The Act Party has lost its fifth candidate in eight weeks after Brent Miles, who was running in Taranaki King Country, withdrew from the race just over a month out from the election.
A party spokesman said Miles withdrew last week for personal reasons and “we have no further comment”.
It follows the resignations of other candidates after it was revealed they had made historical comments about Covid-19 vaccines and former prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
Elaine Naidu Franz compared vaccine mandates to Nazi concentration camps. She resigned in August. Party leader David Seymour said: “Those comments are unacceptable.”
Anto Coats made parody songs about Ardern, where he sang she was “throwing you in the Gulag [a Soviet prison camp]”. He said he had resigned for personal reasons.
Darren Gilchrest claimed Covid-19 vaccines were linked to drownings. He apologised for his past comments and also claimed to be standing down for personal reasons.
The fourth candidate, Scott Boness, who was running in Auckland Central, withdrew in early August.
Questioned on the party’s vetting process, Seymour told the Herald on August 23 he was confident of it and said it was impossible to check all of a candidate’s online history.
“At some point, as a society, we have to deal with that,” he said.
Regarding Naidu Franz, Seymour said he accepted her offer of resignation on the spot.
“I think those comments are unacceptable and I’m glad that she’s chosen to step down voluntarily. It’s for the best for everybody.
“In the time that we examined this candidate, they hadn’t shown any inkling of being someone that would make a comment like that, so we’re a bit surprised - we’re just glad they’ve stepped down.”
He said her comments were made almost two years ago.
Seymour said some people who had applied to be candidates were rejected due to historical comments they’d made. He couldn’t say whether those comments had been primarily Covid-related.
Act’s vetting process included asking candidates to check whether anything they’d done or said in the past could embarrass the party.
He wasn’t aware of any existing candidates on the party’s list that had identified comments relating to Covid-19 that could embarrass the party, but couldn’t rule it out.
“Look, you never say never. I think we’ve made a very good effort at vetting our candidates.”
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.