MPs won't budge

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2013
Colin Craig
PLAYMAKER: Conservatives leader and Albany businessman Colin Craig is being courted by National because of the party’s high polling.

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Sitting National MPs on the Shore are refusing to stand aside and ensure Conservatives leader Colin Craig has an easy path to Parliament.

National is courting the Conservatives as a potential new coalition partner because United Future and Act are struggling. The party has signalled it's open to a deal giving Mr Craig, an Albany resident, a winnable Auckland seat next year.

Mr Craig sees Upper Harbour, North Shore, East Coast Bays or Rodney as options but won't make decisions until the new year.

But Cabinet minister Paula Bennett is running in the new Upper Harbour electorate and sitting MPs Maggie Barry, Murray McCully and Mark Mitchell are reported to be seeking re-election, rather than be list candidates.

Mr Craig says the Conservatives aren't trying to do a deal with National.

Current polling would give it to four MPs in Parliament through the party vote but Mr Craig says it wouldn't turn down the chance for an electorate seat.

East Coast Bays seems his favourite option but he says he wouldn't run against Foreign Affairs Minister Mr McCully.

Mr Craig lives within the proposed new East Coast Bays boundaries and is keen to represent Shore voters.

He says the Bay's proliferation of bowling clubs, retirement homes and churches signal the electorate's

conservative nature.

East Coast Bays has elected a Social Credit MP in the past, signalling voters are open to alternative right leaning parties, he says.

Mr Craig says the new Upper Harbour seat remains an option for either himself or Christine Rankin, despite Ms Bennett's plans to stand.

Upper Harbour is the Conservatives strongest area of support and it got two candidates, Ms Rankin and Callum Blair, on to the local board, he says.

Mr Craig says the party won't moderate its controversial views, including opposing same sex marriage, if it goes into coalition with National.

Mr Craig doesn't think his reputation will be affected by looking at options of where to stand as he has close links to all the areas.

He says this is unlike Shore MP Maggie Barry who went shopping anywhere she could for a seat.

Ms Barry says fingerpointing isn't productive and with his Christian values he's "well advised to concentrate his efforts elsewhere".

Plenty of people move to an area to become an electorate MP and "there's nothing shameful in that", she says.

Ms Barry says Mr Craig seems determined to seek a public role after standing for the Auckland mayoralty. The Conservatives are a potential coalition partner for National because it's no secret its current partners are struggling, she says.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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