New Zealand Liberal Party (1992)

New Zealand Liberal Party (1992)

The New Zealand Liberal Party founded in 1992 (not to be confused with the original Liberal Party or the 1962 Liberal Party) was a splinter group of the National Party.

The Liberal Party was founded by Gilbert Myles and Hamish MacIntyre, two dissident National MPs. Myles and McIntyre were opponents of the economic reforms (dubbed "Ruthanasia") promoted by Minister of Finance Ruth Richardson, believing that they were harmful to society. As a result of their objections, Myles and McIntyre fell out with their National Party colleagues, and eventually decided to break away. After a short time as independents, they established the Liberal Party.

The new organisation was plagued by organisational difficulties, and neither Myles not MacIntyre — both first-term MPs — had much political experience. Not long after the party was established, Myles and McIntyre opted to join the Liberals to the newly formed Alliance party. Although the Alliance was considerably more left-wing than the Liberals, it was emerging as the most significant political group to oppose Ruth Richardson's policies — the leader of the Alliance, Jim Anderton, had quit his own Labour Party out of opposition to Roger Douglas, an ideological ally of Richardson.

In 1993, however, a more prominent dissident within the National Party, Winston Peters, also quit. Although it was briefly considered that a pact might be formed between the Alliance and Peters, the two proved incompatible, and Peters established the New Zealand First party. At the time when Myles and McIntyre had split from National, they had entertained hopes that Peters (and possibly Michael Laws or Cam Campion) would join them, and were therefore disappointed at the failure of talks between Peters and the Alliance. The possibility of leaving the Alliance and merging with New Zealand First was discussed, but deep divisions emerged within the party about this possibility. In the end, Gilbert Myles opted to leave the Liberals and join New Zealand First. MacIntyre remained with the Liberals for some time afterwards, however he did not enter Parliament again and following the 1996 election where he was a list candidate for the Alliance, retired from politics.

In 1994, leadership of the Liberals fell to Frank Grover, who was elected to Parliament as an Alliance list MP in the 1996 election. The Liberal Party itself, however, was eventually dissolved, with its few members simply becoming members of the Alliance as a whole. Frank Grover eventually rejected the Alliance, and shortly before the 1999 election, defected to the Christian Heritage Party, giving it its first seat in Parliament. Grover did not secure re-election, however.

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