Craig gives $550k to Conservatives

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 14:20 28/03/2014
Colin Craig
Fairfax NZ
COLIN CRAIG: Conservatives leader.

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Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has donated more than half a million dollars towards his party's war chest this week alone, party returns show.

According to the Electoral Commission website, Craig donated $550,000 to his party on Tuesday - that's on top of a $36,000 donation made by him on February 28.

The wealthy property developer had also made four donations to the party between October and January, ranging between $10,000 and $50,000.

In October he gave the party $50,000, in November $10,000 and in December a further $20,000.

Craig added another $45,000 to the tally in January, which was used to cover the cost of a billboard campaign.

Other donations were added to cover the cost of new staff.

It was widely reported Craig funded the party's 2011 election campaign himself.

In 2012, the Conservatives topped the donations list with $1,623,504.06. Of that $1,618,600 came from the outspoken millionaire businessman.

He has said in the past that donations for his party were going well, and he expected to be able to pull back from the million-dollar-plus amounts he's sunk into the Conservatives.

But Craig said he would still expect to be the major financial backer.

Craig said it would not be the last donation he would make before the election.

"It's really just to cover party expenses and all the political goings-on for the party. It won't be the only one I give for the year, as I've said we're committing to a million-dollar campaign this year.

"There'll be more to come, but I've always made it clear that I'm totally committed to it and that means I'll resource it as much as I have to, although fortunately for me, we're expecting to get significant donations from others as well going into the campaign."

He said behind-the-scenes work was in full-swing, and the campaign was beginning to take shape.

"We're working on a lot of the campaign stuff already - we're not producing our material and putting it in the letterboxes yet. But you could say we're in the preliminary stages for things like polling and working out messaging."

The party's internal polls also looked promising.

"We're very comfortable that where we are now is an excellent platform. We know we're sitting on around four per cent."

But Conservative supporters were more likely to vote, and Craig said he would not be surprised if that translated into twice as many votes on polling day.

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