Whirlwind week full of pressure and changes for Calvert

By Derek Cheng

Hilary Calvert feels Don Brash is the right man to lead Act. Photo / APN
Hilary Calvert feels Don Brash is the right man to lead Act. Photo / APN

Hilary Calvert, the MP who changed the future of the Act Party when she switched her allegiance from Rodney Hide to Don Brash, at times this week needed the "wisdom of Solomon".

In the wash-up of the coup of the Act leadership, Ms Calvert is denying switching camps and insisting it was Mr Hide who decided he was not the best person to lead Act into the election.

But it was clear after her meeting with Dr Brash and party founder Sir Roger Douglas on Wednesday that Ms Calvert had left the Hide camp for the Brash camp, and that night Mr Hide had raised the white flag and called Prime Minister John Key to tell him so.

Ms Calvert is now unequivocally backing Dr Brash, including his wish to stand former Auckland Mayor John Banks as the Act candidate in Epsom and the possibility of the party's ministerial posts being shaken up.

Ms Calvert told the Weekend Herald it had been a whirlwind week of intense pressure.

"I said to some people in emails that I think some of us have needed the wisdom of Solomon. It's not always available. You just have to do the best you can. I think I did the best I could."

Ms Calvert entered Parliament in September after former MP David Garrett resigned in the wake of revelations of child identity theft and assault convictions. She has become the party's mouthpiece for race relations and was a fierce opponent of the foreshore and seabed legislation.

She had long admired Dr Brash's polarising Orewa speech in 2004, which she has read several times, when Dr Brash attacked what he called "the dangerous drift towards racial separatism". She said there was little policy difference between Dr Brash and Mr Hide, but Dr Brash would deliver the message better.

If Dr Brash wanted to bring Mr Banks in to the party and to stand in Epsom, she said she would "certainly support that".

She would also supported Dr Brash's vision of how Act's ministerial posts should be shared, even if that meant stripping Mr Hide or John Boscawen of their portfolios.

"I'm open for change, I'm open for continuing [the status quo]. If [change] is what the leader wanted, I would support him."

But she was not interested in a ministerial post, and giving her one would be waste of resources because she could not do it justice.

"From my general 'less government' and 'saving money' position too, I wouldn't like to think the Government was wasting those sorts of resources on me, this early in my career."

She did not rule out putting her name forward to be parliamentary leader.

Her first months of being an MP had been "more interesting and exciting than I ever imagined it would be".

"It's a wonderful thing to be given the trust of people to represent them in Parliament. I just hope that I am in some way fulfilling the needs of the people who chose me to be there."

- NZ Herald

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