Citizenship roadblock for candidates

AMBITIOUS: Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.
AMBITIOUS: Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

Five Conservative Party candidates may be barred from standing at the election because they are not New Zealand citizens.

The party is delaying the announcement of the four South African and one Pacific Island hopeful, until their citizenship is approved.

All five are permanent residents but must have sworn an oath of citizenship by August 27 - nomination day - to be eligible to contest September's general election. A sixth candidate, who is English, recently had an application to the Department of Internal Affairs approved.

The party hopes to stand a candidate in every electorate.

Chief executive Christine Rankin declined to name the nominees. She is hopeful the paperwork will be ready in time.

"If it's not, it's not. We've got a lot of candidates and these are really great people that we would love to have on board. We'll just have to wait and see how the process works out.

"I think they [DIA] are just going through their process and they've got to do it in a certain way, and we've tried to be as co-operative as we can about that."

Some of the candidates had lived in New Zealand for some time, and had not "got around" to applying for a passport, she said. "All of them very much want to do, and had planned to do. It's just something now has pushed them in that direction."

Rankin said she had not contacted officials directly, but her staff may have. "We absolutely understand the process and are accepting of that."

Bulk nominations by political parties must be with the Electoral Commission by August 25, and party lists by August 26.

Nominations for individual candidates need to be with returning officers by August 26.

A spokesman for DIA said citizenship applications were private. Officials gave recommendations to the minister, who made the final decision.

"Potential candidates should contact the department as soon as possible and be aware that citizenship applications must be sent to the department at least 10 working days before nominations are due with electorate returning officers or the Electoral Commission," he said.

"The department will consider urgently processing applications to meet timeframes."

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne stressed there would be no special treatment for political candidates.

The Dominion Post