Clark: At least ACT stands for something, unlike Nats

Last updated 09:32 17/03/2008

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Prime Minister Helen Clark praised ACT members' passion today, using it as a chance to attack National.

At the weekend the party held its annual conference, which was dominated and buoyed by the news that founder Sir Roger Douglas would stand as an electorate candidate for the party.

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide said the party was aiming to get 8 per cent of the party vote – despite barely registering in the polls at the moment.

Sir Roger, likely to get a high list ranking if he chooses, has been touted as Cabinet material should ACT hold the balance of power after this year's general election.

Miss Clark said it was unlikely that would happen.

"Secondly if it did happen it would be something of a trip down memory lane," she told Breakfast on TV One.

Labour has nothing to lose if ACT do make a comeback as it would impact on National's vote and Miss Clark used the attention the small party was getting to attack National.

"I think the way National's behaving they are leaving room for ACT because the National Party doesn't stand for anything, the National Party only stands for power and people in ACT at least have things they believe in and they believe in them quite passionately," she said.

"They're not my beliefs, in fact I am quite strongly opposed to them, but I do credit them with having a belief system and that I think is something National just puts aside as being desperate for power."

Sir Roger, a former Labour finance minister famous for his deregulation of New Zealand's economy, yesterday announced he would stand for ACT as an electorate candidate at this year's general election.

He said his decision to stand was motivated by the growing divide between New Zealand and Australia.

"It's time a lot of New Zealanders stopped sitting on the sideline.

"When New Zealand gets to a position where we are $100 a week in wages lower than Tasmania we ought to ask ourselves, what are we doing to ourselves?"

Miss Clark said the Employment Contracts Act in the 1990s had seen the wage gap open from 19 per cent to 28 per cent.

- NZPA

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