New right-wing party formed

A new right-wing party seeking to "reverse New Zealand's growing dependence on the state" has been formed.

Reform New Zealand launched its website yesterday, with the help of an ousted Act Party list candidate, and is working toward getting 500 members to join.

In order to register with the Electoral Commission and stand in an election, a party must have 500 paid-up members.

Peter Tashkoff, who was booted out of Act last year after criticising leader Rodney Hide, said he helped with the party's website, but was no longer involved.

Reform spokesman Andrew McLennan, a lawyer, told NZPA the party was founded by a core group, who decided there was need for change.

"We're just a group of everyday average Kiwis who feel about passionate about turning the status of the economy around," he said. "We are hopeful that once we have a response from the community, we'll have a better idea to be able to engage who wants to support us, and in what capacity."

The Reform Party said it believed New Zealand was becoming deeply mired in social and economic distress after two decades of weak and ineffective government.

"New Zealand recently enjoyed the best global economy in a lifetime and with that the chance to restore its future prosperity," a statement said. "Instead, tens of billions were wasted pandering to socialist ideology."

Act Party founder Sir Roger Douglas, who announced his retirement from politics today, said the new party was no competition for Act despite a troubling year, which included David Garret's resignation and Heather Roy's demotion.

"I think there is no doubt that Rodney will win Epsom as things stand, and he'll take a number of MPs with him -- the issue is how many," Sir Roger said.

"If you are going to be really effective you need to win eight or nine [seats]. There is a question mark given our polling to whether that's possible, but one week is a long time in politics."

Sir Roger said he knew people working within the party, but was unaware of the details.

"I understand it's being set, I don't know much more than that. Frankly, they have a very hard row to hoe."

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