

    That’s a socialist attitude.

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  16. Reid (16,634 comments) says:

    Im intrigued DPF – why are you so anti a FTT?

    [DPF: They don’t work for one, and are ludicrously easy to avoid.]

    They would work, if the whole world did it. But only then. I’m a huge fan of it, if by FTT they mean a Tobin tax, because a Tobin tax takes away the profit margin from all the micro-trades which are done not for necessary trade purposes but for speculation, and why does money the commodity need to be speculated in? What the hell does that do for global enrichment for the common good? It’s not a productive activity, it doesn’t produce anything and it’s not necessary to support global commerce, which is the raison d’etre for the entire thing. That’s why I like it. Of course massive vested interests keeps a Tobin tax off the global agenda – Davos would never approve. They might pretend to seriously consider it, but they’d never approve it. For example.

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  17. James Stephenson (2,233 comments) says:

    but I still don’t see what’s so wrong with a FTT.

    Italy’s experience: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e593af72-8bf9-11e2-8fcf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2PFilA8Rq

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  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    [DPF: Frank Grover hardly counts for CC. I think Kiwi Party came after after they were out of Prlt? Mauri Pacific fair enough and for Pacific Party forgot that Field was not yet in jail at that point!]

    The Christian Coalition only contested the 1996 election. Number one ranked on its list was Graeme Lee, who was the member of Parliament for Matakana, in his fifth term as an MP.

    The Kiwi Party formed in 2007, and contested the 2008 election only. Second on its party list was Gordon Copeland, then a second term MP.

    And Frank Grover certainly doesn’t count as a Christian Coalition MP. He was a Christian Heritage MP, well after the Christian Coalition had disbanded.

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  19. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    I would’ve thought some displeasure with National from the productive rural sector would be cause for some concern? A couple of dairy farmers I know simply don’t trust the simpering Mr Key, who they (rightly or wrongly) believe would like nothing more than to see Fonterra sliced and diced and thrown up onto the NZX.

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  20. Reid (16,634 comments) says:

    Farmers like to have a voice in Wellington and they do that through their grassroots membership in the National party. Any new party needs to take that on, because it’s a large segment of those rural voters who care to be politically active who do that, and they would need a good reason to switch away from the current govt.

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  21. ChardonnayGuy (1,217 comments) says:

    The Kiwi Party was the final incarnation of the party formerly known as the Christian Democrats/Future New Zealand/the carpetbagger section of United Future/Future New Zealand II (aka Gordon Copeland- 2007-2008).

    Frank Grover was indeed a CHP MP, even if he was elected as an Alliance “Liberal Party” MP.

    As for the prospect of a rural social conservative party, I’m surprised that no-one’s mentioned the experience of the Country Party/National Party of Australia. Particularly its shenanigans in Queensland under the corrupt Dargaville expat Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen…and the Borbridge disaster of 1995-98…

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  22. Nick K (1,258 comments) says:

    …A couple of dairy farmers I know simply don’t trust the simpering Mr Key,

    A couple? Oh shit, he’s fuc**d then. Election is over. Two farmers won’t vote National. I’m on the next plane to Australia.

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  23. ChardonnayGuy (1,217 comments) says:

    And here we go for the Aussie Nats (formerly the Country Party of Australia) – for comparative purposes…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Party_of_Australia
    http://www.nationals.org.au

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  24. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    For anybody struggling to follow ChardonnayGuy’s summary of Christian politics in NZ. Somebody has created an explantory flow chart on Wikipedia – it’s a couple of years out of date – but still a work of art:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ChristianPoliticsNZ.png

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  25. ChardonnayGuy (1,217 comments) says:

    As for the rural protest vote, there’s always Social Credit to recall. Also, this predecessor:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_Party_(New_Zealand)

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  26. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    I don’t think a Tobin style financial transactions tax is necessarily a bad idea. In order to be effective it would need to be set at a low level and be almost universally applied. Obviously it would be lovely if nothing was ever taxed, but we live in the real world. Given that we are already taxing personal income, corporate profits, assets and consumption a tax on financial transactions (targetted towards the speculative as envisaged by Tobin) as part of the mix doesn’t sound like the end of the world.

