'Good' to have Christian allies on-side - Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges says it would be "good" to have a Christian party on-side at next year's election.

But he's aware that not all church-going folk would necessarily vote for it.

The National leader on Sunday confirmed west Auckland list MP Alfred Ngaro is considering splitting from the party to set up a conservative Christian party. Bridges first learned of the plans "a month or two back".

"He came to me. We sat down, he basically said, 'You know that this is something I'm thinking about, it's in the very early stages.' My position was, 'okay, come back to me when you know more,' and look, he hasn't come back to me on it yet. So that's the deal."

Being a list MP, if Ngaro quits he'd be replaced by another National candidate - the next on the list is David Hiatt, who was comfortably defeated in Wigram by Labour's Megan Woods in 2017.

There wouldn't be a by-election, which could explain Bridges' nonchalance.

"If this happens, good, if it doesn't, fine. Really now it's for Alfred to sort of work that out," said Bridges. "I'm giving him space because he's a good guy... it's worth letting him do that."

Alfred Ngaro.
Alfred Ngaro. Photo credit: Getty

Ngaro voted against same-sex marriage in 2013, and last week called legal abortion "an unholy Holocaust".

Bridges said there's a gap in the market presently for a Christian conservative party, noting "interesting character" Colin Craig's Conservative Party managed to get 4 percent in 2014, and the Christian Coalition - led by convicted paedophile Graham Capill - got 4.33 percent in 1996.

But even with the potential of an ally bringing several seats to the table - which ACT hasn't managed in several election cycles - Bridges says there won't be any electorate deal.

"We're not going to do that. That bit of the story that was out there on Friday is not correct," he said, referring to speculation National wouldn't run a candidate in Botany, letting Ngaro's party take on former National MP Jami-Lee Ross.

"We want to stand a strong National candidate and win that seat for National... National's position is, we want people to vote for National - that's the way we get closest to being across the line."

He said there's no guarantee Christians would flock to vote for Ngaro's party.

"If you go into a church today anywhere in New Zealand of any sort of denomination, you will have some people that vote National, you'll have some people that vote Labour, you'll probably have some people - who knows - that vote for the Green Party."

Bridges said he'd be "incredibly clear" early next year where the party stood in terms of potential deals and coalition partners, including Ngaro's potential party and New Zealand First.

The number of Christians in New Zealand is falling in both real and percentage terms. It fell from 59 percent in 2001 to 47.6 percent in 2013, down from just over 2 million to 1.85 million.



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