Alliance leader Jim Anderton is calling the Prime Minister 'chicken' for refusing to debate him on the West Coast.
'The National Party swaggers in Parliament and it swaggers to people on the
Coast, but it won't front up to a direct challenge,' he said.
Mr Anderton offered to debate the Prime Minister when the Government
claimed that the Opposition wouldn't debate on the West Coast,
but she has now written back declining the offer.
'I am more than happy to go to the Coast and talk about the opportunity
to create thousands of high-skill, high-value jobs in sustainable,
export-earning technology industries. I passionately believe
that is the future for the Coast, and if it is forced to rely
on the extraction of non-renewable resources it will be left
far too vulnerable,' Jim Anderton said.
He says the need for a debate to clear the air is all the more important because the National Party has begun a
'National's West Coast candidate has issued a press release which was actually
prepared for him by the taxpayer-funded research unit at Parliament.
Unfortunately for National's West Coast candidate, the research
unit got its facts badly wrong.
'It claimed that the Alliance economic development fund would put $1.8 million into the West Coast. That figure is
utterly fictitious. It has been plucked
out of thin air, and in fact could well be many times more than that, depending on the merit of the projects proposed.
'What we have said is that the Alliance will establish a $200 million nation-wide fund to provide development capital
for job-rich new enterprises. Projects will be funded in partnership with the private sector and local government. Since
we don't believe in central planning, no one can state exactly how much
any region will receive.
'But the Alliance economic development is about much more than providing urgently needed development cash. We are also
investing in training opportunities, marketing and managerial expertise, technical assistance and we will even consider
establishing development parks and enterprise
zones if they will help development on the Coast. The policy is about creating the development the Coast needs, instead
of abandoning the Coast to the mercies of the market as the National Party believes in,' Jim Anderton said.