We need more MPs

19/01/2021

Alex Braae says it won’t be popular but  we need more MPs.

He’s right on both counts.

When MMP was introduced the South Island was given a maximum of 16 electorates. The island’s population was divided by that to set the number of people in each seat by that amount, plus or minus 5%.

Whether that was too many people is arguable but there is no doubt too many of the provincial and Maori electorates were far too big geographically.

The biggest, Clutha Southland, covered an areas of 37, 378 square kilometres. Contrast that with the smallest, Epsom, which covers just 20 square kilometres.

Clutha Southland  got a little bit smaller when Queenstown was put into it put it. It was renamed Southland and lost a wee bit more in area when electorate boundaries were redrawn after the last census. But it, its neighbour Waitaki, that electorate’s neighbour West Coast Tasman, and Kaikoura to the east are still far bigger than is fair to the MP trying to service it and their constituents. So are the bigger North Island and Maori electorates.

It’s now not only the area that is covered by these electorates that is the problem. The population has grown by more than a million people since MMP meaning every electorate MP has to service considerably more constituents.

Then there’s the problem of less proportionality.

The increase in the number of electorates as the North Island grew faster than the South has led to fewer list seats.

Unless there is a change, census by census, the number of electorates will increase and the number of list seats decrease, until there are no list MPs at all.

The answer to that is not fewer electorates.

Some already cover too big an area and all have a lot more people than when the formula was devised before the 1996 election.

The only alternative is more MPs – both electorate and list.

Braae is right that won’t be popular with the people, possibly a majority,  who think we already have too many politicians.

It would almost certainly fail if put to a referendum.

The government has the votes to pass any changes by itself but a constitutional reform like this shouldn’t go through that way,

It would be much better to be agreed by a super majority in parliament and if the issue was handled carefully in a non-partisan way it could be.


Too few seats in South Island

21/11/2019

The Boundaries Commission has announced proposed changes to electorate boundaries:

Where possible the current boundaries have been retained to minimise the number of people affected by electorate boundary and name changes. Of the 71 existing electorates, 36 are unchanged. The adjustments in other electorates reflect changes in population since 2014 when the boundaries were last reviewed,” says Representation Commission chair Judge Craig Thompson.

The biggest areas of change are in the Auckland region, Christchurch, and Otago and Southland. . .

North Island general electorates

  • Rodney is redrawn to include Dairy Flat and Coatesville, and renamed Whangaparāoa
  • Helensville is extended into Northland, Rodney (now Whangaparāoa) and Upper Harbour, and loses the Waitakere Ranges to New Lynn
  • The addition of population to New Lynn from the north means changes are also required to Mt Roskill, Maungakiekie, Manukau East, and Manurewa
  • Flat Bush is created by drawing population from the existing electorates of Hunua, Manurewa and Papakuraand includes Wattle Downs and Takanini
  • Population from Waikato is added to Hunua which is renamed Port Waikato. Adjustments are also made to the boundaries of Waikato with Coromandel, Hamilton West and Taupō
  • Adjustments are also made to the boundaries of Whangarei and Bay of Plenty

South Island general electorates

  • Brightwater is moved from Nelson to West Coast-Tasman
  • Selwyn is redrawn and no longer includes Banks Peninsula. Adjustments are also made to Ilam, Wigram, Port Hills (renamed Banks Peninsula), Christchurch East and Rangitata
  • Clutha-Southland gains the Alexandra and Clyde area from Waitaki
  • Otago Peninsula is moved from Dunedin South to Dunedin North, and South Otago is added to Dunedin South from Clutha-Southland
  • Winton and The Catlins are added to Invercargill from Clutha-Southland.

Few if any of these changes are unexpected.

In the south, Dunedin South might be regarded as a little more marginal, Invercargill will probably be a bit bluer and Dunedin North will still be red.

Clutha Southland and Waitaki will cover a little less area, still be larger than some countries, and still be blue.

Banks Peninsula will be a bit bluer than the Port Hills one it replaces.

Māori electorates

  • Tāmaki Makaurau gains an area around Te Atatū South from Te Tai Tokerau and an area in East Manurewa from Hauraki Waikato
  • A minor adjustment between Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Te Tai Tonga is made in Naenae.

Names of electorates

Four electorate name changes are proposed: Rodney to Whangaparāoa, Hunua to Port Waikato, Rimutaka to Remutaka and Port Hills to Banks Peninsula.

The proposals create one new general electorate bringing the total number of electorates to 72: 16 general seats in the South Island, 49 in the North and seven Maori seats.

That will mean one less list seat – 48, down 12 from the 60 when MMP was introduced.

The number of seats in parliament is set at 120 (unless there’s an overhang) and the number of South Island seats is set at 16.

After every census the South’s population is divided by 16 to set the number of people per seat plus or minus 10%. The North’s population is growing faster than the South’s which is why it keeps getting an extra seat. That is likely to continue and it enough more people opt for the Maori roll rather than the general one, another Maori roll would result in the loss of another list seat.

Politik asks if there’s too many South Island seats.

There are not, there are too few.

Clutha Southland and Waitaki, the biggest and third biggest general electorates are getting a little smaller but are still far too big geographically and proposed changes will make West Coast Tasman, the second biggest general electorate, even bigger. They’re all bigger than all but one of the Maori electorates, Te Tai Tonga, which covers the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and a bit of Wellington.

The difficulties of servicing electorates as large as these mean no matter how good their MPs are, they can’t possibly give their constituents the same attention that those with smaller electorates do.

If MMP’s proportionality is to be maintained, the number of MPs will have to be increased and I’d argue for at least one more South Island electorate to make the bigger ones a little more manageable.

You can find existing a proposed boundaries on a map here.


Hamish Walker’s maiden speech

15/11/2017

Hamish Walker, Clutha Southland MP delivered his maiden speech yesterday.

Mr Speaker, it is the greatest privilege to be standing before you today as a Member of Parliament, elected by the people of Clutha-Southland, to represent their views, hopes and dreams for their region and for New Zealand.

People in Clutha-Southland are pioneering, hard-working and community-focused.

The rest of New Zealand can learn a lot from Clutha-Southlanders.

It’s a place where people still look out for each other, people still know each other, and most importantly people still talk to each other whether it be across the fence or in the supermarket aisle.

It’s where I regularly see carefree kids riding their bikes around their neighbourhood, and where local people still rally together to support a good cause.