    Labour and the Greens I think take the position of “We’d look at it, and if other countries are looking to put a system in place we’d be keen to be part of those conversations” that to me makes sense.

    Where I get concerned is when the likes of Mana claim FTT as a funding source for government policy. It would take years of multilateral negotiation to broker an effective FTT and it’s very unclear what the final scope and rate of the tax would be – to pin optimistic revenue forecasts on an FTT in the short medium term is just naivete at best and lying at worst….

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  27. ChardonnayGuy (1,217 comments) says:

    Speaking of Social Credit (1953-1985): Rebranded Democrats (1985- )- subsumed into Alliance:
    It had four MPs -Vernon Cracknell (1966-1969), Bruce Beetham (1978-1984), Gary Knapp (1980-1987) and Neil Morrison (1984-1987)…definitely a rurally based protest party in its heyday…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_Party_(New_Zealand)

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  28. GL (60 comments) says:

    [Graeme Edgeler: Why are the Christian Coalition, the Kiwi Party, Mauri Pacific, and the Pacific Party on this list]

    Good observation Graeme. Although, Christian Heritage should also not be on this list due to Frank Grover being a MP in the runup to the 1999 election (as you mention in a different comment).

    Another two parties which shouldn’t be on this list are Te Tawharau and Mana Maori. Te Tawharau because they never actually contested the party vote (not sure where DPF got that 0.02% figure from as the only election they competed in was 1999 and they got 0.11% of the electorate vote) and Mana Maori because they had an existing MP (Tuariki Delamere who was also part of the Te Tawharau party) at number 2 on their list. There are possibly more that shouldn’t be on the list that I have overlooked.

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  29. David Garrett (7,565 comments) says:

    Nick K: You’re a bit choleric this am Nick! And judging by the number of comments, day off today?

    Ross Meurant is this new party’s “policy analyst”…What does that mean exactly, I wonder?

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  30. GL (60 comments) says:

    Good post though DPF. It got me thinking – it appears that if you widen it to the “history under MMP of new parties that don’t have an existing or FORMER MP already in Parliament” then it appears (although someone please correct me if wrong) that no parties have managed to get over the 5% threshold/win an electorate without having a former or existing MP somewhere in their lineup.

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  31. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    I’m on the next plane to Australia.

    Well, with you own personal contribution to the dereliction & ruination of the ACT Party set in stone, perhaps that’s for the best?

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  32. Reid (16,634 comments) says:

    In order to be effective it would need to be set at a low level and be almost universally applied.

    It is. By definition it’s a micro-tax and is set at a level just enough to take the profit margin out of the auto-trades and they are a huge proportion of today’s trading volume and therefore also a major source of volatility. A tobin tax removes all that false heat from the markets.

    It has to be led from the top. It can’t happen otherwise, it cannot work if it’s a grassroots campaign where one country does it at a time, it can’t work that way. That’s why I mentioned Davos, and those guys aren’t going to do it, they are the ones who make the profits from this activity, you see. So let’s not hold our breath, but this doesn’t change the fact that it’s a good idea as you are saying Richard.

    Mana’s version is lefty idiocy, I don’t support that and never would. I mean can you picture Hone on with his half-rim glasses looking all intelligent and wise, silently calculating the pros and cons on effect of NZ unilaterally declaring this on the international markets? No, I can’t either. I’m having trouble imagining Wussell doing this with his pwinting idea as well. Trouble is, whenever I try to put myself into Wussell’s shoes so as to better understand him in this regard, I keep thinking about a particularly bad-tempered somewhat petulant party clown hired to entertain at a ten-year-old’s birthday, who keeps getting the tricks wrong and disappointing the children. It’s a mental blockage I can’t seem to overcome.

    Ross Meurant is this new party’s “policy analyst”…What does that mean exactly, I wonder?

    I think it means, they’re screwed.

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  33. James Stephenson (2,233 comments) says:

    On a tangent, whatever happened to the idea of the Libertarianz types being a bit less ideologically hardline and joining forces with former ACToids to form a new properly liberal economic party?

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  34. hmmokrightitis (1,595 comments) says:

    What Reid said re the Tobin tax. And I agree, but disagree with what you said in response to my question DPF – past attempts have failed becuase as Reid points out, isloated attempts will fail, because that makes them easy to avoid.

