Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he is trying to "raise the standard of debate'' in New Zealand with his defamation claim against Greens co-leader Russel Norman.

The millionaire property manager said the majority of Kiwi voters take "a dim view'' to the "childish'' level of public debate in this country.

Mr Craig is taking Mr Norman to court over comments he made in a speech at the Big Gay Out festival, in which he said the Conservatives leader believes "a woman's place is in the kitchen and a gay man's place is in the closet''.

Mr Craig said voters "deserve to know what people really stand for, not have the fairy tale made up for them by someone else'', adding that Mr Norman was "factually very wrong'' in his statements to the Big Gay Out crowd.


"I'm calling Russel Norman to task on that because I think New Zealanders want a higher standard of debate,'' Mr Craig told TV3`s The Nation this morning, denying he was being overly sensitive about the comments.

"This is galvanising the ordinary New Zealander, who is tired of a very childish debate - the name-calling, the making up stories as you go. I actually think the public deserve a better quality of debate.

"I think most New Zealanders ... would like politicians to be more honest and play the game around the issues and not the people.''

In the same interview Mr Craig denied having ever tried marijuana, but said he thought it was illogical to ban the drug when artificial marijuana is legal to buy.