Muller asks National board to remove Walker from party

There has been widespread calls for Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker to be dumped. While the party leader doesn’t have the power to sack an electorate MP, Todd Muller says that the leaking of health information showed ‘serious lapses of judgment’, and ‘appalling lack of judgement’, and was ‘completely unacceptable’, and has written to the National Party board asking that Walker is removed from the party.

Muller says he us very angry about what happened.

RNZ:  Todd Muller on Hamish Walker – ‘There needs to be consequences’

The National Party leader says he has written to the party’s board asking them to remove MP Hamish Walker from the party after it was revealed he leaked private health information to media.

Prior to that revelation, National Party leader Todd Muller described the leak as “loose, shabby and a reminder these guys can’t manage important things well”.

“The problem is when you’ve allowed a culture of sloppiness and clumsiness to take over and become pervasive, you know, really history suggests you need a new broom to be able to sort and set the tone from the top,” he said on Monday.

Walker, who admitted the leak late yesterday afternoon, has already been stripped of his portfolios and is now subject to an independent State Services inquiry.

Muller told Morning Report there needed to be consequences and he has written to the party’s board asking it to remove Walker from the party.

Muller has given a lengthy interview to RNZ, they say they will post more details. Walker and Boag would not do interviews. They will be subject to the inquiry set up to investigate the leak.

The board will meet to discuss the matter today.

Muller said he learn on Monday at lunchtime about who leaked the information when Walker contacted him to inform him. He is not aware of any other National MPs being aware of who was responsible for the leak.

Muller also said the consequences will be significant for Michelle Boag, who obtained the information in her role as Acting CEO of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Muller says that Boag did not assist him with his leadership takeover, and he’s not aware of her helping Walker on other matters.

I think that Walker should jump before he is pushed from the party, or al least announce he won’t stand for re-election in  September.

This is hugely damaging for National as it is, but if Walker doesn’t resign or withdraw the damage to the party will increase.

Muller is saying and doing about all he can in the circumstances. It must have removed any hope of success for him or national this election.


He had little choice but to do this, and jumping before being pushed reduces the substantial damage he has done to his party.

Todd Muller accepts Hamish Walker’s decision not to stand in 2020

National Party Leader Todd Muller has today accepted Hamish Walker’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for the seat of Southland and not stand at the upcoming election.

“Rachel Bird, the National Party’s Southern Regional Chair, has received a letter from Hamish confirming he will withdraw as the National Party candidate for Southland.

“There was a clear breach of trust, which goes against the values National holds as a party.

“The National Party Board will still meet today to discuss the selection of a new candidate.”

Negotiations, decisions could be some time yet

NZ First party discussions on who to form a government with will continue into today, and even when they make a decision it could still take time from then to know what the outcome is.

There seemed to be no great urgency to get things under way yesterday morning as NZ First MPs and board members trickled into Wellington. They were reported to start meeting at 10.30 am.

Late yesterday afternoon Winston Peters issued a brief statement:

The New Zealand First Board and Members of Parliament are continuing with their discussions around post-election negotiations.

It is expected the meeting will go on for several more hours.

Later advice was given that things wouldn’t be complete on Monday.

NZH: More talks ahead as NZ First decides on government

The nine NZ First caucus members and 14 board members were sequestered away for the day getting meals taken into them rather than leaving for food. The meeting broke soon after 6pm and the board left through a back entrance. Only NZ First MP Shane Jones left past the waiting media, saying they were going to get dinner.

…after 6pm media were told there would be no public statements and the board would return again this morning.

Peters said little during the day and would not confirm whether his discussions with one party were more advanced than another. He did confirm English was correct that he had not discussed ministerial portfolios in negotiations.

He has also said the board and caucus were yet to consider what form of government NZ First would settle on – from the cross benches to a full coalition.

Although NZ First leader Winston Peters said he expected to announce NZ First’s intentions as soon as possible after that board meeting, English said that even if NZ First made its decision on which side to go with there would have to be further negotiations before a final deal and government was settled on.

So one of Peters’ assurances, that a decision may be made by the end of this week, may be his most accurate, albeit typically vague.

And that may not be the end of it. English:

“They won’t be looking at completed agreements because there are still a number of issues related to forming a government that have not yet been dealt with. The policy discussion was completed but there is not yet an agreement including the type of government, ministerial positions to put to our caucus or party board.”

He said working out those final details should not take long although if NZ First continued to negotiate with both sides on those issues it could be more difficult because of the added “complexity” on the Labour side because of the inclusion of the Green Party.