I intend to be a strong voice in Parliament for Clutha-Southland.

I believe in the core National Party values of strong families, caring communities, personal responsibility, individual freedom and choice.

These values form the basis of my own philosophy.

I was motivated to stand for Parliament by a desire to uphold these values.

I believe the government’s role is to get out of the way and let our people get ahead, and be rewarded for effort.

My experience in life has shown me that it is attitude and hard work that is the key to succeeding.

The Clutha-Southland electorate and previous forms has an extremely proud history of leadership and contribution to New Zealand over the years.

It has included:

The Honourable Adam Hamilton
The Right Honourable Peter Gordon
Sir Brian Talboys
Sir Robin Gray
and of course our Leader and former Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Bill English
I want to take this opportunity to thank Bill for his leadership, and to congratulate him on the policy development that he has led throughout his years in Parliament.

His social investment approach to complex social problems and its long term dividends for New Zealand makes him the most gutsy politician of his generation.

I’d also like to acknowledge current Mayors in my region – Jim Boult, Bryan Cadogan, Tracy Hicks, and Gary Tong.

These individuals stitch together the fabric of our Clutha-Southland communities and provide excellent leadership.

I look forward to working with them to progress the interests of our people.

Clutha-Southland doesn’t just produce some great people.

It is one of the most productive regions in New Zealand.

It is the largest general electorate in the country, it runs from just south of Dunedin to the north of Invercargill, and spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea.

I have learned that many people in Clutha-Southland are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

You cannot pull the wool over the eyes of a Clutha-Southlander, even if it was grown and shorn there.

It is an honour to represent an area that is part of my heritage and identity.

I am proud of my established family history in Clutha-Southland.

My great, great, great grandfather, John Barr, was a Balclutha businessman who leased the Government ferry across the Clutha river, and built the first store and bakery in the township.

Today, I have family members throughout Clutha-Southland.

My late grandfather, Ronald Walker, often spoke of how it is ultimately up to the individual to determine the path they take in life.

The seeds of working hard and taking personal responsibility for oneself were sown early in my childhood by my grandfather.

He helped put hundreds of Southlanders through university running the Otago University extension program for a number of years and also helped establish the Young Nats in Southland in the 1940s.

And I better not forget to say hello to my nana Ngaire who is watching from Invercargill today.

My urban-raised father Alan, and rural-raised mother Barbara taught me that everyone deserved a chance, and that we all should contribute back to our community.

I’d like to thank my father, who continues to dedicate his life to helping others.

Thank you, Dad.

I’d also like to thank my mother who has sacrificed so much to raise me and my siblings.

Thank you for all that you do Mum.

If you were a taxi driver, you would be a millionaire by now given the fetching and carrying that you have done over the years.

I’m sure you would have done almost as many kilometres in your car 20 years ago as the Clutha-Southland MP at the time.

I respect my urban heritage.

This will hold me accountable to the needs and concerns of the urban areas within the electorate.

Encouraging growth in small towns and responding to the challenges of growth in larger towns will be one of many issues that I face.

I also have an obligation to my rural heritage which will hold me accountable to the needs and concerns of the farming communities within the electorate.

I have many fond memories working on my grandparents farm during my teenage years

Coming from a family with four siblings, I learned early to listen to those around me and to respect their views.

I also learned that working with others achieves more than working independently, a lesson that I have put into practice throughout my life.

I was born and raised in Dunedin and attended Māori Hill Primary School and John McGlashan College.

Like many young people, I wasn’t too interested in learning.

To complicate things, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 14.

Going from leading a normal life to half a dozen injections a day was tough.

I eventually left school early and got a job.

I understand first-hand that some people may not achieve on a typical educational timeline, but they still can succeed in education and contribute to their community.

My early education and health experiences have made me passionate about these areas, especially in regard to our youth.

I didn’t experience typical school success for many reasons.

Perhaps an alternative learning environment may have suited my learning style.

That’s why charter schools are vitally important, and yet another achievement of our previous National-led government.

I was the kid who some might argue, ‘slipped through the cracks’.

But I still managed to experience success, and I want to help ensure youth have meaningful education options with relevance to the real world.

My first role after leaving school was as a commercial fisherman.

I look back on my time as a fisherman with pride.

It was my first real experience of what hard work is all about.

Long hours on the boat were challenging.

I also learned the importance of the primary sector to New Zealand.

It’s important we give these producers every possible chance of success.

In addition to my fishing days, I have worked as a voluntary community patrol member, and later as a Police jailor.

I always had a desire to become a Police Officer, but was unable to apply to Police College because of my diabetes.

This was a huge disappointment for me, but it taught me that when one door closes, another opens and you need to be willing to move on and learn from life’s lessons.

After a few other jobs I decided to study for a degree in accounting.

Instead of incurring a significant amount of debt by taking out a student loan, I decided to work in the mines of Western Australia to save some money.

Six months of hard work allowed me to save enough to pay the fees.

It was during this time I also took up refereeing rugby.

A few years later I made my first class debut which is achieved by less than one per cent of rugby referees.

Rugby refereeing is a lot like life.

To learn, you need to listen.

To succeed, you need to simplify your processes and focus on just one or two key issues that have the greatest effect.

In business, you also need to focus on the one or two things that matter.

Rugby refereeing was the perfect training ground for politics.

Graduating with an accounting degree was also a huge confidence builder for me.

I had come a long way from dropping out of school.

Looking back, I know I wouldn’t have gained the skills I have now if I had gone straight to university from school.

I needed those years to mature.

Since then I have set up, franchised and sold my own business, worked at a big 4 accounting firm and have been a business adviser to others and served on the Boards of the Otago Rugby Union and the local Lotteries Distribution Committee.

As someone who has benefited from our public health system, I am a firm believer in primary care being easily accessible, close to where people live.

Travel times can impact on primary care in rural areas.

Failure to gain early treatment or intervention from primary care providers can add huge costs for the New Zealand taxpayer.

I will fight hard to maintain services in the electorate, and fight for fair funding of rural health.

I first joined the National Party several years ago after advice from John Key to stand in a red seat, cut my teeth and learn.

I have always been inspired by others to do something significant, to make a difference – because life is short.

I was fortunate to have known Jonathan Keogh, who was tragically killed by a repeat drunk driver.

Jono’s legacy inspires me to make a difference and his name will never be forgotten.

