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Divide between National MPs widens

1 February 2005

Divide between National MPs widens

The resignation of Katherine Rich as National's welfare spokesperson is further evidence of a deep ideological split among National's senior MPs over the direction of the National Party, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Having failed to convince Dr Brash to take a more positive and progressive approach to National's welfare policy, Katherine Rich is now stepping aside to ensure she doesn't suffer the collateral damage of an election defeat," Steve Maharey said.

"Ms Rich is among of a group of National's youngest and brightest MPs who are clearly at odds with Don Brash's approach outlined at Orewa last week - a mixture of ageless platitudes and failed policy ideas dredged up from the 1990s."

The group, who it is understood include finance spokesperson John Key and senior whip Simon Power, tried to dissuade Brash from taking a hard line on welfare policies in his Orewa speech last week.

"What Ms Rich and her colleagues know is that you can't run a country on last century's policies. They know that the debate is between policies that create opportunity and policies that drive up welfare by failing to create opportunity.

"Katherine Rich's resignation today, along with Georgina Te Heu Heu's resignation as Maori Affairs spokesperson following last year's Orewa speech, and Lynda Scott's resignation from Parliament, send an increasingly clear message to National MPs - disagree with Brash and you're gone by lunchtime.

"The MPs that are most likely to lead the National part into the future have clearly chosen to keep distance themselves from Brash's hard-right approach ahead of the election."

ENDS

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