The Greens appear to be yet to take any options to the party for consideration.

The Green Party has also again held off holding its Special General Meeting to seek 75 per cent approval from about 150 delegates for its deal with Labour. It has been ready to hold that meeting for days.

If the delegates don’t reach agreement it may have to go to all party members for consultation and making a decision, if one can be made. There may be some concerns over getting into a governing arrangement when NZ First seem to have so much sway.

Earlier, Peters had told Newstalk ZB it was a complex decision and all options for a government formation were still on the table – from the cross benches to a full coalition. He wanted the party to decide based on policy gains rather than ministerial roles.

He said NZ First had worked over the weekend to firm up the precise agreements with National and Labour, and contact had been “reasonably extensive”.

So negotiations were nowhere near complete by Thursday, the original deadline indicated by Peters.

I don’t care how long they take, but media seem to be getting increasingly frustrated with being strung along without getting any stories of substance to report on.

NZ First decision Monday, Tuesday, maybe

Inexplicably Winston Peters changed from a promise of a decision on the new Government by Thursday to deferring the decision to the NZ First board. And indicating this may have been an unexpected change of mind the board wasn’t anywhere near ready to meet and decide.

The current plan is for the NZ First board to assemble in Wellington on Monday and to meet all day, and then for the NZ First caucus to make a decision, and then announce it, maybe on Monday night, maybe on Tuesday, maybe.

This suggests that the negotiations have not gone to plan for Peters. It suggests that there has been more to discuss and work out than he anticipated, or that the decision is not as clear cut as he thought it would be. He claimed that he had no idea which way the decision should go.

This may mean that both National and Labour have given him heaps of policy concessions.

Or it may mean they have both played hardball, and offered NZ First policies in keeping with their 7.2% level of support.

Peters has said that now the offers are on the table there may be minor clarifications sought but no more meetings and no more negotiations.

“No. There will be clarification, but contrary to whatever is said we are not running a Dutch auction here.”

That suggests that both the deals may be good enough for him to go with as they are.

But can we take Peters at his word? Hardly. A fresh look at things by the board could feasibly raise overlooked issues.

And will that be the final word? Does anyone know?

It sounds like both National and Labour are waiting for Peters to announce the NZ First decision. We don’t know if that will be the final decision, or whether National or Labour can then choose to opt in or opt out.

And then there’s the Greens, but that’s worth a post on it’s own.

We have been assured of a NZ First decision by Monday or Tuesday or however long it takes, but that will be followed by public reaction, media reaction and possible reaction from National and Labour party members and supporters.

There is no real urgency, but there is no certainty either about what will happen next week.

Who are the unelected people making a decision on the future of New Zealand?

Winston Peters insists that he won’t be making a decision on what form the incoming government will take, and what policy priorities will have.

Last night he said that the NZ First party and board will be making the decision:

“Winston Peters is not going to make a decision. A party called NZ First, 24 years around the block, is going to make a decision, and its board. Not Winston Peters. I can’t speak for the party because I haven’t had a chance to talk to them all.”

Who is on the NZ First board?


Two of those are easily known:

  • The Leader: Winston Peters
  • The Deputy Leader: Ron Mark

Like Espiner I can’t find anything on who the others are, apart from in general terms.

National Officers (5):


Director General (1):


So the Director-General is appointed by the Board, and is on the Board.

Directors (6):


So there are 14 people on the NZ First board, and 12 of them are not MPs so aren’t elected by the public.

Espiner is trying to find out who these people are.

How relevant is this? It depends a bit on how much say the board have in what is being negotiated and what is decided. Peters claims he doesn’t make the decisions, but it would be surprising if he doesn’t have a large amount of influence in anything that happens.

Conservative Party AGM?

There’s been at least two notifications of Conservative Party AGMs and announcement of a new Board of Management, but no sign of anything happening.


Colin Craig’s Conservative Party scheduled its Annual Conference this weekend.  It started on Friday evening, yesterday was the AGM, followed by a public meeting in the evening, and Colin and his closest friends are having a good conflab at the Centurion castle in Albany this morning.


As I arrived, the Concierge of the Novotel Ellerslie was very helpful and keen to assist me find the conference.   He wondered if I was there for the 50th birthday party?

“No”, I said, “I’m looking for the Conservative Party Annual Conference”.   Not missing a beat, the Concierge suggested I might be at the wrong hotel.

A political party that advertises its Annual Conference, including the all important AGM, and then doesn’t actually have it – is it still a political party?   Party insiders tell me that some members have been nominated for board positions, and (incongruously) ex-member and ex board chair Brian Dodds has agreed to vet them.   The constitution requires an appointment committee.