I commend Jono’s sister Megan MacPherson and his family for directly helping to change drink-driving laws.

I, like many others, miss Jono and he is often in my thoughts.

There are multiple challenges ahead.

Right now in Clutha-Southland, we should not be cutting off the hands that literally feed us, from farmers in Gore, to hospitality workers in Queenstown.

The government must ensure immigration settings allow business owners in Queenstown and primary producers across Otago and Southland to have the workforce to process goods.

Clutha-Southland has around two per cent of the population and produces over 15 per cent of the country’s GDP.

We need to keep our workers to produce the goods from the region, and to keep the people flowing through our small towns like Lumsden, Lawrence, and Nightcaps.

Our immigrant workforce contributes to our diversity and keeps our towns afloat.

I recently visited a rest home in Tapanui, and asked a 96-year-old gentlemen and Returned Serviceman for advice.

He told me to continue to learn.

Learning indeed is for life, and is life-long.

My biggest hope is to make Clutha-Southland proud of the contributions I can make to our country.

I hope that by taking this gentleman’s advice, I can achieve this.

I promise to listen to my constituents, and I thank them for the advice they have given me to date.

There are many people I’d like to pay tribute to for being in my life, and although I cannot name them all, you know who you are.

I want to thank the people who have enabled me to stand here before you today.

To the more than 1000 Clutha-Southland National Party members, thank you for placing trust and confidence in me.

To Bridgette Smith, Margo Hishon, Rachel Bird, Tim Shiels, Richard Soper and the rest of the executive and campaign team, your dedication to the party is energizing and the sheer distances you have to drive for meetings is remarkable. The electorate is in safe hands in your care.

To Mark Patterson, great to see you here as a List MP.

To Kate Hazlett, Andrew Hunt, Roger Bridge, Alastair Bell, president Peter Goodfellow and the rest of the regional executive and National Party board, thank you for your hard work.

To the Young Nats for the weekend campaigning in Queenstown, you all rock. I learnt a good lesson… not to start days that involve the Young Nats in Queenstown before 11am.

Grant McCullum for the phone calls offering advice, thank you.

Michelle Boag, your wise words are really appreciated.

Eric Roy, thank you for the good solid advice in a Southland way.

National’s strong result is a tribute to you all.

To the ladies who run my offices …. And life…. Rebecca, Paula and Alison thank you for keeping me going.

Sarah Dowie, Mike Woodhouse and Jacqui Dean, Team Southern let’s go!

To Donna & David, thank you for being here today.

Penny, you’re an inspiration to me and words cannot express how much your support for me throughout the selection process, campaign and since being elected has meant. I wouldn’t be able to do this without your support.

I admire the contribution you make to society in your role as a clinical psychologist and yes, you often remind me you did beat me to Parliament as you were Eric Roy’s Youth MP.

Mr Speaker, the privilege of serving in this Parliament is one that comes to very few.

I didn’t come here to eat my lunch, nor to “be” a Member of Parliament.

I came here to DO things as a Member of Parliament, to help make change that benefits all New Zealanders, and to help to enhance the lives of the people of Clutha Southland.

I will probably make mistakes in this House – I have made many already in my short life – but my respect for the Institution, my loyalty and my commitment are solid; my philosophy is honest and true, and my compassion is infinite.

I hope that everything I do in this Parliament, and in my time as a Member of this Parliament, is a tribute to those who have gone before me, those who have helped me and to those whom I love, and who love me.

Thank you Mr Speaker.


Snow can’t stop the message

10/09/2017

Three years ago when Hamish Walker was campaigning for National in Dunedin South  he donned skis to continue door knocking when it snowed.

He’s now National’s Clutha Southland candidate and is showing he still won’t let snow stop the message:


Hamish Walker Nat candidate for Clutha Southland

16/08/2017

Hamish Walker has been selected as the National candidate for Clutha Southland.

Hamish served his apprenticeship for the candidacy when he stood for National in Dunedin South three years ago. He won the all-important party vote and made inroads into the electorate vote.

He has shown he can work hard and won’t be taking anything for granted in earning the role as MP.

Update:

Hamish Walker has tonight been selected by local party members as National’s 2017 Clutha-Southland candidate.

Mr Walker, 32, lives in the Clutha-Southland electorate with his partner Penny and has a strong family history to the Clutha-Southland area. He currently works as a business advisor, specialising in strategy and governance.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity and am ready to hit the ground running,” Mr Walker says.

“Although National has had strong support from Clutha-Southland, I’m taking nothing for granted. I’ll be working incredibly hard to remind folks right across the electorate that our party is the only one that can be relied up on to keep delivering policies that benefit their families and businesses.

“While the opposition parties are constantly rearranging themselves and can’t seem to go a day without talking about another new tax they want, National is working to grow the economy, raise family incomes, build new infrastructure and deliver outstanding public services in a way that is affordable.

“Clutha-Southland will continue to get ahead while we have a strong, Bill English-led National Government that understands local concerns and can deliver. New Zealand has made great progress over the last few years, but we can’t take it for granted.

“An alternative Labour/Green/NZ First coalition with at least four new taxes would put all our hard-won gains at risk, and take Clutha-Southland backwards. Our families, farmers and businesses simply can’t afford this.

“The electorate is more determined than ever to keep National delivering for New Zealand, and I’m very grateful to the party for this opportunity.”

Biographical  notes: Hamish Walker

Hamish Walker, 32, was born in Dunedin. He currently lives in the Clutha-Southland electorate with his partner Penny. He has a strong family history to the Clutha-Southland area.

He is a successful business advisor, specialising in strategy and governance.

A graduate of Unitec Institute of Technology with a degree in Business, Hamish has subsequently worked as a senior consultant at an accountancy firm and in banking. He successfully established and sold a property management company in Auckland before returning to Dunedin in 2014 to stand for National in Dunedin South.

Additionally, Hamish has previously held roles as a commercial fisherman, police jailor, gold miner, mentor for youth living with diabetes, and former First Class Rugby Referee.

Hamish is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors, and serves on the Otago Rugby Board. He is also a member of the Otago/Southland Lotteries Committee.

He also plays the bagpipes.


Todd Barclay’s maiden speech

23/10/2014

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I am humbled to stand here to speak for the first time in this Chamber.

I am humbled by the sense of history, tradition, and culture. But I am also humbled as I look around, because from today I am part of this place.

It is a true honour to stand before you as the representative for Clutha-Southland.

