Key talks up "fantastic, amazing, smart" Prebble
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UPDATE / Feb 24: Prime Minister John Key has gone ga-ga over Mad Dog's return.
Asked by TV3's Firstline what he thought of Richard Prebble's return to ACT's frontline, as campaign director, the PM said:
"It will help a lot. When I came in, in 2002, Richard was in Parliament, and I used to go down to the house and spend all of the spare time watching the guys I thought were really, really good there – and he is fantastic; amazing institutional knowledge, very smart politician, knows what he’s doing."
He added that although National and ACT competed for votes on the right, ACT was a good partner and, "At the end of the day I think there’s a market out there for ACT, they are to the right of us of course, but they’ve got a good candidate in David Seymour and a good leader in Jamie Whyte. ACT has got a credible place in Parliament and Richard will help them."
But asked if he would endorse a party vote for ACT in Epsom, the PM suddenly acted a little less love-struck, saying: "Potentially, but it’s early days and who knows how those things will move around."
Meanwhile, Mr Prebble returned the PM's praise, saying Key is the most remarkable politician he has every seen.
Richard Prebble returns to ACT in 'key role'
Feb 23: Mad Dog is back.
Rogernomics-era Labour cabinet minister turned ACT leader Richard Prebble (66) is returning to politics as the party’s campaign director for the 2014 election.
Acting party president Barbara Astill announced Richard Prebble’s appointment as campaign director after a board meeting yesterday.
“The appointment of Richard Prebble as Campaign Director means ACT goes into the election with the country’s best election strategist,” Mrs Astill says.
“Richard Prebble is a campaigning legend. He was the architect of ACT’s greatest campaigning victories, including taking ACT from a virtual zero in the polls in 1996 to winning Wellington Central and taking seven MPs into parliament. Under Richard ACT increased its vote in every election. As a Labour MP Richard won the biggest general seat majority in parliament not once but twice.
Prebble plan for nine MPs
“Richard Prebble has presented the ACT Board with a campaign strategy to win not only the Epsom electorate but also nine MPs. The ACT Board has endorsed the Prebble campaign plan, which will be presented to the ACT Party Conference at the Villa Maria Estate, Mangere, this Saturday,” Mr Astill says.
With ACT consistently polling at zero, the former leader has his work cut out.
The party also faces competition on from the Conservative Party.
Today, Mr Prebble took a pedestrian jab at Conservative leader Colin Craig, saying "He doesn't even know if man walked on the moon."
Show me the money
“I have come out of political retirement because Parliament needs at least one party willing to ask the question, where is the money coming from for all these political promises?” says Mr Prebble (whose pitbull style in Parliament saw him nicknamed Mad Dog - sometimes with affection, sometimes not).
Backed Jamie Whyte
“ACT needed fresh leadership and new ideas. I urged Dr. Jamie Whyte to stand for the leadership. Jamie will take ACT back to the original principles of the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers which made ACT the effective third force in politics," Mr Prebble says.
“I have been reading Jamie Whyte’s articles in the Wall Street Journal for years. He has an extraordinary knowledge of the world economy that will make him a very valuable member of parliament that any party would love to have.
“I have known David Seymour since he was a top engineering student at Auckland University. As someone educated in Epsom, David will be a very good MP for the electorate.
“ACT now has both the policies and the people. It is my job as director to ensure the voters learn about Dr. Jamie Whyte and ACT’s positive, practical solutions. The support will follow.
"A vote for ACT ensures not only that John Key remains Prime Minister, but that a future National-ACT government remains on the course of good financial sense.”