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NZ First, deciding next NZ government, keeps board membership secret

Thursday 12th October 2017

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Two days after undertaking to release a list of the board of the New Zealand First party board, its president Brent Catchpole has changed his mind.

Several members of a group that leader Winston Peters says will be consulted tomorrow on the formation of the next government do not want their names in public, he says.

"You don’t need to know the names of the board members. It’s as simple as that," Catchpole told BusinessDesk this morning after undertaking reluctantly two days ago to make the list of party officeholders public."That's just something you're going to have to live with."

Peters has told media that he expects to take options for government formation to his caucus this evening and to his party's board tomorrow morning, where he will be seeking consensus on a preferred outcome. He has dismissed criticism that the party lacks democratic processes.

According to the NZ First party constitution, the party's governance structure has 14 members, including an ex officio deputy-general. The publicly disclosed members are Peters and deputy leader Ron Mark, former MP Catchpole and secretary Anne Martin.

RNZ has this morning published a list it says it obtained from party sources, naming a vice president North Island, Julian Paul, a vice president South Island, John Thorn, and treasurer Holly Hopkinson. The directors of the board are listed as Claire Ashley, Toa Greening, Robert Monds, Anne Marie Andrews, Kevin Gardener and Sue Sara, RNZ reported.

The New Zealand Herald has also published a more extensive list of people thought to have served on the NZ First board in recent times.

Catchpole said "some of the board members have requested for their names not to be disclosed and so it’s either all or nothing so you won’t be getting that list" and questioned why the board membership was of public interest. 

Some party officeholders were "private citizens" and "not MPs or politicians" who'd put themselves forward for public office, he said.

Asked how secrecy about the party's board membership squared with the NZ First party constitution's opening principles of commitment to "open and accountable government", Catchpole said he was "happy to the president of a party that keeps the confidentiality of the people who are involved in it".

"Our membership is confidential and that’s the way it will remain."

Both the National and Labour parties publish the names of their party board members on their websites.

(BusinessDesk)

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