Deputy PM opens campaign for MPs

Complacency was nowhere to be found as Bill English kicked off the official National Party campaign in the Hamilton city electorates.

Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe and Hamilton East MP David Bennett left the prime ministerial ace up their sleeve but played a powerful trump card.

A crowd of more than 200 party faithful wedged themselves into Cafe Agora's event centre in Frankton yesterday where English endorsed the efforts of Macindoe and Bennett to get new schools in the city and their commitment to the Waikato Expressway.

"They are advocates for Hamilton, persistent to the point of being irritating and the two topics I don't need to hear any more on are the expressway and the schools."

It was more than double the usual crowd at Macindoe's monthly coffee date at Cafe Agora and he told them the election would go down to the wire. While Labour was lagging in the polls and it gave the perception of a done deal, it was no time to be smug, he said.

"It is not. It is an MMP election.

"We have to outpoll Labour, the Greens, Hone Harawira, Laila Harre's outfit and probably Winston Peters," said Macindoe.

The Left bloc was a massive hurdle to climb for the Right and some recent opinion polls had National behind, he said.

"We are in the fight of our lives and we will be working as hard as we can to ensure that National is in the strongest position it can be."

The launch came in the same week Macindoe was referred to police by the Electoral Commission for an alleged breach of the Broadcasting Act by a radio advertisement which ran outside the official election period of August 20 to September 19.

Macindoe would not comment on the matter while it was being investigated by police and said it was time to turn his attention to the campaign. "I'm absolutely delighted, there's a huge turnout here today with a very enthusiastic reception for the minister and I think he really touched a chord with people about the challenges that we face and why we need to stay on the course we are on."

English said the Government strategy throughout the recession and recovery was "predictable and incremental", and Macindoe said it gave confidence to the public.

"People get frightened when they suddenly think there is a radical agenda being pursued.

"We have deliberately not followed a radical agenda, we have follow a responsible one."

The country was moving in the right direction but would need to stay the course and not be swayed by the promise of big spending, he said. "There is an opposition campaign out there to ratchet up government spending; and a lot of programmes, particularly the Waikato Expressway, are now under threat because of Green Party policy. This will cost jobs and be to the detriment of prosperity in our region and I think it is very important Hamilton people understand we are moving in the right direction and we are doing pretty well."

Waikato Times