A prominent Southland ACT Party backer has called its Epsom electorate candidate John Banks a "twerp" over his comments on cannabis law relaxation.
Invercargill resident Louis Crimp, who donated $100,000 to the party earlier this year, slated Mr Banks after being asked his opinion on decriminalising the drug.
Party leader Don Brash's comments on loosening cannabis laws appeared to have created a rift in ACT.
In a speech at the weekend, Dr Brash suggested that the $100 million spent by police fighting the drug was a pointless waste of money which stopped them pursuing other offenders.
ACT's Clutha-Southland candidate Don Nicolson, who is ranked fourth on the party list, welcomed the issue being raised, but Mr Banks – who is the party's lifeline to Parliament on current polling – rejected the suggestion completely.
"I don't agree with that twerp John Banks," Mr Crimp said. "He doesn't believe in anything, he just wants the position.
"Brash is the man who says what he is really thinking."
Mr Crimp said he was in favour of decriminalisation
"I'm an ACT supporter mainly to stop Government wasting money," he said. "If people want to get lung cancer or whatever you get through smoking marijuana it's their own blooming lookout, and it's no business of do-gooders to tell them that (they can't)."
Mr Nicolson said ACT was a party of free-thinkers and everyone in it was allowed to express their opinion.
ACT's election campaign was built around the economy and cutting bureaucratic waste, and the $100 million spent on fighting cannabis was not well spent, he said.
With Government expenditure having risen by $60 billion since 1999, ACT wanted to look at every area of spending, he said.
"$100 million is not small change, and with all the bureaucratic inflation it was right for him to question spending which is obviously not working."
There was now a clear understanding between Dr Brash and Mr Banks, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.