Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

22 on Craig's local poll list

Conservative candidates target local boards, but party is saving best for general election.

Colin Craig says he expects to be in Parliament next year.
Colin Craig says he expects to be in Parliament next year.

The Conservative Party is entering the local body elections with a team of 22 candidates standing in Auckland, but leader Colin Craig is keeping his powder dry to focus on next year's general elections.

Mr Craig yesterday said standing candidates in 15 of the 21 local boards was the first trial of the Conservative Party brand since it registered as a political party in October 2011.

The North Shore property developer, who stood as an independent mayoral candidate at the first Super City elections in 2010, said he expected to be in Parliament next year.

Mr Craig came third behind Len Brown and John Banks with 42,598 votes, or 8.8 per cent of the total.

The party, he said, was keeping its best people aside for the party list at the general elections and standing candidates at local board level, some of whom could go on and stand at council or mayoral level later.

The Conservative Party was standing candidates only for the Auckland Council, but expected to run candidates elsewhere in the country at future local body elections, he said.

The party's chief executive, Upper Harbour Local Board member and former Work and Income boss Christine Rankin, is among the candidates, standing for re-election on the Conservatives' manifesto of fiscal responsibility and giving more power and funding to local boards.

She said the boards were kept busy with relative trivia while Rome burned, citing the council's projected debt of $6 billion this year and half of rates revenue being spent on staff.

Mr Craig's father, former Rodney District councillor Ross Craig, is contesting the Dairy Flat subdivision for the Rodney Local Board.

The Conservatives are standing on a platform of reviewing big projects, including the $2.86 billion city rail link, which Mr Craig said would not benefit many Aucklanders.

The city's most effective public transport project had been the Northern Busway, he said.

The Conservatives want rates held at the level of inflation.

Right-leaning mayoral candidate John Palino yesterday said he would not raise rates above inflation, saying Mayor Brown's increase of 2.9 per cent this year was more than three times the current consumer price index inflation rate of 0.9 per cent.

Mr Brown has raised rates by 3.9 per cent, 3.6 per cent and 2.9 per cent in his first term.

Conservative platform

* 22 candidates standing for 15 local boards.
* Leader Colin Craig not standing; plans to focus on next year's general election.
* Hold rates to inflation.
* Give greater power and funding to local boards.

- NZ Herald

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