Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Tussle for Act's Epsom replacement heats up

David Seymour has confirmed he will seek the nomination. Photo / HOS
David Seymour has confirmed he will seek the nomination. Photo / HOS

The tussle to replace John Banks as Act's Epsom candidate is heating up ahead of the party's decision early next month.

Mr Bank's former parliamentary staffer David Seymour yesterday confirmed he will seek the nomination. Former president Chris Simmons says he is still considering whether to run but is talking up his credentials as a possible candidate.

Rodney Hide has yet to show his hand. Photo / HOS
Rodney Hide has yet to show his hand. Photo / HOS

Management consultant and former Cambridge University philosophy lecturer Jamie Whyte has confirmed he will contest the nomination and seek the leadership. Former Act leader and MP Rodney Hide who has also been tipped as a contender is yet to show his hand.

Nominations close on January 28 and the party's board will meet on February 1 and 2 to decide who will stand for the party in Epsom and who will also replace Mr Banks as party leader.

Yesterday after Mr Seymour confirmed he would seek the Epsom nomination, Mr Simmons told the Weekend Herald that he was still considering it.

However, he said he and the three other confirmed or possible contenders would form a strong pool to select from.

"I live in the area with a young family. Jamie's got huge talent. David's got a lot of energy. Rodney's been there done that before and has a lot of experience so it's great."

Mr Hide did not respond to the Weekend Herald's requests for comment.

After earlier saying he wouldn't would seek the Epsom nomination Canada-based Mr Seymour said he had changed his mind after returning to New Zealand for the Christmas break to find "a very positive vibe" around Act.

Former Act president Chris Simmons says he is still making a decision. Photo / NZ Herald
Former Act president Chris Simmons says he is still making a decision. Photo / NZ Herald

That's in spite of a December Herald-DigiPoll which found Act's party vote had dwindled to almost zero in the week after Mr Banks announced he would step down as party leader and that he would not stand for the party again in Epsom.

Mr Banks said he did not want his trial this year on electoral finance charges related to his 2010 Auckland Mayoral bid to be a distraction from the party's efforts to rebuild support during election year.

Meanwhile Mr Whyte's chances of at least taking the leadership role received a boost with Mr Seymour and Mr Simmons both saying they would back him.

Mr Simmons said a refreshed senior lineup should help the party's chances.

"For a party that's in the position Act is in at the moment it's got the chance to use a clean slate to create a new team, to put a new face in front of the public, I think it's really important to ask who's right as the leader, who's right for number three, how are we going to appeal to the various constituencies and if we can get that right we've got a very good message to share."


A hard Act to follow

• Marred by caucus infighting, the resignation of law and order spokesman David Garret following his confession of identity theft and scandals over his own use of perks, perk buster Rodney Hide's time as Act Leader ended in April 2011 in a coup by former National Party Leader Don Brash

• Following a lacklustre 2011 election result where former Auckland Mayor John Banks replaced Mr Hide in Epsom and left him as the party's sole MP Dr Brash resigns leaving Mr Banks as leader.

• After months of being dogged by investigations into his 2010 Auckland City Mayoral campaign finances Mr Banks announces he will resign as leader and won't contest Epsom again.

- NZ Herald

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