4 Jun 2019

'A culture change is going on in this organisation’ - new TOP leader

From Checkpoint, 6:15 pm on 4 June 2019

The leader of The Opportunities Party (TOP) says he's already in talks with "all major political parties" about possible electorate deals that could see the party win a seat.

The claims come hot on the heels of name calling and a public falling out between the new leader, Geoff Simmons and the party founder Gareth Morgan - who has cut all ties, including financial support, to the party.

Mr Morgan founded the party in a bid to use research to change political policy to boost economic productivity. It has around 4200 members, and 30,000 followers on social media.

He spent more than $2 million on funding, but the party won just 2.4 percent of the vote at the 2017 election. 

He resigned in March, and has since characterised some members who remained at the top as 'grovelling, compromising political aspirants who lack talent... and disloyal reprobate".

"Gareth ultimately can't understand why people would volunteer their time, donate, would get behind a movement," Mr Simmons told Checkpoint. "It is a bit of an anathema to him, he's used to having to pay people to do the work... I just don't think he can get his head around that, that if you empower people, they'll do amazing things."

Since Mr Morgans' department, 'a culture change' was going on in the organisation of the party.

"We are moving from the old model about being all about Gareth, to being a proper movement and developing a set of shared values. It is a process of transition and transformation and some people aren't going to like that and they will speak out... that's what politics should look like. It should be about debate and a contest of ideas."

He said it was the party's goal this year to get back the support it had in the 2017 election and be in a position to win a seat, even a potential help of one of the main parties. 

He said the party still offered an alternative to Labour and National. 

RNZ's Indepth team revealed allegations the party was insolvent, claims Mr Simmons called 'financially illiterate".

He said the party was half way to funding its next general election campaign, but would not reveal figures.