We are proudly the largest general electorate in New Zealand. We embrace Southland, South Otago, West Otago, Fiordland, and the Greater Wakatipu. At 38,000 square kilometres, we’re almost the size of Switzerland.

I want to acknowledge and thank my family, friends, Clutha-Southland supporters who are here today, and former ministerial office colleagues, in particular Jamie Gray and Julie Ash.

Mr Speaker, congratulations to you on your re-appointment, and thank you for the strong voice you have provided for provincial New Zealand throughout your time in this House.

I wish to personally thank some very important people who are responsible for me standing here today:

Glenys Dickson, Tim Hurdle, Michelle Boag, and The Hon Roger Sowry – their wisdom, advice and sound, loyal counsel has guided me throughout my journey thus far.

My campaign team, under the leadership of Jeff Grant, John Wilson, and Glenys Dickson – we ran a spectacular campaign, and it was thanks to these fine people.

My electorate executive, under the leadership of Stuart Davies, Ailsa Smaill, Nigel Moore, and each of our loyal branch chairs and the Young Nats – thank you for all your hard work.

I would also like to congratulate my class of 2014 colleagues, all of whom I sincerely look forward to working with over the coming years.

But in particular, I want to pay special mention to my friend and previous colleague, Christopher Bishop – you ran a solid campaign, and I am truly glad to be working alongside you, once again.

Mr Speaker, while not growing up on a farm, I do come from a good Southland farming stock, and I hope to bring this down-to-earth approach to the House of Representatives.

Dating back to the early 1900’s, three generations on my mother’s side farmed sheep at South Hillend near Winton, and three generations on my father’s side were sheep farmers and trained race horses at Croydon, near Gore.

I was born in Gore, and my family moved to Dipton when I was about three. 

My parents had the 4 Square and mail run there, before moving back to Gore in time for my final year of primary school, and it was there where I completed the rest of my schooling.

I completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Wellington while working at Parliament, as an intern to Bill English, ministerial secretary to Gerry Brownlee, ministerial assistant briefly in the Prime Minister’s correspondence team – I think you were overseas at the time – and a political advisor to Hekia Parata.

I then moved to Auckland and worked in public relations and corporate affairs, before coming home when I won the selection.

My home, the electorate of Clutha-Southland stretches from Waihola and Taieri Mouth on the east coast to Milford Sound in the west.

Our people vary from the farmers and service providers in and around Tuatapere, Otautau, Winton, and Gore, Lawrence, Balclutha, and Milton. To the tourist operators in and around Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy,Te Anau, Manapouri, and the Catlins.

We also have innovators, entrepreneurs, and professionals engaged in business throughout the length and breadth of the electorate.

All of these communities have differing social needs and local issues – and deserve my unique representation.

Despite such a large number of the residents of Clutha-Southland living in our larger centres the major influence in the electorate remains decidedly rural. This is something not to be forgotten.

The primary sector is still the backbone of this country, and of our economy, and I look forward to making a strong contribution on the primary production select committee.

I consider Clutha-Southland particularly fortunate though, because in addition to our strong provincial foundation, we include a world-class tourism industry which plays a pivotal role in shaping our nation’s proposition to the World.

Queenstown’s unique – among other things, we’re incredibly lucky, that unlike many other parts of the country, our challenge is managing the pace of growth and development, not generating it.

Mr Speaker, I want to talk about the areas where I intend to make my main contribution.

There are three main areas that are, in my view, fundamental to future growth and prosperity in Otago and Southland. I intend to make a difference in these areas:

1.   The Primary Sector. As a region, we are heavily reliant on a strong, high quality and productive primary sector, and a savvy supporting service industry. Innovation and a drive to keep doing better is crucial in order to keep pace with a growing international demand.

2.   Second, in order to move forward, attracting and retaining more innovative, skilled and qualified workers down South is essential.  To achieve this, we need to systematically lift achievement at each point throughout the education pipeline.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Minister of Education, The Hon Hekia Parata. I strongly admire her relentless passion and conviction to bring out the very best in every teacher and school, and keeping our best teachers in the classroom, so that they in turn can bring out the very best in every Kiwi kid.

If you want an example of someone who is truly in politics for the right reason – she is that person. I look forward to joining you in this pursuit as a member of the education and science select committee.

Cause as you say – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

3.   And my third interest is trade. This is what motivates and drives our demand for primary sector growth and workforce enhancement.

We need to be constantly looking for opportunities to expand our export market base, which is why concluding a strong, dynamic TPP is critically important for the prosperity of my electorate and the country.

And as the people of Queenstown understand only too well, tourism is an important element.

New Zealand’s reputation and the experiences our visitors have while they’re here plays an important role in how the world perceives our country.

It helps that we have an outstanding Minister of Tourism, who understands the strength and dynamism of our tourism proposition and is leading the charge in attracting more and more high-value tourists.

My electorate’s tourism offering opens some pretty big doors and paves the way for a number of flow-on trade and economic benefits we as a country enjoy.

If I can contribute in any way to the delivery of tangible gains across primary industries, education, trade, and tourism and how they interact and intersect, during my time in this place, I’ll be proud to have helped enhance my region, and our country’s ability to grow its economic potential.

That is why provincial people deserve a strong voice in Parliament and in Government, on an equal footing to the representation enjoyed by those living in New Zealand’s larger centres.

I believe the key to the strength and success of the National Party in the future is to ensure that our party’s two core, indeed at times competing followings – urban-liberal-leaning New Zealand  and rural-conservative-leaning New Zealand – both continue to enjoy strong representation on an equal footing  in the highest ranks of our Party.

Because it’s important that we remain balanced in our views, realistic in our expectations, and resonant with middle New Zealand, that’s why I believe that our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, John Key and Bill English, make an exceptional, complementary team.

Mr Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, when I stand before you in this House, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings.

I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded, and informed legislator.

Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, when I stand before you in your Caucus, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings. I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded and informed member of your Caucus.

Parliamentary colleagues, for those of you unaccustomed to the Deep South,  let me introduce you to the people I humbly represent:

The people of Clutha-Southland exemplify the best of New Zealand. Of course, I would say that!

We are conservative yet innovative, astute yet modest, quiet yet ambitious, hardworking yet social. We are proud New Zealanders.

Our values are straight forward, straight talking, uncomplicated in our views, accountable to our actions, solid in our beliefs.

