Colin Craig to take on Murray McCully

ROBERT KIDD
Last updated 16:23 22/06/2014
Colin Craig
Fairfax NZ
TAKING A STAND: Conservative Party leader Colin Craig will contest the East Coast Bays seat at the election.

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Conservative Party leader Colin Craig will contest the East Coast Bays seat at the election, pitting him against Foreign Minister Murray McCully - unless a deal is done.

Today's announcement came at the party's campaign launch, which took place at Rangitoto College's auditorium in front of a crowd of about 200.

The decision comes as no surprise after recent rumours.

During the week Craig said he expected a deal with National to give him a free run at a seat in September's election, but that has not yet been confirmed by Prime Minister John Key.

Craig expected the Conservative Party, currently polling around 1.5 per cent and well below the threshold for seats in Parliament, would be thrown a lifeline: "I think National will stand aside somewhere."

In 2011, Craig was defeated by National backbencher Mark Mitchell in Rodney by more than 8000 votes.

Today he said that polling received this week showed his support was stronger in East Coast Bays, which played an important part in his decision.

In a pamphlet given to those in attendance today, the party said it was their role to "give the Government a backbone".

"We've seen a smarmy sort of arrogance start to creep through the ranks, as politicians from all aisles of the house ignore more and more of their supporters and abandon principle for self interest."

The party also listed four key issues it would push: all referendums to be binding, tougher penalties for criminals, no more separate Maori seats and a flat tax after the first $20,000 would be tax free.

Among the announcements were those of two hoping to be elected come September.

Experienced police officer and ex-North Shore City councillor Callum Blair will stand for Upper Harbour, while Mel Taylor - a CYF specialist caregiver for at-risk teenage boys - will run for the Northland seat as she did at the last election.

A decision on whether party chief executive Christine Rankin would be standing is expected to be made in the next few weeks due to her having pneumonia.

Rankin said the reception they had been getting around the country "belies our ranking in the polls".

"We have been portrayed as nutters and a lot worse than that," she said.

But she was confident the party's "courageous leader" was riding a wave of popularity nationwide.

Craig, who took the stage to "I won't back down" by Tom Petty, said he was unapologetic about the party's hard line on crime.

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"When it comes to law and order, we are the hard line. I'm not really interested in an excuse," he said.

"It's time people were accountable for what they've done."

Craig said he was confident the four key platforms on which the party was campaigning would resonate with all New Zealander and take it beyond the 5 per cent threshold required to enter parliament.

He estimated they needed another 40,000 votes - "not that bigger number".

- Stuff

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