As reported yesterday, five candidates of the DemocracyNZ party tendered their resignations over the weekend.
Four of them, Dr. Matt Shelton, Lee Smith, Kirsten Murfitt and Steve Cranston released a statement this morning outlining the reasons for the resignations. The statement was shared on Murfitt’s Twitter account.
DTNZ has reproduced the statement in full below.
It is with deep regret that we, being Matt Shelton, Kirsten Murfitt and Lee Smith, have resigned as candidates and members of DemocracyNZ. This follows its board firing fellow candidate Steve Cranston on Saturday, 17 June 2023, after he informed other candidates of the need to address a number of issues. The aim of our desired meeting was to achieve:
- full transparency of the members of the board and leadership.
- change in party culture to stem the outflow of good people;
- a plan to delegate more responsibility and grow the party infrastructure; and
- clarity on, and unwavering commitment to, policy principles and post-election strategy.
The next election is historic, and truly will determine the future of our nation. We lack confidence that the party’s leadership recognises the serious jeopardy and urgency of NZ’s situation.
We all feel an intense responsibility to those who donate their hopes, money and time.
We are all known in the freedom community for standing for truth, and we asked for reassurance that the party will deliver on its’ founding principles. We did not receive any such assurances prior to our resignation, and the dismissal of Steve Cranston has further elevated our concerns for DemocracyNZ.
We assure you that the decision to leave has been extremely hard. We have continued to campaign for months even as we tried to resolve the issues. Unfortunately, the Board has been unwilling to address the issues raised and make the changes that many of the candidates and volunteers are asking for.
We took a considered approach to date, writing three letters to the leader, dating back to 19 February 2023 followed by several meetings in front of board members. We also tried to organise an in-person Hui with all the candidates and board to team build and work through issues. We had arranged a venue and sponsorship of meals. While Matt King initially agreed to this, the leadership supervened, and the Hui was cancelled.
Between us we have extensive experience in governance, business, law, management, and political candidacy, and we brought to bear a pragmatic, reasonable and patient approach to helping DemocracyNZ achieve its stated aims. Without going into detail our concerns revolved around:
- members of the board and a shadow leader which were not disclosed to us prior to us signing up as candidates;
- the board’s recent proposal to remove the entrenchment of the Bill of Rights from DemocracyNZ’s policy. The mechanics of the Bill of Rights policy were the concept of a former judge;
- the hemorrhaging of experienced and motivated members and volunteers due to the culture of DemocracyNZ. Many of those that have left the party are bitter about the way that they have been treated and going out of their way to damage DemocracyNZ’s brand;
- the systemic issues that threatened the party and the board refuses to address and resolve these issues. We have been told that the board will no longer be transparent with its decisions and that if we do not like the way the party is conducted then we should resign. The culture of the party does not give us confidence that the party will be successful at implementing changes if we are taking into parliament.
We do not agree that the issues we identified were normal, and they risk the party’s ability to grow and deliver. We have learnt, if we didn’t know already, that politics is a cut-throat business, but it is a recipe for disaster for us if DemocracyNZ operations and culture are not congruent with the promise of a genuine new and exciting political party and breed of politician.
We worked incredibly hard promoting a party that we believed in.
We will pay back any funds that we have spent from the donations which are held with DemocracyNZ. We will pay these funds into DemocracyNZ’s bank account. If you wish to request a refund of your donation, we suggest that you contact the party directly.
We will continue to work tirelessly to represent and protect the people, especially those who have been rendered voiceless. We will consider all options – political, legal, community etc. – to reclaim our beautiful country for our descendants, and the control of our destinies, in the face of radical ideology.
We thank all the volunteers that have given their valuable time to support us.
Matt Shelton, Kirsten Murfitt, Steve Cranston and Lee Smith.