My values are simple. They are based on personal responsibility, free enterprise, and choice.

These are the values I will represent in our Parliament, Mr Speaker.

As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said: “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous, and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.”

For my part, I believe that freedom and choice are fundamental rights of all New Zealanders. But we, as individuals, need to be responsible for the choices we make and for the actions we take.

Mr Speaker, I promise my constituents that as their MP, I will act in order to preserve those values that they hold dear. And let there be no misunderstanding, I will act, and it begins today.

I understand that my leadership as a representative requires much more than acting with no conscience.  I genuinely believe in my electorate’s values, and believe in my people. I will represent my constituency honestly and strongly.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

I had the privilege of working for Gerry over Pike River and for part of the Canterbury Earthquakes. Gerry, it is your true selflessness, humble wisdom, and unconditional loyalty to the people of Canterbury that I believe, will see the history books mark you down as one of New Zealand’s greatest political leaders.

Mr Speaker, in the place that I call home we believe in phrases like individual responsibility, hard work, and equal opportunity.

Clutha-Southland is a microcosm of the National Party. We are a microcosm of heartland New Zealand.

As I begin my political career, I ask myself the question – what type of country do we want to be in 20 years’ time?

I know what type of country I believe in – a dynamic, innovative, determined country. Forward looking and forward thinking. That is the vision of my generation.

I am 24 years old. Like Marilyn Waring, Simon Upton, and Nick Smith once were – I am the youngest Member of this House.

People at my age are making choices that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are marrying, buying houses, establishing career paths, and having children. It is important that when we are in this House we consider these people. I hope that I will provide a voice for my generation in this place

Although some young people might not realise it, politics and the other things that governments do affect all our lives.  Therefore, we must be in constant pursuit of delivering strong, stable, decisive government.

Consistent government; predictable government. That’s what we aim for and aim to deliver as part of Team Key.

It is an exciting future built on a platform of six years of good government.

I think it’s important and I will aspire to maintain those standards so that the senior generation can thrive; so that my generation can thrive; so that future generations can thrive.

In 1990, the year I was born, Simon William English came into this House. I’m the same age as his second oldest son, Thomas. He and I went to the same Play Group. I’ve literally known Bill and the family all of my life. And I want to acknowledge him, as the most humble, selfless, focused politician I’ve ever met.

The Hon Bill English, along with his wife Dr Mary English, and their family have served the people of Clutha-Southland very well for 24 years.

They are people of true heart, and true courage. That makes them truly heroic in the eyes of us all.

As our local MP, Bill was never afraid to stand up to those he opposed.

He was, and continues to be, a man of judgment who understands what really matters. He was, and continues to be, a man of integrity who would never run out on the principles he believes in, or the people who believe in him.

And he was, and continues to be, a man who understands the trust of those whose hopes he carries.

Bill English is a man devoted to serving the public interest. Thank you, for representing us proudly and strongly and setting such a high standard that I will strive to live up to.

To the good people of Clutha-Southland, as we look forward and begin shaping our future, we must never forget where we’ve came from, nor the people whose blood sweat and tears founded the path which we walk on today. Nor, should we lose touch with the present.

As I look up to the Gallery here today, I see a group of people who mean the world to me.

My family: mum Maree, dad Paul, sister Kelsey, Brodie Andrews and Margaret Williamson. As they all know only too well, politics is my passion.

The highest tribute I can pay to my family is that each of you are people of warmth, support and loyalty, and unconditional love.

Living up to the values you possess is what continues to make me strive to make you proud.

Without you all, I wouldn’t be here today. And it is the thought of you that will bring me back here tomorrow.

Now’s the time for me to stop talking and to start serving.

For as long as the people of Clutha-Southland will have me my time is their time – this is their time.

Mr Speaker, I am from them. I am them. And I am proud to be representing them!


Two sides one message

21/07/2014

Electoral law permitted election hoardings to be displayed from yesterday.

Alfred Ngaro’s National Party teams were so keen to paint the Te Atatu electorate blue they started at midnight.

Facebook and Twitter showed MPs, candidates and supporters the length and breadth of the country erecting hoardings and  enjoying themselves while doing it.

Labour teams could be forgiven for not being quite as happy in their work but that’s not the only contrast between the blue hoardings and the red ones.

The message from National is clear and consistent, the one, or should that be ones from Labour are not.

We passed this double-sided hoarding on the way home from Queenstown yesterday.

hoardings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hoardings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s two sides to the sign but a single message – party vote National.

Labour candidates are giving mixed messages – some are seeking the electorate vote over the party one, a lot of them – like those used in 2011 – don’t show their leader.

The contrast couldn’t be greater.

There are blue hoardings giving a consistent message of unity, support for party leader John Key, and  being quite clear that National wants your party vote. Then there are red ones giving mixed messages which show disunity and leave voters in doubt exactly what they’re being asked to do.

It’s the party vote that counts for forming a government.

National Party MPs and candidates are showing they not only want to be in parliament, they want to be in a John Key-led government.

But the hoardings of at least some Labour MPs show they’re more concerned about their own seats than the fate of their party – their desire to be in parliament is greater than that to have Labour in government.

If Labour MPs and candidates don’t care about the party vote, why would voters?


Political story of the day

22/06/2014

A new candidate needs to get noticed but the run-of-the-mill campaign launch isn’t going to do it.

National’s Clutha Southland candidate Todd Barclay chose a novel way to launch his campaign and was rewarded with nation-wide TV coverage:

. . . Queenstown Bay was also the site of an unlikely campaign launch for Clutha-Southland National candidate Todd Barclay.

“People take politics quite seriously and so do I, but I still want to demonstrate that I can get out there and have a bit of fun as well,” says Mr Barclay.

Almost derailed before his team left the jetty, Mr Barclay was the last to leave his sinking ship.

“My relative youth some people see as an issue, but I think that’s a strength. We want to put a play on that goes to show that age is no barrier. We are getting involved and having a bit of fun.”

And while his predecessor admired the novel campaign launch, he didn’t seem too bothered he wasn’t invited to participate.

“I wasn’t even asked or even tempted,” says Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. “I wasn’t even invited. I just stick to meetings in town halls.”

But he did have plenty of advice for his young replacement.

“He needs to work pretty hard to earn the right to represent people here because it’s been a National seat. They actually expect the National Party candidate to work harder than anyone else and that’s what he’s doing.”

