Conservatives' 'one law' not for Baldock

By John Cousins

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Larry Baldock has withdrawn his nomination as a candidate for the Conservative Party
Larry Baldock has withdrawn his nomination as a candidate for the Conservative Party

Larry Baldock has withdrawn his nomination as Tauranga's candidate for the Conservative Party after falling out with the party's leadership over its "one law to rule us all" policy.

Surprise that party leader Colin Craig failed to name a candidate for Tauranga during his visit to the city this week led to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend seeking an explanation from Mr Baldock, who was widely expected to stand.

Mr Baldock revealed that he wrote to Mr Craig and the party's board on May 30 to say that if such policies were part of the Conservative Party's top election policies, he would withdraw his candidacy.

The "one law" policy created a conflict of conscience for him because he opposed getting rid of the Maori seats and removing references to the Treaty of Waitangi from legislation.

His disclosure followed Act's Guy McCallum quitting as the Dunedin North candidate, citing a "fundamental disagreement" with leader Dr Jamie Whyte over race relations. Dr Whyte sparked controversy in a speech last week in which he likened Maori to pre-revolutionary French aristocracy, and vowed to repeal "all race-based laws".

Mr Baldock said it was a challenging task to give effect to the country's 1840 founding document in the 21st century. "It is perhaps a dangerous minefield that any new and inexperienced political party would venture to campaign on."

Solving racial tension over the past 30 to 40 years had been a difficult journey requiring wise heads from all sides of the political spectrum, he said. "There are no simple answers or campaign slogans that offer real solutions."

Mr Baldock said the legal requirement to consult Maori had brought New Zealanders together more than it divided them. Doing what the Conservative Party was advocating would "stir the country up like crazy".

The irony of the "one law to rule us all" policy was that it would divide the country, he said.

Mr Baldock has not resigned his membership, is still a member of the national board and wants to play a part in the Conservative Party's post-election review process.

Mr Baldock, who championed opposition to anti-smacking legislation by organising the collection of one million signatures, has been a board member since the party was formed three years ago.

He stood as a candidate in Tauranga for the 2011 election and was No3 on the list.

"It was generally accepted that I would stand in Tauranga once again," he said.

Mr Craig responded that the choice of candidate was considered afresh each election: "Although Mr Baldock stood in the electorate in 2011 for the Conservative Party he was required to go through a selection process for the 2014 election.

"As a result of the process and subsequent discussions, it became clear that Mr Baldock was unable to fully support the policy platform of the party."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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