Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Boscawen takes over as Act Party president

John Boscawen. File photo / NZPA
John Boscawen. File photo / NZPA

Former Act deputy leader John Boscawen has taken over as Act Party president, replacing Chris Simmons.

Mr Simmons is understood to be preparing to stand for Parliament at the next election and has stepped down.

The formal handover will take place just before the party's annual meeting which will be held next month at the Kaukapapa farm of longtime Act supporter and funder Alan Gibbs.

Mr Boscawen retired from Parliament in 2011, the year Don Brash ousted Rodney Hide from the leadership.

After years of infighting and scandals, the party's ranks in Parliament have been depleted to just one MP - former National MP and former Auckland mayor John Banks, who holds the seat of Epsom under an electoral accommodation with National.

The party polled just 1.07 per cent.

Act has been represented in every Parliament under MMP, since 1996.

At its peak, nine Act MPs were elected, in 1999.

Mr Boscawen believes the party's fortunes can be revived and that the party will boost its MPs next election.

He said it had made major contributions to Parliaments.

"Since 1996 we have stood on behalf of all New Zealanders for freedom of choice without excessive government interference and for personal responsibility."

Mr Banks is the Minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform and Associate Minister of Education responsible for charter schools and Associate Minister of Commerce.

- NZ Herald

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