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Ross Meurant, a New Zealander, has at various times gained public attention as a police officer, a businessman, a politician, and a political lobbyist. His career has been highly controversial.
Before entering parliament
Meurant first came to public attention during the 1981 Springbok Tour, when he led the "infamous" Red Squad, a unit of the New Zealand Police established to combat the large protests against the tour. The Red Squad was frequently accused of excessive use of force, and Meurant gained considerable public recognition. Meurant later criticised the New Zealand Police for not taking a sufficiently strong stance against the protestors.
As a National MP
Later, Meurant entered politics, standing as the National Party candidate for Hobson in the 1987 elections. He was successful. His maiden speech in Parliament caused further controversy, with Meurant alleging that Maori radicals were planning to overthrow the government.
Meurant had a troubled relationship with his National Party colleagues, and accused them of being too liberal and politically correct. In particular, Meurant opposed the National Party's policy towards Maori, who he said were being given too many privileges. He particularly opposed Doug Graham's proposal to establish a fund for the "full and final" settlement of Treaty of Waitangi grievances. Meurant also created controversy in 1990 for introducing South African property developers to New Zealand timber suppliers, a violation of the general policy against encouraging trade with South Africa while apartheid continued.
By September 1994, Meurant's relationship with the National Party leadership had decayed to the point where his departure from the party was almost inevitable. The Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, appears to have believed that Meurant's resignation from National would be a blessing, not a curse, although was still keen to retain Meurant's support in votes of confidence and supply. Bolger eventually arranged with Meurant that Meurant would keep his governmental post (Parliamentary Undersecretary for Agriculture) if he continued to back the government after his departure.
Right of Centre / Conservatives
Meurant, upon leaving National, established a new party known as Right of Centre. This party was based around Meurant's deeply conservative views. In May 2005, Meurant strongly criticised Maori protests at the Moutoa Gardens in Wanganui. In June, Meurant was joined by another dissident National MP, the anti-pornography crusader Trevor Rogers.
In September, Meurant was dismissed as Parliamentary Undersecretary for Agriculture when he refused to resign a directorship of Prok Bank, a Russian-owned bank registered in the Pacific Islands. Bolger argued that this directorship of a private company was incompatible with holding public office as a Parliamentary Undersecretary, and when Meurant refused to resign the directorship, Bolger sacked him. This caused tensions between National and Right of Centre to increase even further, but as Right of Centre still regarded National as better than any of the alternatives, it continued to support the government.
In February 1996, Meurant began to come into conflict with his own party (now renamed the Conservatives), objecting to the policies of both his officials and his fellow MP, Trevor Rogers. After considerable acrimony, Meurant quit the party, becoming an independent. He is believed to have considered joining New Zealand First, but either decided against it or was rejected. In August, Meurant was infuriated by Jim Bolger's apology for the government's behaviour during the Springbok Tour, further alienating him from any potential allies. In the 1996 elections, Meurant contested the seat of Rodney, but came fifth.
After leaving parliament
After leaving Parliament, Meurant stood several times for various local political offices, including the mayoralty of Rodney and the Rodney seat on the Auckland Regional Council . In 2002, he briefly appeared in the media again when was found guilty of minor assault, traffic offences, and impersonating a police officer.
In 2004, Meurant was involved in yet another controversy, this time surrounding two of his employers, Winston Peters (a politician) and Suminovich Fisheries (a large fishing company). Meurant acted as an advisor to both. There had been a certain amount of speculation about the ties between Peters and Suminovich, with allegations being made that Peters was giving improper political support to Suminovich. Meurant became involved when Yvonne Dossetter, a former partner of Meurant, signed an affidavit alleging that Meurant had received a large sum of money from Suminovich Fisheries, prompting accusations of corruption. Meurant eventually resigned from his advisory role to Peters, saying that his employment with both Peters and Suminovich "may be perceived" as a conflict of interest.
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