There’s little doubt Mr English will be a tough act to follow, but it seems Mr Barclay isn’t too bad at keeping his head above water. . .

Having fun is important, especially when you’re working with volunteers as Todd is.

He made a splash with his campaign launch and he’s working very hard to meet people throughout the 38,247 square kilometres of the electorate he’s seeking to represent.

He knows he has to earn the right to be the MP and he’s taking nothing for granted.


Paper’s parochialism makes it clueless

04/05/2014

The Mountain Scene called National’s Clutha Southland candidate clueless because he couldn’t answer 10 questions.

MOUNTAIN SCENE: Name the Queenstown knight who owns a controlling interest in NZ Ski.
TODD BARCLAY: “Ah, it’s not Sir Eion Edgar, is it?” (WRONG)


MS: Who owns Millbrook Resort?
BARCLAY: “No, I’m not sure.”

MS: Name Queenstown Lakes District Council’s boss.
BARCLAY: “I don’t know the answer to that question – but I will find out. There are about eight or nine local bodies in the electorate and I don’t know who everybody is yet.” 

MS: What’s the name of Lake Wakatipu’s famed steamship?
BARCLAY: “The Earnslaw.” (CORRECT)

MS: Who owns Shotover Jet?
BARCLAY: “No, I don’t know.” 

MS: Name our local mayor.
BARCLAY: “Geddes, is it? I’m not sure, I’m sorry.” (WRONG)

MS: Name Queenstown’s two closest skifields.
BARCLAY: “Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.” (CORRECT)

MS: Who owns Queenstown’s two casinos?
BARCLAY: “SkyCity.” (CORRECT)

MS: Where’s Queenstown’s Hilton Hotel?
BARCLAY: “Just beside the Kawarau [Falls] Bridge.” (CORRECT)

MS: How many lanes does that bridge have?
BARCLAY: “One.” (CORRECT)

 

The correct answers are: 1 Sir John Davies, 2 Japan’s Ishii family, 3 Adam Feeley, 4 Earnslaw, 5 Ngai Tahu Tourism, 6 Vanessa van Uden, 7 Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, 8 SkyCity, 9 Kawarau Falls, 10 One

I should have got the first answer but it wouldn’t have been on the tip of my tongue and I wouldn’t have had a clue about the second.

I’m a ratepayer in the Queenstown Lakes District and heard the CE speak  at a conference last year but wouldn’t have recalled his name instantly.

I’d have got the fourth right but although I knew the answer to the fifth it wouldn’t have instantly come to mind.

I’d have got the next two and knew the Casino owner but again might not have got it without a bit of thought.

I would have got the last two.

It’s fair enough to question a candidate’s background but calling him clueless because a couple of days after he’d been selected he didn’t know the answers to 10 very local questions shows the paper is clueless about the electorate.

Clutha Southland covers an area of 38,247 square kilometres. Within its boundaries are at least parts of Queenstown Lakes District, Clutha, Gore, and Southland District Councils and Otago and Southland Regional Councils. There might be small areas of Invercargill and Dunedin City Councils in it too.

Queenstown would have the biggest concentration of people in the electorate but far more of the 50,000 or so of the Clutha Southland constituents live in places like Gore, Lawrence, Milton, Balclutha, Lumsden, Riversdale, Te Anau, Winton. . .

A candidate from Queenstown would have known far less about these places than Barclay did about Queenstown.

Queenstown is an important part of the electorate and the country which is shown by the attention it gets.

It would have far more visits from the Prime Minister and other ministers than any other part of the electorate. Even the sitting MP Bill English probably goes there more than any other single place in the electorate because he’ll often fly in and out of there even if he’s going to other parts of the electorate.

But important as it is, it’s a small part of a very big electorate.

To put its area of  into perspective, it’s more than 1,600 times bigger than Epsom, the country’s smallest on existing boundaries, which covers just 23 square kilometres.

The question to be asked of Barclay isn’t how much he knows about any one part of the country’s largest general electorate now, but how hard he’ll work and quickly he’ll learn about it all and get to grip with its diverse communities and their issues.

He convinced a majority of delegates that the answer to that is very when they voted for him last week. His challenge now is to prove it to the public he’s seeking to serve.

That task would be a little less difficult if he wasn’t being unfairly criticised by a paper which appears to be clueless about the electorate in which it’s based.


Todd Barclay Nat candidate for Clutha Sthlnd

27/04/2014

National Party members in Clutha Southland have selected Todd Barclay as their candidate for September’s election.

Todd Barclay was raised in Dipton and Gore, and at just 24 years old has established a strong mix of public and private sector experience in the public relations industry.

Working in Wellington and then Auckland, Todd worked for Bill English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee. He left Parliament to work for one of New Zealand’s leading public relations consultancies, before taking on a role as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris.

Todd went to Gore High School, and studied at Victoria University of Wellington. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Commercial Law.

Clutha Southland is the country’s largest general electorate, covering 38,247 square kilometres.

It has been well served by Bill English who will be standing on the party list only.

He wasn’t much older than Todd when he first entered parliament 24 years ago.

Delegates have chosen a young candidate to succeed him and he will be working hard to not just win the seat, which will get him into parliament, but maximise the party vote which will ensure he’s in a John Key-led government.


Choosing those to be chosen from

06/04/2014

Nine of us spent yesterday doing pre-selection for the National Party’ candidate for Clutha Southland.

As per party rules, the committee comprises the electorate chair, who chairs the meeting, four other from the electorate, who were elected at the AGM, two people nominated by the party president and two nominated by the regional chair.

This gives the the electorate a majority.

The proceedings are confidential so I won’t be divulging what happened but I thought readers might be interested in the process.

All nominees who get to pre-selection have already had board approval.

It is the committee’s role to interview them and reduce the number to five, in effect choosing those from whom the voting delegates will choose the candidate.

That someone doesn’t make the final cut doesn’t necessarily mean s/he wouldn’t have been a suitable candidate. It means that in the committee’s view, the five who get through would be better.

Pre-selection is a rigorous process and it needs to be for the sake of the party and the public.

A candidate chosen in any electorate has a chance of making it to parliament under MMP if s/he is a list candidate too and the candidate chosen in a blue seat like Clutha Southland is almost certain to win it.

All those interviewed have been notified of the outcome and now the five chosen have the task of convincing the delegates  – all of whom must have been financial members in the electorate for at least six months – that s/he is the one to step into the very big shoes left vacant by Bill English’s decision to stand for a list-seat only.


