Act Party struggles to avoid political oblivion
Saturday 23 Feb 2013 5:12 p.m.
The Act Party is facing political oblivion, so today joined giraffes, zebra and alpaca in an attempt to revive its fortunes.
Current leader John Banks told his small flock of supporters at their annual meeting he is about to turn the party around. But it was their former leader creating controversy.
The conference was complete with enthusiastic supporters and breathtaking sculptures, all on the Alan Gibbs family farm north of Auckland.
As the party faithful arrived at the modern day utopia, they were greeted with a rousing speech from former leader Rodney Hide, who attacked the media.
"The media won't know what you're talking about,” he says. “They think you have horns, hate the poor, hate Maori, hate the unions – well, that's true.”
Fearing that comment would make the news, MC Jim Hopkins asked Mr Hide to reconsider.
“There was a moment when you said we hate the poor, hate the Maoris, hate everything, and it's true,” says Mr Hopkins. I was just wondering if you'd like to revisit that.”
He refused, and took direct aim at 3 News.
“Probably not here, TV3 news, because they're on a tight budget,” says Mr Hide. “Oh they are – bastards!”
But Mr Hide is dust, and the current leader facing political oblivion. The latest 3 News-Reid Research poll out tomorrow has Act sliding from .2 percent, to just .1 percent. That didn't faze current leader Mr Banks.
“We want to get to 5 percent at the next election,” he says.
Act today waded into the housing wars, with a policy called Freedom to Build, effectively giving owners the ability to do much more with their land.
“Act's Freedom to Build policy is a presumption that can you can develop your property if you respect the rights of your neighbours’,” says Mr Banks.
But the Gibbs family farm is renowned for thinking outside the square. And that's exactly what Act needs to do if it's to get from .1 to 5 percent. That's a 4900 percent increase in support.
Mr Banks says it's possible. But today it was hard to tell what was real and what was make-believe.