Barry Soper reports:
The coalition lifeline that National will need if it’s to have a chance at the next election looks set to come in the form of a Christian party led by one of its own, former Cabinet Minister Alfred Ngaro.
Talk within the party’s been rife for weeks now with Ngaro’s plan being well received and with the possibility of National standing aside, possibly in the Botany seat, where it has the strongest party vote by far.
National got a whopping 61% of the party vote in Botany and Labour 29%. It would be a sensible seat to target. The 5th highest party vote in the country for National, percentage wise.
The seats is 46% European, 40% Asian and 12% Pasifika. Half the electorate were born outside New Zealand. It also has the highest proportion of two parent families in NZ.
Ngaro, in his third term, would slip comfortably into the electorate which saw National commanding more than 20,000 party votes at the last election, well ahead of Labour with less than half that number.
A father of four in his early 50s, he was the first MP of Cook Islands descent and began his working life as a self-employed electrician before studying for a theology degree and becoming a pastor.
National would have to agree to giving up the safe seat, like it’s done with Act in Epsom, and it would have to agree to allow Ngaro to stay on in Parliament, representing his new party rather than invoking the waka jumping legislation which is highly unlikely anyway.
Ngaro wasn’t returning calls last night but has confirmed privately he’s exploring the possibility. The party’s leadership is aware of it, realising that it will need an ally if it’s to have any chance of coming close to knocking the Labour, New Zealand First, Greens coalition off its perch.
I’m not a natural supporter of conservative or Christian parties, being socially liberal. But if there is to be in Parliament, I’d much rather someone like Alfred led it, than some of the previous contenders such as Capill, Tamaki and Craig.