ACT picks Banks for Epsom

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 15:40 28/05/2011

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Former Auckland mayor John Banks has been confirmed as the ACT Party candidate for Epsom in the November general election.

Banks said he was "quietly confident" he would win the Epsom seat.

"It's rather surreal. It's been a long journey and what an opportunity. Now I have to get out and about and convince the voters of Epsom I'm worth their support."

Former party leader Rodney Hide holds the seat but new leader Don Brash has publicly backed Banks to replace him.

Until this month Banks, 64, was a 38-year member of the National Party, including an 18-year stint as the party's MP for Whangarei. He put in his application to join the ACT party at the same time as putting in his nomination for the Epsom seat.

The seat has been crucial for ACT since 2005 and may be again in this year's election if the party remains unable to meet the 5 percent party vote threshold. In 2008 Hide won the seat with 56 percent of the vote.

Banks believed he was the only candidate to be interviewed by the ACT Party today for the seat.

His nomination ended speculation about whether Banks would make the step back into political life following his defeat in the Auckland Council mayoral election last year. 

Banks previously told Stuff he was putting his nomination forward because the country was in ''serious trouble'' and John Key needed a reliable partner in government.

ACT aimed for 10-12 MPs in Parliament.

Party president Chris Simmons refused to reveal if anyone other than Banks had put their name forward to be the party's candidate for Epsom.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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