Selected on merit?

14/12/2013

The Labour Party is selecting candidates for several electorates this weekend.

The Gore Ensign reports the Clutha Southland candidate will be selected by a panel of senior labour Party representatives and some local members.

There is only one candidate for that position and while party secretary Tim Barnett wouldn’t confirm this, it is thought to be a health researcher Elizabeth Craig.

This is a very blue seat and even though incumbent MP Bill English isn’t standing again, odds heavily favour the National Party candidate, whoever s/he will be.

Because of that it’s unlikely there was much competition for the Labour candidacy.

Other seats will be more hotly contested and because of the party’s female quota there will be a question over any women selected – did they get there on merit?

Are they there because they will be the best candidates or because they are women?

That won’t always be the same thing.

Of course candidates – men and women – aren’t always the best people, but that’s not usually a result of a policy determined to select anyone but the best.

And the policy raises another question – does it comply with electoral law which requires candidates to be selected by democratic processes?


Maori Seats too big – Flavell

25/11/2013

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is concerned about the size of Maori electorates:

The Representation Commission has proposed no changes to the boundaries of the seven Maori electorates, because they are within their population quota.

Mr Flavell says it does not address the ”ridiculous” situation that the Tai Tonga MP is expected to represent over half of the land area of Aotearoa, which spans 18 general electorates.

He says the size of the Maori electorates is a major problem it has discussed with the Electoral Commission and MPs, but says there is no political will to change it.

He’s right about  Te Tai Tonga which covers 161, 443 square kilometres – that’s the whole of the South and Stewart Islands and part of Wellington Region.

But the next biggest seats are general ones. Clutha Southland covers 38,247 sq kms and West Coast Tasman covers 38, 042 sq kms.

Then comes the Maori seat of Te Tai Hauauru at 35, 825 sq kms and  the general seat of  Waitaki  which covers 34,888 sq kms.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti, a Maori seat, covers 30,952 sq kms then another general seat Kaikoura is 23, 706 sq kms.

The next two Maori seats are Waiariki at 19,212 sq kms and Te Tai Tokerau at 16, 370 sq kms. Then comes three general seats – East Coast (13,649); Taranaki-King Country (12, 869) and Northland (12, 255) and the smallest Maori electorate Hauraki-Waikato (12,580).

Mr Flavell says electoral law guarantees there will be at least 16 general electorates in the South Island so each one won’t be too big, and that approach should apply to Maori electorates.

The law actually says there will be 16 South Island seats and two of  those – Clutha Southland and West-Coast Tasman are bigger than all but Te Tai Tonga, Waitaki is bigger than all but that and Te Tai Hauauru ; Kaikoura is bigger than Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau and the three biggest North island seats East Coast, Taranaki-King Country and Northland are all bigger than Hauraki-Waikato.
Electorate sizes are determined by dividing the South Island population by 16 with a tolerance of 5% over or under that figure.I agree that most Maori seats are too big but so are some of the general ones. MMP gives better representation to parties but bigger electorates provides poorer representation for people.The simplest way to reduce the area electorates cover is to increase the number of seats but that would require more MPs or reduce the number of list seats and so reduce proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths.Another way to reduce the area MPs have to service is to get rid of Maori electorates and keep the total number of seats we have now. That would add a seat in the South Island and make all electorates a bit smaller but I don’t think that will get any support from Flavell.


Bill English to stand on list only

01/11/2013

National’s deputy leader and Clutha Southland MP Bill English has announced he won’t be seeking re-selection as an electorate candidate but will be seeking a list seat.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has today announced that he will seek nomination for the National Party list and step down as MP for Clutha-Southland at the election next year.

“This afternoon I met with my electorate committee in Gore to inform them of my decision,” he says.

“It has been a privilege to represent the electorate since 1990 and I have particularly enjoyed working for my constituents.

“I will continue as MP for Clutha-Southland until the election next year. I am strongly committed to the re-election of a John Key-led Government in 2014 and to my roles as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. We have made considerable progress since our election in 2008 and there is still plenty of work to do.

“However, representing one of New Zealand’s largest electorates has required considerable travel and time away from my family, particularly since becoming a minister. I have therefore decided that it is a good time to strike a better balance between my family and government commitments.

“I wish to thank the people of Clutha-Southland – and before that Wallace – for electing me as their representative in eight elections. I also thank my electorate team, including my electorate committee and my office staff in Gore, Balclutha and Queenstown, for their hard work and support over the years.

“I will continue to take a strong interest in issues affecting Southland and Otago and I’m confident the National Party will provide strong representation for the area into the future,” Mr English says.

As the party’s deputy Bill has second spot on the list as of right.

He has been a very effective local MP in spite of the competing demands of his ministerial roles, deputy Prime Minister and sometimes acting PM.

His work has also meant huge personal sacrifices for him and his family.

His decision will mean the party, and the country, still have the benefit of his skills and allow renewal in the electorate.

He has been recognised in New Zealand and further afield for his stewardship of the economy which has us on track back to surplus in spite of the financial and natural disasters the country has had to face.

He has also addressed waste in government spending which is enabling the public service to do more for less.

There is still more work to be done and I’m delighted he’s going to be staying on to do it.

As Southern Regional chair Bill is one of “my” MPs and those of us on the right side of the Waitaki will still regard him as one of ours whether or not he’s in one of our electorates.

The seat is the biggest general electorate in the country which makes it challenging to service. But it is also very blue so I am expecting the candidacy to be hotly contested.


Why and where’s Waitaki grown?

08/10/2013

Population projections for the Waitaki District have been gloomy for years.

The trend has been for fewer people and the average age of those left getting higher.

But yesterday’s announcement by Statistics New Zealand of electorate populations from this year’s census shows that the Waitaki Electorate’s population has increased from 60,135 to 64, 962.

The electorate includes not just the Waitaki District but most of Central Otago, all of Waimate and Mackenzie Districts, part of Queenstown Lakes and part of Timaru City.

QLDC was expected to increase in population because of Queenstown’s growth but that town is in neighbouring Clutha Southland electorate, not Waitaki.

Wanaka, which is in Waitaki, has grown but more than 3,000 extra people would almost have doubled its population which is unlikely.

There’s been a mini boom in grape growing in Central which will have brought more people into the area but again I’d be surprised if it’s thousands.