And a month later (mid-October) on Facebook:


I’ve searched for news and have found nothing.

The Conservative Party website says nothing about the September non-conference nor the October mystery conference.

The ‘Latest Update’ on the website is Colin Craig Statement of 19 June. Nothing since then, although the website has been updated and no longer shows Colin Craig as Party Leader (my last record of him stated as leader there was on July 28 – see Craig still acting as Conservative leader.

But Craig continues to show as leader on his Twitter account…


…but there hasn’t been any activity there since early August.

Back to Twitter this is his current home page which has also been inactive for three months.

ColinCraigFacebookThe Vote Colin Craig website that links to has also been inactive.

Is there still a Conservative Party?

John Stringer gives up Conservative Board

John Stringer has given up his attempt to put together a new Conservative Party Board, for now at least.

TVNZ reports John Stringer quits Conservative Party board membership.

John Stringer has resigned as a board member of the Conservative Party.

His resignation has been received by the Party Secretary, Nathaniel Heslop who says Mr Stringer remains a supporter of the Conservative Party, its principles and policies.

The party will hold board elections later this year and in the meantime a provisional board has been established.

So that makes it all of the Board that has now resigned.

Stringer may have decided it was too difficult to fight against the resources and determination of Colin Craig.

The Conservative Board bull

The battle of the two Conservative Party Boards seems to be unresolved, although Colin Craig appears to have control of the party officials and the party resources including the membership database.

So Whale Oil Media continues their campaign against Craig. Cameron Slater has posted 20 FAIR QUESTIONS FOR COLIN CRAIG which in the main seems to be a padded out list of threats of more revelations, eventually.

There are going to be a lot of people quite disappointed with him when the truth finally reaches them.   And that may not be for some time.

But apart from Stringer and the genuine board, nobody is in a hurry.

That doesn’t look like how responsible media or journalists should operate.

However one of the questions is important relating to the current battle of the Boards.

The one Board member who didn’t resign, John Stringer, appointed new interim Board members in the weekend. Colin Craig has claimed Stringer has not authority to do that because the Board had suspended him from the party on Thursday.

Slater asks:

When you said publicly that John Stringer had been “suspended” by “a duly constituted meeting of the board headed by then-board chairman Brian Dobbs” (NZHerald) why did you not disclose that it was simply a phone call between Brian Dobbs (who resigned the next day) and Nathaniel Heslop (who had already resigned)?

Unless Craig can demonstrate that Stringer has legitimately been suspended using proper and fair processes then Craig’s dismissal of the Stringer Board and his attempts to set up an alternative Board have little credibility.

Both Stringer and Craig seem to be waging a PR battle via proxies – Stringer appears to be informing Slater to promote his agenda and Craig appears to be using the party officials to promote his agenda.

But there’s a lack of facts and a lot of bull.

The Conservative Party looks far from transparent and and far from democratic. Unless the Board bull can be seen to be properly sorted out then I don’t see any viable future for the party.

Conservative Board battles

Colin Craig says that the Conservative Party is proceeding to set up a new Board, claiming that the Board set up by John Stringer is invalid.

Stuff reports: Colin Craig reveals plan for new Conservative board

Following the mass resignation of board members last week, Mr Craig said he had received advice from membership manager Angela Storr that a new board would be elected.

It appears that party officials are working in Craig’s interests.

The election of a new board came despite claims from self-appointed chairman John Stringer that an executive body was already in place.

Mr Stringer, the only board member not to resign last week, said he was the head of a newly-created interim board. This interim board had suspended Mr Craig’s membership on Saturday, he said.

Craig has said his suspension is invalid as due process hadn’t been followed.

But Mr Craig said Mr Stringer had been suspended by the party on Thursday for breaching the party’s code of conduct.

Former chairman Brian Dobbs confirmed Mr Stringer’s suspension.

Except there’s also doubt over this, with claims that Dobbs couldn’t have suspended Stringer because the only other remaining Board member, Laurence Day, was overseas. And both Dobbs and Day resigned from the Board the following day (last Friday).

Mr Craig said: “Given that Mr Stringer is not currently a member of the party he has no business holding himself out in any capacity as its representative.

“I therefore do not accept any subsequent suspension of my own membership.”

This may need to be resolved via lawyers.

Despite the party’s disintegration last week, Mr Craig said finding a new board should not be difficult.

“The party has fantastic depth and there will be no shortage of great people to step up and do the job.”

