Colin Espiner has a story in yesterday’s Press saying that the heads of three National Party branches in the Canterbury district supported by 35 other party members have made a formal complaint to National President Judy Kirk alleging breaches of rules by the selection committee for the Selwyn candidate for National. List MP David Carter’s was the only name placed before the pre-selection committee. One other candidate is reported as saying that he had been “notified by the preselection committee that he would not be going further in the process”.
Regina Christey, a former electorate secretary, in a letter in the paper on the same day, said the process was “disgusting”; with “not one meet-the-candidates meeting of party members, no confirmation of who sat on the selection panel, attempts to bully candidates into withdrawing, no open delegate selection.’
She raises some important points in her letter, published on page A19 – “Did any meeting waive the right of members in the electorate to select the candidate, or was it a case of the National Party board assuming the right to choose for the people of this district? Why did the selection process differ from that in the party’s rules?”
If the process was different from the rules the National Party is in breach of the Electoral Act. Clause 71 of the Act sets out a legal requirement for registered parties to follow democratic procedures in candidate selection. Provision must be made for participation in the selection of candidates by current financial members of the party who are entitled to vote, or by delegates who have been elected by current financial members. The party’s rules governing the selection of candidates must be filed with the Electoral Commission.
Judy Kirk said she was looking into the concerns and would deal with them “in the appropriate way.” It will be interesting to see if that does provide for a more democratic process; or perhaps the National Party this time around wants to hang on to its dead wood?