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ACT Plays Down Attempt On Leadership

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide

Wellington, Dec 20 NZPA - The ACT Party is playing down a report that two of its MPs tried to roll leader Rodney Hide.

The New Zealand Herald yesterday carried the revelation that ACT founder Sir Roger Douglas, with deputy leader and Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy, led moves against Mr Hide during the controversy over the international travel costs of his partner, Louise Crome, and negative remarks he made about Prime Minister John Key -- both of which he has apologised for.

The MPs would not be in Parliament but for Mr Hide -- he holds the electorate seat of Epsom which exempts ACT from the 5 percent party vote threshold. The party got 3.65 percent.

Today Mr Hide, Ms Roy and Sir Roger all failed to return NZPA calls.

Party President Michael Crozier confirmed the leadership had come up for debate but said it was not an attempt to roll Mr Hide. The board had backed and continued to support Mr Hide: "We don't see any merit in considering a change.

"Like every party, from time to time these questions get asked and answered and we've moved on a long way since then. It wasn't over any issue, really, it was just a question of what's the best way of doing things. As far as the board was concerned there wasn't a question to answer really," he said.

"People talk to one another all the time and every conversation has undertones to it and it got to the point where the caucus felt they should spend a minute or two on it, and they spent their minute or two and decided they had better things to talk about. There was no proposal on the table or votes or any of that sort of stuff."

In contrast to his remarks, the Herald reported that the attempt was so serious that Prime Minister John Key stepped in and indicated National's deal with ACT would be cancelled if Mr Hide was dumped. It also said Mr Key had briefly considered a snap election to obtain an outright majority for National as the Maori Party was struggling at the time with the Hone Harawira controversy.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said there was no comment.

The ACT board was told the caucus had issues over the leadership, and a special caucus meeting was called for November 22, the Herald said.

Mr Key, who has previously ruled out having Sir Roger as a minister, reportedly told Mrs Roy that if Mr Hide were removed from the leadership, her own ministerial position would be in jeopardy.

The ACT caucus meeting was held but by then the will to push the issue had died down and no vote was taken.

Shortly after the caucus meeting, Mr Hide told Radio New Zealand he had asked the caucus to "review" his leadership and there had been a discussion about it.

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