Probably not welcomed with open arms

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

One person ACT probably doesn’t want to see return to the party in a Roger Douglas-style rise from the ashes is Donna Awatere-Huata, disgraced in a fraud scandal which cost ACT valuable time, energy and money from 2002 to 2005. From December 2002, ACT became embroiled in a drawn-out process to remove Awatere-Huata from Parliament, after fraud allegations against her surfaced. Finding that Awatere-Huata had deceived it, the caucus expelled Awatere-Huata in early 2003 and initiated a process to expel her from parliament altogether.

Not only did Awatere-Huata’s fraud (she was convicted in August 2005) represent a severe breach of trust within the caucus, the internal division was accentuated by two years’ of media headlines such as “Prebble and Huata to face off in courtroom” (Dominion-Post, in 2003). Moreover, the efforts to cut Awatere-Huata adrift took up valuable party time and energy, with Prebble reportedly becoming consumed by the case (see Rodney Hide, My Year of Living Dangerously (2007), pp. 175-176). Indeed, the Awatere-Huata case appeared to precipitate dissatisfaction with Prebble’s leadership, which broke out openly in early 2004.

The Herald on Sunday recently reported that Awatere-Huata was returning to the Waipareira Trust to work, but would not handle money. Perhaps ACT would be prepared to take her back, if she did not handle politics?!

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