TOP to fight next election without Morgan

The Opportunities Party (Top) also wants regulations \"to prevent existing tenants being priced...
Gareth Morgan will continue as leader while the party considers who will be at the forefront of the next election campaign. Photo: Peter McIntosh

The Opportunities Party (TOP) will contest the next election but founder Gareth Morgan will not be leading it.

The party said it will continue its campaign for best practice policy to address the economic and social challenges facing New Zealand.

Morgan says that after extensive discussions within the ranks of Top, the party is committed to building on its strong support base from the 2017 campaign to give New Zealanders a ''real, progressive choice at the ballot box whenever the next election might be".

''While there are some signs of progress from the new government, it is still not addressing the fundamental issues facing the country and has kicked for touch on major areas of concern such as genuine tax reform to boost productivity and fairness, real environmental progress, and overhauling our outdated welfare system," said Dr Morgan.

Senior party members were heartened that in just 10 months, more than 60,000 people voted for Top at the September election.

The party said it was focused on at least doubling that figure to ensure Top had a voice in the next parliament.

Morgan will continue as leader while the party considers who will be at the forefront of the next election campaign.

"The fact is, while I remain committed to helping fund and coordinate Top's evidence-based policies, I have no desire to lead the party in Parliament.

''With a strong group of candidates and supporters it is proper to pass that torch on to someone else prior to the next election," said Morgan.

Morgan has been a polarising figure who has been the target of public condemnation over a series of comments that were seen as insensitive and an embarrassment to the party.

After the death of the Prime Minister's cat, he said called the owners of wandering pets a curse that showed "callous disregard" for the country's wildlife.

He recently wrote an email effectively firing Top candidate Jenny Condie: "Please just resign from the party - you're a pain in the arse."

Morgan admitted that he had rubbed some of the public the wrong way with his reaction to "people serving up idiot wind".

"I'm pretty direct and I don't tolerate fools," he told RNZ's Morning Report.

"On every subject there's an opinion, and there's an informed opinion. And the two are not the same thing. When I'm faced with an issue I know nothing about, I actually shut up. But when I'm faced with the public, some of whom will run on empty, on and on, I give it to them. That will not change. I am who I am.

"Charm has a big role to play in politics. We saw that with Jacinda, when 20% of the population moved in 24 hours, so that obviously requires a slightly different skill-set. Combine that with the fact that I don't want to go to Parliament anyway, and it's a no-brainer."

He said there were a number of people interested in spreading the message of the party as leader, including Geoff Simmons - who will resign as deputy leader.

"But his hat may well be in the ring for the leadership position at the end of the year," Morgan said.

Morgan has poured over $2 million of his own money into the party, which won 62,261 votes at the election and 2.4% of the vote - not enough to win any seats in Parliament.

He said the new Government had done well on its education policies, such as axing national standards, but its tax working group was a "sham".

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