Finding a new Board may not be difficult – Stringer managed to find a new Board by last weekend – but finding a credible Board may be a lot more tricky.

Craig says he won’t stand for the Board. Instead he claims to have ‘overwhelming support’ from party membership and seems to expect to have a loyal Board elected, which will then select him as party leader again.

This is despite al of the previous Board resigning, with two at least claiming or inferring that Craig has lied about his dealings with that Board. See next post.

It’s hard to see the Conservative Party putting anything together but a Craig dominated remnant.

Conservative party – what happens next

Whale Oil has posted a copy of an emailed letter they claim was sent to all Conservative party members by the party Members Manager. It is on party letterhead, and opens:


In the past week there have been many things happening and many of you have had questions. I am now writing to you so that you are updated.

Colin and the Leadership

Last Friday in agreement with the Board Chairman, Colin stepped down as the leader. He did so that various allegations being made could be looked into further by the Board. He has an agreed written process which will involve the Board investigating the matter further.

In the meantime Colin and Helen have written out to you by post asking for your feedback. Colin will be making a decision around his future involvement in politics based on your feedback, so don’t forget to have your say.

There is no functioning Board at this stage. See below.

The letter seems to be promoting Craig’s interests.

The Board

Unfortunately the Board began to fracture and there have been a few disappointing moments as some (now ex) Board members went public with their opinions. This began a series of resignations from the Board. As at 5pm on Friday 26th June 2015, the Board was vacant with no elected members.

Mr Stringer

One Board member (Mr Stringer) was suspended from membership of the Party on Thursday afternoon after serious serious breaches of his obligations. If you are contacted by Mr Stringer please understand that he is suspended and has no standing in the party.

So Stringer is described as ‘suspended’ immediately (presumably for speaking out) but Craig, who has also spoken out (and has admitted breaching a confidentiality agreement) is awaiting due process and gets letters sent out that look like they are acting in his interests.

What happens next

The officers of the party (Membership Manager, Administration Manager,, and Party Secretary) will confer and agree on the best way forward. It is likely this will involve the election of a new Board. The constitution requires that an election of the Board be by postal ballot. We are currently taking further advice on this.

It appears that party officials have deemed the Board is defunct and they have assumed control of the party.

And it looks like the party officials are operating on behalf of Craig.

And Craig provides the money to pay the wages of the officials.

It looks like the money man calls the shots, and what happens next is being dictated by Craig (as the letter looks dictated by Craig).

Conservative constitutional crisis

The battle for survival continues in the Conservative Party with conflicting claims about the current mess. It appears that the party has plummeted into a constitutional crisis.

Yesterday John Stringer, the one remaining board member, convened a meeting and suspended Craig’s party membership. NZ Herald with Troubled Colin Craig in leader squabble.

Stringer appointed himself chairman yesterday and created a new board with former electorate candidates Deborah Cunliffe, Mark Pearce and Thomas O’Rourke, and Waikato regional chairman Al Belcher.

“They meet again next month, when they may make a final decision on Craig’s suspension and appoint a leader.

Craig claims that doesn’t count.

Craig last night said the new board – and therefore his suspension – was invalid because neither natural justice nor the party’s constitution had been followed at yesterday’s meeting.

I don’t think the party constitution allows anything to happen without a functioning Board. The Board controls who can stand for election to the Board.

“I think any ordinary person will realise a process when you don’t advise the person that you’re considering something, you don’t let them attend, you don’t even give them a chance to respond to allegations, is no proper process.”

That could be debatable. But it is al

Craig said Stringer’s actions were invalid because he had been suspended from the party by remaining board members on Thursday, which Stringer denied.

I think there were three remaining members on Thursday. Two of them resigned on Friday. It would be remarkable if two Board members suspended the other remaining member and then resigned themselves. That puts the party in a ludicrous situation.

And Craig himself said (repeating from above).

“I think any ordinary person will realise a process when you don’t advise the person that you’re considering something, you don’t let them attend, you don’t even give them a chance to respond to allegations, is no proper process.”

He can’t have one rule for himself and one rule for Stringer.

Ok, this is Craig we’re talking about. He seems to think he can make whatever rules he likes.

But the party constitution doesn’t cover the situation where the Board becomes dysfunctional. As shown in How the Conservatives ‘elect’ their Leader and Board the constitution gives the Board almost exclusive control over who can stand for the Board and who is appointed leader.

Without a functioning board there is no functioning party.

The only option seems to be to start again at membership level but this would have to be done outside the constitution as it doesn’t allow for this situation.

It’s hard to see how it could be much messier.

They have to virtually start the party structure again from scratch.