National Party President Peter Goodfellow has confirmed that he is standing again this weekend for the party’s board.
There had been speculation he might stand down in the wake of his 11 years on the board and the party’s devastating defeat at the election.
But last night Goodfellow emailed the party’s 450 delegates to its annual meeting this weekend confirming that he was standing.
At the same time, the party’s Papakura electorate, home to its leader, Judith Collins, has nominated Northland farmer Grant McCallum to the board.
POLITIK understands that one member of the electorate, Terry Dunleavy, will today publish on a blog post a call for Goodfellow to stand down.
Collins did not respond last night to questions from POLITIK about whether she agreed with her electorate.
McCallum has previously served on the board and most recently ran its Northland election campaign.
In his campaign emails to delegates, he has emphasised the need for the party to “reignite”.
“Unfortunately, our Party – New Zealand’s representative of individual freedom, equality of opportunity and personal responsibility – has lost touch with its members, and as a result, everyday New Zealanders,” he said in one email.
“These are issues that start from the top and must be addressed from today if we want any chance to win in 2023.”
McCallum’s email infers that the board needs to play a role in defining the party’s message.
Another candidate, the former Speaker, David Carter, disagrees.
He told Stuffhe wanted to de-politicise the board, saying that politics was the role of the National Caucus.
“The previous board has been a bit too political, and politics should stay with the caucus. The board’s role is to govern,” Carter said.
Goodfellow appears to be pitching the same message with an emphasis in his email on his governance experience.
“The Party needs both sound governance and professional expertise to assist it to regroup and rebuild before we can regain public support and win in 2023, his email says.
“Winning campaigns takes a combination of policy, people, an army of committed volunteers, discipline and unity.
“Even then, that only works if we are able to deliver key messaging, and that takes money. “
He particularly highlights his fundraising abilities.
“This success has been due to my personal long-standing business and philanthropic connections with corporate New Zealand,” he says.
“Every three years, these networks have continuously and generously contributed many millions to the Party campaigns.
“I am committed to fully funding our comeback in 2023, knowing this will be the hardest yet.”
According to the NBR rich list, the Goodfellow family is worth around $500 million. Goodfellow is currently a director of Sanfords, the fishing company.
Meanwhile, one of the five candidates seeking election to the board, Leigh Morrow, has dropped out and has endorsed Goodfellow.
She told Stuffshe would stand for the board next year as she didn’t want to stand for the board when Goodfellow was also seeking re-election.
The election comes as the party begins an investigation into its failure at the last election. Pairs of MPs are visits electorates to hear their views.
For many MPs these will not be easy sessions as the party membership points to the lack of unity within the caucus; widespread concern about selections; the manifesto costing debacle; the leaking and the fumbled leadership change as being factors in the party’s failure.
The party is yet to announce the details of its formal election review, but Goodfellow’s email says it must be comprehensive, full, frank and future-focused.
“Not only must it investigate the campaign itself, but all that took place over the last Parliamentary term,” he says.
That would seem to want to include matters like Simon Bridges’ leadership and Judith Collins’ role in trying to depose him in 2019.
“Whatever the recommendations, we must be honest with ourselves and commit to rebuilding a party that reflects the vibrant and diverse communities of our country,” thee mail says.
“As a Party, we must increase our efforts to internally develop, support and mentor more officeholders, leaders and candidates.”
McCallum’s email says it is “easy to point fingers at each other; let’s, in fact, point them forwards and develop a plan to get our party back on track.”
“We need a representative that will review our party to make the required changes from now until 2023,” he says.
“As a member on the board, I would personally seek answers on the party’s lacklustre candidate selection process.
“I will ensure a voice is brought back to our electorate and members, for a fair electoral process that will represent all New Zealanders.
“We need a representative that will reunite our party to ensure you have a voice.
“New Zealanders are not interested in a Party plagued by internal conflict. They are looking for someone to represent them and this great country.”
Because of the peculiarities of the National Party constitution, Party members do not get a vote on their President. Instead, that decision is made by the party board which members do vote for.
That is why this election, with the sitting President, one of four fighting for three seats, is attracting so much interest.