Conservatives 'to keep campaign interesting'

The Conservative Party has sunk tens of thousands of dollars into facing its "loony" label head-on, and chief executive Christine Rankin says the perception is "far from reality".

The party held its annual conference at the weekend, in which leader Colin Craig announced binding referendums would be a "bottom line" for any coalition negotiations.

Ahead of the conference, Rankin said the party would be working hard to dispel the "crazy tag".

Most of the perceptions centred around the party's leader, Colin Craig, who had been caught out in interviews after refusing to deny the existence of chemtrails, or that the Moon landing was a fake.

Rankin said the perceptions could not be further from the truth.

"I work with Colin Craig every single day and it was a big decision for me to get involved in politics," she said.

"He's a really smart man, and they portray him as wacky. He's different, and I guess at school he would have been one of the nerds.

"That's how he got into trouble over the vapour trails - he always tells the truth and always answers the question, and I love that about him," she said.

"Of course he doesn't think that [vapour trails were dropping chemicals over the population], but he likes to research things and make up his own mind."

The party was now sinking big money into a newspaper campaign highlighting its policies "and other crazy ideas".

Those policies included a hardline stance on criminal sentences, a tax-free band of $20,000 and a smaller, less-reaching government.

The first of two nationwide leaflet drops was also carried out during the weekend.

Craig was reticent about the "crazy" claims. He said it was logical to platform off the rhetoric already being discussed.

"We always like to keep the campaign interesting, so that was one way of approaching it to say ‘people have got this idea of boxing us out in that space', which is an unreasonable idea, frankly," he said.

"But the bottom line is that it's something that we've looked at and said it's in the dialogue out there so let's platform off that.

"Our view is that New Zealanders, when they see our policies, won't be thinking ‘that's crazy', they'll be thinking ‘you know what, I think like that'."

The Dominion Post