7 Nov 2011

ACT Party member confronts John Key

6:09 pm on 7 November 2011

The ACT Party's New Plymouth electorate chairman has been reprimanded by party officials after he confronted National's John Key during a visit there.

Morris Hey accused the National Party of not holding up its end of the bargain in the Auckland seat of Epsom.

A win in Epsom appears to be ACT's best chance of getting back into Parliament, but its candidate, John Banks, is trailing National's Paul Goldsmith in the polls.


In New Plymouth, ACT is not standing a candidate, to help National's Jonathan Young defeat Labour's Andrew Little and hold the marginal seat.

Mr Hey approached John Key while he was campaigning at a shopping mall and told him National should reciprocate, and withdraw Mr Goldsmith from Epsom.

John Key wouldn't get into a debate with Mr Hey, telling him to take the matter up with his own party.

Afterwards, Mr Key told reporters that Mr Hey appears to be misguided.

"What he was saying was that we've somehow agreed not to run a candidate - that's just not the case.

"We've run candidates, other than in the Maori seats, in every seat in the country for every election I can remember, and it's our intention to do so in the future."

He said his message is to voters in Epsom is that National is after the party vote, and what voters do with their electorate vote is up to them.

ACT Party leader Don Brash says Mr Hey's outburst was uncalled for and an over-reaction by a passionate party supporter who has misunderstood the situation.

Dr Brash says he's not worried that Mr Key hasn't yet endorsed ACT candidate John Banks in Epsom and says he wouldn't dream of asking that National not stand a candidate in the electorate.

Meanwhile, Mr Key has not ruled out a more direct appeal to the voters of Epsom to support John Banks in the electorate vote.

Radio New Zealand's political staff say that may come in the later stages of the campaign, after National has assessed whether making the call to endorse ACT would do National more harm than good.

Part of that equation would be the number of extra MPs John Banks would be likely bring to Parliament with him if he won Epsom.