New party attracts ex MPs

By Sandy Myhre

Former MPs Ross Meurant and Sandra Goudie came North to support the fledgling NZ Rural Party, although both made it clear they did not intend to stand again for Parliament.

They were joined by around 50 others at the party's inaugural public meeting in Okaihau on Saturday and were elected to the board with Steve McNally, Joe Carr, John Vujcich and Christie Rintoul, all from the Far North, along with Lachlan McKenzie from Rotorua and Marina Koltsova from Auckland.

Les King, from Hokianga, was elected chairman of the northern electorate.

The new board's first decision was to change the name of the party to Focus New Zealand.

Party co-founder Ken Rintoul was elected president and said the new party, despite its initial rural focus, needed to get traction from the cities in order to field candidates at the next election. He said of the new party's current members, 20 per cent were from cities and most were self-employed.

Mr Rintoul owns an Okaihau contracting business, runs a beef farm and was until recently a director of council-owned company Far North Holdings.

He also entered the race to be Northland's National MP after John Carter stepped down but was beaten by Mike Sabin.

Mr Meurant's varied and sometimes controversial career began with the police. He entered politics in 1987 and represented National in the Hobson electorate for three terms. When his electorate was abolished and he faced the prospect of being a list MP under MMP, he formed the Right of Centre Party and became National's first coalition partner.

He was a political lobbyist for five years and currently spends most of thehis  time in Prague as a partner in aquaculture business ventures in the United Arab Emirates, Syria and Morocco.

Sandra Goudie quit politics last year after serving three terms as National's Coromandel MP. She is a former chairman of the law and order select committee.

Horeke-based Joe Carr is a JP and represents the Far North on the Northland Regional Council. Lachlan McKenzie is a Rotorua farmer and former head of Federated Farmers' dairy section, while Marina Koltsova emigrated from Russia and is a fashion designer and manufacturer.

Mr Rintoul said he had already been approached to consider a political coalition but had turned it down.

''When we release our policies they will be well-researched and, unlike what happens at the moment, there will be outcomes.''

- Northern Advocate

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