Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

New voice out to rival Act

Right-wing political party aims to be the 'economic conscience' of the nation.

Ken Rintoul head of the Focus NZ Party. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Ken Rintoul head of the Focus NZ Party. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The latest attempt at giving farmers a presence in Parliament and a potential rival to Act on the political right is getting close to attracting enough members to register for next year's election.

The Focus NZ party, headed by Kerikeri farmer and businessman Ken Rintoul, was formed last year around a group of farmers opposed to big rate increases proposed by the Far North District Council.

Initially called the Rural Party when it formed in August, Mr Rintoul said the name was changed in November to reflect the large proportion of urban businesspeople among the 180 members it had at that point.

Now the party has over 400 members, not far off the 500 required to register with the Electoral Commission.

The party plans to contest next year's election on a list-only basis.

Mr Rintoul said those coming to the party were from all different walks of life who want economic policies that "will help get the country back on its feet".

The policies released so far are something of a grab-bag from across the political spectrum, incorporating some of the philosophy and business-friendly approach of Act with a dose of NZ First's interventionist economic nationalism.

Former National Party MP Ross Meurant, the party's policy analyst who will not be standing next year, said Focus NZ aimed to be the "economic conscience" of the nation.

Like Act, Focus NZ wants to cut taxes, but not in all areas: it wants to introduce a new tax on international financial transactions.

Also unlike Act, it is opposed to asset sales.

However, there is more than a whiff of John Banks' party in Focus NZ's guiding principles which include "reinforce the principles of private property ownership" and "one rule of law for all New Zealanders".

Mr Rintoul says the common theme is that the policies "will get the people we hope to represent being able to compete on the international market".

The board of Focus NZ includes founders Mr Rintoul and co-founder Joe Carr, former Federated Farmers dairy chairman and primary industries commentator Lachlan McKenzie, and Mr Meurant.

Focus NZ


Guiding principles

• Empowering people to achieve sound economic and environmental outcomes.

• Supporting a sound policy platform for productive activity and exports.

• Increasing the level of understanding of primary industries, manufacturing and business, and their importance to New Zealand.

• Supporting effective and efficient provision of government services.

• Reinforce the principles of private property ownership.

• One rule of law for all New Zealanders.

- NZ Herald

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