Banks has no veto on what I say: Brash

Don Brash
Don Brash
Act leader Don Brash has dismissed suggestions John Banks is vetting his speeches as "garbage'' after claims he ditched a speech on welfare at Mr Banks' insistence.

Mr Banks, Act's Epsom candidate, said on TV3`s The Nation that he had seen some of Dr Brash's speeches and "told him he needs to stay on the economy because he's best qualified to talk on the economy''.

He was speaking in response to a question about whether he had vetoed a speech by Dr Brash on welfare.

Mr Banks wouldn't confirm he had vetoed a specific speech, but said: "There's nothing wrong with giving speeches on welfare but Don doesn't have experience talking on welfare.''

Last month, the two had a disagreement after Dr Brash publicly advocated decriminalising cannabis without advising Mr Banks, who is strongly opposed to such a stand.

Yesterday, Dr Brash said that while Mr Banks had "encouraged'' him to talk about the economy, he hadn't tried to stop him covering other topics, and Dr Brash himself acknowledged he was not an expert on welfare.

The only planned speech on welfare had been due to be delivered in August. A draft was circulated, but before it was discussed, a decision was made to speak about property rights instead.

Dr Brash also said he believed Epsom voters would select Mr Banks, despite a poll in the Herald on Sunday and leaked internal National polls showing National's Paul Goldsmith had the lead. The Herald on Sunday- Key Research poll showed just under 33 per cent would vote for Mr Goldsmith and just under 19 per cent for Mr Banks. However, Dr Brash said about 42 per cent were undecided.

"As Mr Banks has said, the Epsom electorate is deeply National for 364 days a year but one day every three years, they vote strategically for Act.''

Today, Act is expected to announce the "mystery female'' on its party list _ widely tipped as Catherine Isaac. It's also expected to move the list candidates up one placing after the late withdrawal of MP John Boscawen.

Mr Boscawen will stand in Tamaki electorate to help maximise Act's vote, but won't return to Parliament.

Meanwhile, nominations to stand for National in the Tamaki seat close this Friday after MP Allan Peachey withdrew because of ill health.

It's understood Cabinet minister Paula Bennett has approached TV newsreader Suzy Clarkson (nee Aiken) to stand. Clarkson would not comment.

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said yesterday that he was still considering seeking the nomination, but many people had advised him to stay on the council.

"I'm very conscious of the commitment I gave Orakei voters just 12 months ago... Walking away from that doesn't sit easily with me.''

- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald

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