    The Tobin proposed tax is designed to remove speculation (sorry JK, your old game ends) which as noted adds nothing and detracts from productive effort – making it harder for exporters to have certainty. You remove part of the margin of computer generated trades that drive miniscule margin trades, and not only does the heat come out of that market – a purely speculative market – but certainty reigns.

    And we then see the kiwi $ stop being one of the highest traded currencies in a global market that adds no productive value.

    But it requires everyone to play the game. Hence why it will not happen. Pity really.

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  35. Sam Buchanan (501 comments) says:

    “On a tangent, whatever happened to the idea of the Libertarianz types being a bit less ideologically hardline and joining forces with former ACToids to form a new properly liberal economic party?”

    Possibly somebody noticed that the Libertarianz’s best result was equal to that of the McGillicuddy Serious Party and gave it up as a bad idea.

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  36. KevinH (1,236 comments) says:

    DPF is correct in his summation that a FTT is ridiculously easy to avoid, an article on the Economist website:
    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21572205-plans-transactions-tax-ought-be-dropped-bin-it
    Sets out the reasons why such a tax would be difficult to implement, in summary companies can move their financial h.q.’s offshore to tax havens thereby avoiding the tax completely. In order for a FTT to enjoy any measure of success would require a global initiative where all financial systems integrated, an unrealistic and almost impossible aspiration.

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  37. backster (2,185 comments) says:

    The might do better if the name change was ‘Focus New Zealand First’ party

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  38. Scott (1,821 comments) says:

    There certainly is room for a conservative party to the right of National. Lower taxes, smaller government and traditional social values. There is actually a really big slice of the electorate who would support that.

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  39. Scott (1,821 comments) says:

    Regarding my comment ‘what have they done for farmers anyway? ” I am certainly not advocating welfare. I was thinking of issues like our high taxation regime, eg the increase in GST under National. Also the high New Zealand dollar that burdens our exporters. So I was thinking of more market , not more government.

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  40. Reid (16,634 comments) says:

    Their flat tax at 20% is interesting. The leader just said on RNZ that no-one earning less than that would have to pay more than they do now and everyone else pays 20%. The increased compliance offsets the loss from the loss of those who currently pay more than that. He says.

    If the numbers work out, I’d vote for that.

    Maybe I was wrong about Ross…

    Personally I’d eliminate income tax and PAYE and whack up GST to say, 45%. That would be the best possible tax base because it’s hard to avoid and the same burden on everybody.

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  41. bringbackdemocracy (428 comments) says:

    This party has been around for over 6 months, and is still struggling to get 500 members in order to register as a political party. This is despite having been well publicised in the rural press. Outside of Northland it has little support and will struggle to get any traction over the next 18 months.

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  42. rg (214 comments) says:

    Focus Party seems very interventionist, nothing like ACT at all. Farmers tend to vote National regardless. National has abandoned them really of late yet still they vote for them. ACT is far more suited to the farmer vote than National and at the last election stood for scrapping the ETS, property rights, reducing compliance costs etc Yet they voted for National which is against scrapping the ETS, against property rights, and against reducing compliance. ACT pulled out all the stops for the farmer vote but farmers are two tick tories, if they didn’t support ACT they won’t support this lot. Wasted vote.

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  43. wat dabney (3,812 comments) says:

    A good piece explaining why a financial tax is not the money tree its proponents seem to imagine: not least the fact that it will reduce revenue in total.

    http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/Financial%20Transaction%20Tax_0.pdf

    And a real economist explains why all that “speculation” is serving a vital market function:

    Moving risk into portfolios and allocating risk across all the agents in the economy takes a lot of trading of financial instruments. Moreover, risk must be reallocated continuously (dynamically) as the economy evolves. So, the more efficient the diversification and allocation of risk, the more trading of financial instruments we will see in the economy.

    http://economics.com.au/?p=4639

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  44. David Garrett (7,565 comments) says:

    rg: I suspect I know you! You are quite right of course…Standing Don Nicholson down south was the big test, and he didn’t get within a bulls roar of winning…funny thing though, ACT came a very close second in King Country 10 or 15 years ago…What do you think has changed since then?

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