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Heather Roy dumped as Act deputy

Published: 7:10AM Tuesday August 17, 2010 Source: ONE News/NewsTalk ZB/NZPA

First-term MP John Boscawen has been confirmed as the new deputy leader of the Act Party, after Heather Roy was dumped following a crisis caucus meeting this morning.

The meeting was called over Roy's attempt late last year to roll Rodney Hide as leader, after revelations of his use of perks for travel overseas with his partner.

Boscawen will replace Roy as Minister of Consumer Affairs, and will also take Rodney Hide's associate commerce portfolio. Hide will take the associate education portfolio.

Hide said in a press statement that the change of deputy leader and the reshuffle of portfolios were agreed this morning by the Act Board, before he spoke to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister subsequently advised the Governor-General to accept Roy's resignation from ministerial office.

At the press conference Hide repeatedly refused to say why she was axed, he simply said a vote was taken and she lost. He says Roy has been given two weeks off to reflect on her position. Watch Hide stonewall the media at the press conference here.

However NZPA understands the party is split into factions and Roy lost the position after again trying to rally party sentiment against Hide.

Late last year she and Sir Roger Douglas unsuccessfully sought to challenge Hide's leadership. Hide said his leadership was not challenged on this occasion, with the sole focus on the deputy but he would not say why.

"I'm not prepared to comment on any issues, they were all well canvassed in the caucus and that's where it remains," Hide said.

"The caucus made a decision that John Boscawen should be deputy leader."

As part of the reshuffle Act dropped its involvement in the associate defence portfolio to focus on what is says are core Act issues, most notably education.

Act has only five MPs, and would not be in parliament but for Hide winning the Epsom electorate in the 2008 election.

The party won only 3.65% of the vote, below the 5% threshold required to win seats in parliament without an electorate.

Hide, and Roy before her ousting, are ministers in the National-led government.

Prime Minister John Key said today he would not have Sir Roger Douglas as a minister, which effectively guaranteed Boscawen the role.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Phil Goff said Act was factionalised and in disarray and Hide should front about the reasons for the demotion.

"Heather Roy is gone because John Key has decided to back Rodney Hide. He is probably one of the last people in the country to do so... If people are in the public eye and are elected by the public, the public have a right to know why they have been sacked and should be told."

Boscawen will be sworn into Cabinet tomorrow.