ACT Party leader David Seymour acknowledges both successes and shortcomings in the party’s candidate vetting process. He states that while they have done a commendable job in scrutinizing potential candidates, there have been instances where individuals with controversial viewpoints managed to pass through the screening.
One such incident involved Elaine Naidu Franz, the Rangitata candidate and 29th on the party list. She resigned after a year-old LinkedIn post emerged in which she likened the COVID-19 vaccine mandate to Nazi concentration camps. She questioned when unvaccinated individuals would be required to wear armbands and suggested the possibility of concentration camps and re-education centers. She also criticized Seymour’s approach to addressing public concerns.
In another development, candidate Darren Gilchrist, running for Waikato, expressed regret for social media posts that inaccurately connected drownings with COVID-19 vaccinations. He referred to the Prime Minister as “Jabcinda” and raised concerns about vaccine-related side effects. Gilchrist later disavowed his earlier comments, clarifying that he was merely posing questions and that his remarks did not reflect his genuine beliefs.
Seymour condemned these statements, characterizing them as “unacceptable.” He affirmed that both candidates in question were no longer affiliated with the party. He emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards in candidate selection and mentioned that the party conducts interviews, social media checks, and reference verifications as part of their vetting process.
The incident raised concerns about the party’s ability to attract candidates with extreme views. Seymour defended the party’s vetting procedures and expressed his regret that certain individuals had managed to bypass the screening. While he expressed satisfaction with the overall process, he acknowledged that it’s impossible to guarantee that no other controversial candidates might emerge in the future.
Seymour’s response to these incidents underlines his commitment to maintaining the credibility and reputation of the ACT Party. Despite challenges in candidate vetting, he affirms the party’s dedication to thorough scrutiny and emphasizes their ongoing vigilance in selecting suitable candidates.