Rodney and Louise Hide with kids Liberty and Grace. Photo /
John Key's right-hand man made a secret visit to former
Act leader Rodney Hide in a desperate search to shore up a
coalition partner for the National Party at this year's
Sources say senior Cabinet minister Steven Joyce, the
National Party's campaign chairman, visited Hide to persuade
him to return to politics as Epsom MP and leader of the Act
party - but this weekend, Hide has rebuffed him.
In a column in today's Herald on Sunday, Hide
exclusively reveals he gave serious consideration to calls
from friends and supporters for him to return to the fray.
But he has a new job, is moving to Christchurch, and he and
his wife Louise have a baby due in July, their third.
The calls for his return came after current Act leader John
Banks declared he was standing down this year, under the
cloud of a prosecution over campaign donations from German IT
millionaire Kim Dotcom and the SkyCity casino group.
National's other potential partners are in trouble too: both
Maori Party leaders are retiring, United Future leader Peter
Dunne resigned as a minister in a row over a leaked
Government Communications Security Bureau report, and
Conservatives leader Colin Craig is struggling to find a
With 48 per cent of the vote in a Herald on Sunday-Key
Research poll last month, the National Party is well ahead of
Labour. But Labour has the prospect of two or three coalition
partners (the Greens, Mana and perhaps NZ First) which,
combined, could give the centre-left more than half the seats
Supporters believe Hide, 57, can win Epsom as he has twice
before and bring at least one or two more Act MPs back with
him, enough to get a National-led government back over the
Joyce said yesterday: "I think it would be exaggerating it
describing it as a personal approach. It was more of a case
of, 'what are you up to?'
"It's up for Act, how they select their candidates," he
"In terms of my position as campaign chairman, we are
obviously looking for strong potential coalition partners. I
think we've got a range of options and the Prime Minister is
going to talk more about those early this year."
Writing in today's Herald on Sunday, Hide says he
hopes an Act candidate can again win Epsom and support a
National-led government, but, "I have concluded it can't be
"I have a project underway in Christchurch. It's keeping me
busy. We have a third baby due in July. I have new and
different challenges ahead," he says.
"I now don't have the necessary passion and enthusiasm to do
the job well. Yes, I loved it and I gave it everything I had.
And then some. But it's gone now."
Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer, seen by some as a future
mayoral contender, also ruled himself out of Act's Epsom
candidacy yesterday as he revealed he and his wife Kate have
a baby due the same month as the Hides. "I've been re-elected
for Orakei," he said.
"Kate and I are expecting a baby in July. It was nice to be
asked, but it's something I won't be contemplating this
However, Matthew Hooton, a well-known rightwing pundit, is
considering throwing his hat in the ring with Act candidacy
contenders Jamie Whyte and David Seymour.
Hooton commended Hide's decision. "In politics it never works
looking backwards," he said.
"You must always look forwards. What is important is that
there is a generational change in Act."
Hooton, once a National Party insider and former ministerial
adviser, told the Herald on Sunday this weekend that John
Key's administration was the "most interventionist
government" since Robert Muldoon lost power in 1984.
- Jonathan Milne of the Herald on Sunday