Bob 'the builder' switches support to ACT
Published: 10:18AM Thursday June 02, 2011 Source: Fairfax
Former National MP Bob "the Builder" Clarkson is to defect to the ACT party.
Clarkson said he was disillusioned with the new foreshore and seabed legislation, which restores access to the courts to seek recognition of customary title.
Along with 12 other senior party members, who have been having "covert meetings" around Tauranga, he invited new ACT leader Don Brash to speak at a public meeting on Tuesday night.
About 120 people filled in forms to join ACT, he said. He will rescind his National Party membership, which he has held for almost 40 years, "in the next week" and join ACT.
Clarkson beat Winston Peters in the 2005 election, taking a seat Peters had held for more than 20 years.
During the election campaign, harassment allegations surfaced which saw him grab and talk about his crotch to a female reporter.
"Why has National deviated from its original objectives and gone all haywire?" he said yesterday.
"If we don't vote for National, who the hell are we going to vote for? We can't vote for Winston, he can't be trusted. We aren't going to vote for Labour or the Greens. We were in a bit of a quandary and then Don took over and that was like a bolt from the blue.
"National needs a helping hand in Parliament and a bit of guidance. We still want to see National in there."
Clarkson was not planning to be a candidate for ACT.
He stepped down after three years in Parliament. His short political career was steeped in controversy - he made a number of comments that offended Muslims and gay rights groups.
And he was forced to apologise after yelling out "pay your bill" during debate over the case of a woman who died because she could not afford electricity charges.
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