Party meets in Beijing to discuss Botany

The byelection has been set for March 5, following the resignation of former Cabinet minister Pansy Wong from Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The byelection has been set for March 5, following the resignation of former Cabinet minister Pansy Wong from Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A new political party linked to the businessman behind a failed Chinese bid for the Crafar dairy farms says it will contest the Botany byelection.

Jack Chen, who claims to be the force behind Natural Dairy NZ's bid for the farms, met key leaders of the fledgling New Citizen Party in Beijing last week to discuss plans for its future.

The byelection, which follows the resignation of former Cabinet minister Pansy Wong from Parliament, has been set for March 5.

A party supporter, who did not want to be named, said that at the meeting, Mr Chen outlined a "two-step plan" to win parliamentary seats.

"First, there's a plan to win Botany by winning the support of the migrants, who make up more than half of the voters there," he said, speaking in Mandarin.

"Our party leaders will then be talking with Maori tribes to also get their party votes for us to get at least six candidates as MPs at this year's election."

The Herald understands contenders for the party's Botany candidacy include former Labour Party list candidate Stephen Ching, United Chinese Press chief editor Jerry Wen Yang and Auckland businessman Paul Young.

Unlike a general election, there will be no "party vote" in the byelection because only the MP is being elected.

Mr Young, the party's secretary, said a decision would be made this week on who its candidate would be. He said the party was still in the process of electing its leadership, and his appointment as secretary was temporary "to meet legal requirements".

He had made his intentions to step down from the position known to Mr Chen and Mr Ching.

Mr Young said the party aimed to get candidates who understood the grassroots issues facing New Zealanders. Success would be determined by gaining support outside the Asian community.

Mr Young did not attend the meeting in Beijing.

The deadline for candidate nominations is February 8. Advance and overseas voting starts on February 16.

- NZ Herald

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