Outspoken New Plymouth councillor is NZ First's choice for electorate

He's been hinting at it for weeks. Now New Plymouth district councillor Murray Chong is officially standing for NZ First ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

He's been hinting at it for weeks. Now New Plymouth district councillor Murray Chong is officially standing for NZ First in New Plymouth.

The worst kept secret in local politics is now confirmed.

Outspoken New Plymouth district councillor Murray Chong has been chosen to stand for New Zealand First in the New Plymouth electorate in September's general election.

Chong has been fronting pre-election meetings in New Plymouth during the past fortnight as the New Zealand First 'representative'. 

For weeks Chong had refused to confirm or deny if he would be the party's New Plymouth candidate even while he urged voters to tick the party vote for New Zealand First to ensure New Plymouth had two MP's in parliament.

He said the long awaited confirmation was "all about timing" by NZ First leader Winston Peters.

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Chong does not know where on the party's list he sits and said he would need to win the New Plymouth seat to be an MP.

"I'm only a new boy on the block," he said.

Chong said he did not believe campaigning would impact on his council duties, but if he were to win he would have to stand down as a councillor. 

"I would be more beneficial to the region as an MP rather than just a councillor, where I'm just a single vote.

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"I speak for the people and I'm not afraid to say it like I see it."

In a statement from NZ First on Monday it said Chong had "a strong history of community activism".

"New Plymouth citizens will be well aware of his significant record of service to the community," Peters said.

"His prominent position, dedication to service of his community and unequivocal advocacy will make his a strong voice in the New Plymouth campaign," Peters said.

The mortgage broker has been a controversial and polarising figure during his two terms on the New Plymouth District Council.

In 2015 Chong clashed with New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd over making fun of Chinese accents in social media after the district council mistakenly stamped thousands of rubbish bags with the phone number of a Thai restaurant.

Chong posted on his Facebook page the comment "When you ring the number you will get...'Hawoo, you have wung the wong number, this is not council wubblesh'...lol."

Judd suggested to Chong he apologise to the restaurant owner, who was upset with the comments.

Chong said it was part of his sense of humour but apologised.

More recently Chong has fallen foul of council when he asked on Facebook page if anyone was tired of "Natori and Labori" giving into "so called" Maori rights.

The council received six complaints from the public forcing mayor Neil Holdom to issue a statement saying the comments were not the views of the NPDC.

Several months before Holdom asked Chong to apologise after he posted a comment on his Facebook page about te reo Maori "being kept alive by a respirator".

Before being elected to council Chong questioned if well known economist Shamubeel Eaqub​ was a "full-blooded Kiwi".

Chong admitted at a pre- election meeting last week that he was a "closet greenie", collected rainwater, and had solar panels on the roof of his house, and sponsored Sea Shepherd.

He told a property investors meeting at another pre-election forum that the best way to regulate investors buying multiple homes was to require an increasing scale of deposits with every house bought.

The first house would require a 10 per cent deposit, the second 20 per cent, the third 40 per cent, and so forth, he said.

Chong told the meeting he considered it "greedy" when an investor owned "seven to eight" houses.

Chong has also been a ski patroller on Mt Taranaki, volunteer ambulance officer, award winning surf lifesaver, and Taranaki Coastguard member.

 - Stuff

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