Quite why I was in parliament buildings in 1996 I can’t recall.
But I do remember being in the office of an MP with several others including Ross Meurant who had resigned from the National Party and formed the Right of Centre Party when his electorate disappeared with the introduction of MMP.
He told us he’d formed the party to give National a coalition partner. We told him it wouldn’t work.
We were right.
Since then he’s occupied himself in a variety of ways:
Meurant was elected onto the Rodney District Council in 1998. However, his time with the Rodney District Council was short-lived: the entire council was dissolved by the Minister of Local Government after an acrimonious relationship between the general manager and Meurant culminated in a split within the council.
Between 1999 and 2004 Meurant was engaged by parliamentary services as a part time adviser on agriculture, forestry, fishing and racing taxation policy to Winston Peters, . . .
He’s now on the board of another new party – Focus New Zealand (which was, until its first meeting last week, the New Zealand Rural Party).
Another ex-MP, Sandra Goudie is on the board with him.
She won the Coromandel seat from then-Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, served three terms then had the good sense to announce she wouldn’t contest the seat last year.
That good sense has now deserted her.
If either of them had learned anything from their tenure as MPs they would be aware of the time, energy, money and members needed to run a party and win elections. They would also know they won’t succeed.
Perhaps they didn’t realise that when they were in parliament and if they did they can’t have shared it with their fellow board members among whom is former Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie.
They might attract some votes from the disenchanted and deluded. But unless they can work a miracle which no other new party without a sitting MP has managed Focus NZ will join the long list of wannabe MPs and parties that have come and gone without getting anywhere near parliament.