National Party leader John Key stands by the electorate deal struck with the ACT party despite the criticism from within ACT's own ranks.[image:3658:third:right]
National is campaigning primarily for the party vote in the Auckland seat of Epsom to give ACT candidate John Banks a better chance of winning and, in return, ACT is not standing a candidate in the marginal seat of New Plymouth.
However two senior members of ACT's New Plymouth branch say National should be doing more to help the party.
Mr Key says those people may not have all the information about the deal, which was made with ACT leader Don Brash.
"There was a discussion about whether they would run candidates everywhere - it was something they raised.
"We said, 'look it wouldn't be unhelpful if you didn't run in New Plymouth'."
The National leader is still not saying if or when he might publicly endorse Mr Banks in Epsom - which is generally signalled by having a cup of tea together.
Brash accepts low rating reflects leadership
Dr Brash is satisfied both parties have honoured the deal and is reasonably confident Mr Banks will win Epsom.
But he is disappointed that recent polls put ACT on about 1% percent and on Morning Report, conceded it reflected his leadership.
"OK, I'm happy to accept that." he said. "The key question is, will National have a good centre-right party as an ally after the election ... and if so, which is the best partner for the National Party. There's no question about that, it's ACT."
Retaining Epsom may be vital for ACT, as most polls have the party well below the 5% threshold needed to gain seats in Parliament without winning an electorate.
Second ACT member criticises deal
On Tuesday, a second senior member of ACT's New Plymouth branch criticised the electorate deal. A day earlier, electorate chairman Morris Hey confronted National Party leader John Key to demand National drop out of the race for Epsom.
ACT list candidate Kevin Moratti says he would have been the party's New Plymouth electorate candidate and told Morning Report he regrets the deal with National.
"One would have thought morally that if they had even a verbal agreement with the leaders that they would have backed off pushing the party vote in New Plymouth and just gone for the electorate to give us a chance on the party vote."
Labour expecting tough fight[image:3657:third:right]
Labour Party candidate Andrew Little candidate says he expects to fight hard to win New Plymouth - the country's most marginal seat.
The National Party's Jonathan Young won the seat by 105 votes in 2008, replacing Labour's Harry Duynhoven who until then had been the MP there for 18 of 21 years.
Mr Little, a former union secretary and Labour president, says the seat is important to Labour and he is determined to win it back.
He says National is doing everything it can to retain the seat by pouring lots of money and resources into it but says he is also up for the fight, and Labour's New Plymouth branch is spending more money on this campaign than it has in the two previous elections.