New Zealand National Party leader, Don Brash, resigns

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

New Zealand National Party leader, Dr. Don Brash has resigned as the leader of opposition. Dr Brash made the announcement at press conference held in parliament, stating that ongoing media speculation about his leadership was damaging the party's reputation. Brash will officially step down on Monday, where the party will vote for a new leader and deputy-leader.

"For some weeks now I've been giving consideration to the right time and the right way to announce this decision. I've held off because I've been keen to have two untidy matters dealt with before my departure," Dr Brash said.

The decision came after a Goods and Service Tax error in last year's election made by the party, "Although this had nothing to do with me personally it was a source of embarrassment and I was very keen indeed to get the matter resolved before my resignation." And recent news of Brash's emails making their way into "outsiders' hands" was also a factor in his decision to leave. The emails were the subject of a book published by Nicky Hager, which is expected to be released to the public tomorrow morning. Dr Brash said: "The announcement of Mr Hager's book almost caused me to defer my resignation as leader. I deeply resent the lies and distortions which seem to have been included in his book and I intend to vigorously contest those allegations." Dr. Brash denied media questioning regarding Nicky Hager's book's influence on his decision to resign from leadership.

It seems that John Key will be the next leader, with a recent Auckland poll showing Key only 1.4 points behind Brash. Nicky Hager has claimed the information in his book may be damaging to John Key as well. Brash's decision came with the Nationals ahead in the poll. Dr. Brash mentioned that he would remain in politics for the National Party if the new leader would provide him with a senior position following the Monday when he steps down from the post. The decision has left the party in crisis, set for their fifth leader in 9 years. Prime Minister Helen Clark said the National Party are having an identity crisis and is unstable.

Dr Brash regrets that he will not be able to lead National into the next election which will take place in 2008.

Michael Cullen, deputy Prime Minister, said: "Brash's resignation was inevitable. This continued instability in the National Party is a sign of a party still nowhere near ready to govern. Dr Brash's resignation was inevitable. But it solves little. By all accounts Mr Key, the likely successor, was deeply involved in all the events that have eventually led to Dr Brash's downfall."

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