Both Waimate and Waitaki Districts have had a big increase in dairy farming which increases employment opportunities on and off farm.

Could it be that anecdotal evidence of a population increase, and a lowering of the average age, because of dairying is reflected in official statistics?

The answer to why Waitaki has grown and where will come when more census data is released.


Who’s best at getting votes?

03/09/2013

On Q & A on Sunday Richard Prebble pointed out that none of Labour’s three leadership contenders had a good record for getting votes. (Transcript here).

In 2008 they were:

David Cunliffe, New Lynn, a dark red electorate: electorate vote 17,331, majority 4,025, party vote 14,165.

Grant Robertson, Wellington Central, a swinging electorate, electorate vote 17,046, majority 1,904, party vote 14,244.

Shane Jones, Northland, a National electorate, electorate vote 9,835, loss by 10,054, party vote 8,573.

In 2011 they were:

David Cunliffe, New Lynn – 16,999, majority 5,190, party vote 12,462.

Grant Robertson, Wellington Central: electorate vote 18,836, majority 6,376, party vote 10,459.

Shane Jones, Tamaki Makarau, a former Labour seat now held by the Maori Party: electorate vote  6,184,  a loss by 936, party vote 7,739.

In 2008 and 2011 Cunliffe’s electorate votes was higher than the party one but both were lower in 2011.

Robertson’s vote was higher than the party vote in both elections, his personal vote went up in 2011, the party vote went down.

In 2008 Jones’s electorate vote was higher than Labour’s party vote, in 2011 it was lower.

Looking at the colour of the seats, Robertson in the marginal Wellington Central did best but none of them was particularly good at getting votes.

Compare them with the National leader and deputy.

John Key got 26,771 electorate votes, won with a majority of 20,547  and attracted 23,559 party votes in 2008 and in 2011 got 26,011 electorate votes, a majority of 21,066 and 23,558 party votes.

In 2008, Bill English won Clutha Southland with   22,631 electorate votes, a majority of 15,475 and 20,235 party votes. In 2011 he won with 21,375 electorate votes, a majority of 16,168 and a party vote of 20,020.

These are very blue electorates, but New Lynn ought to be a red one.

The question those voting for Labour new leader should be asking Cunliffe, Jones and Robertson is, what are there chances of getting the sort of voter support Key and English do and how will they do it?


Labour’s abaondoned the south

28/08/2013

Labour’s holding 12 meetings around the country to let its three aspiring leaders meet members.

But in further evidence the party has abandoned the south, the southernmost meeting is in Dunedin.

Sterling service from the local MPs, Clutha Southland’s Bill English and  Invercargill’s Eric Roy have painted the south of the south blue.

But if Labour had any interest in that part of the country you’d think the leadership meeting would be a good opportunity to garner some interest and reconnect with Southlanders.

The cost of getting to Invercargill can’t be the excuse for not going because the three candidates are travelling the country on the public purse.


Maori seats don’t give representation

26/04/2013

Maori are being canvassed to register on either the general or Maori roll.

If they’re in Te Tai Tokerau and want decent representation they should be opting for the general roll because their MP, Hone Harawira, is a rare sight in parliament.

Mana Party leader has been absent for 49 of the 120 sitting days since the 2011 election.

Mana leader Hone Harawira described himself as going “to battle for those without a voice in Parliament” at his party’s conference this month but he has been a rare sight in Parliament this year. . . .

Speaker David Carter said a formal attendance record for MPs was no longer kept, but Mr Harawira had been given 49 days of leave since the 2011 election, during which Parliament has sat for about 120 days. Party leaders have more responsibilities than other MPs, but most, including Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer, attend on two of the three sitting days. . .

Most Maori seats are considerably bigger than the average general seat which means even a very good MP would struggle to service the electorate well.

However, Harawira has the second smallest Maori seat so can’t use electorate size as an excuse.

Te Tai Tokerau  at 16,370 square kilometres is less than half the size of the three biggest general seats, Clutha Southland, West Coast Tasman and Waitaki,  and a fraction the size of Te Tai Tonga which covers an area of 161, 433 square kilometres.

Te Tai Hauauru covers 35, 825 square kilometres, Ikaroa Rawhiti is  30,952 square kilometres in area, the general seat of Kaikoura covers 23,706 square kilometres, and Waiariki covers 19,212 square kilometres.

A party leader does have other duties but if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition generally make it to two of the three sitting days each week, Harawira can’t use that as an excuse either.

Although he is costing us more than any other MP who isn’t a minister:

Despite the cutback in travel to Wellington, Mr Harawira’s travel expenses for the first three months of the year were still higher than any other non-ministerial MP, including Mr Shearer.

Tariana Turia said Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice,   Harawira certainly isn’t giving his constituents a voice in parliament but he’s still racking up a very large travel bill.


MPs per sq km

10/12/2008

 One person one vote is a core principle of democracy and from that comes the requirement for electorates to have a similar population.

The quotas for current boundaries  are:

North Island general electorates: 57,243 +/- 2,862

South Island general electorates: 57,562 +/- 2,878

Maori electorates:                             59,583 +/1 2,979

The result of this is a huge variation in the area a MP represents – from Rodney Hide in Epsom who covers just 23 square kilometres to Bill English in Clutha Southland, the largest general electorate which is 38,247 square kilometres in area and Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga which covers 161,443 sqaure kilometres.

MMP adds to the dispropotion of MPs per square kilometre because list MPs serve parties not electorates and most of them are in the North Island and in cities.

MMP encourages parties to work where the votes are and there are more votes in the North Island and cities than in the provinces and South Island. The result is that the provincial and southern voices aren’t being heard so strongly and that has been exagerated by the bluewash of the provinces in last month’s election because there are very few opposition MPs outside the four main cities.

I’m not suggesting a change to one person, one vote. But when considering if MMP if is retained or not some thought needs to be given to how big electorates can be to ensure MPs are reasonably accessible to their constituents and that they can effecitvely cover the area they are supposed to serve.

A small concession to the difficulty of servicing the larger electorates has been made in the agreement between National and the Maori Party which gives all Maori MPs and those in general electorates  larger than 20,000 square kilometres an extra staff member.

However, they don’t get any extra funds for associated costs and while Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau which is 730 square kilometres in area gets an extra member of staff, 23 general electorates which are bigger than that but smaller than 20,000 don’t.

Similarly Nania Mahuta in Hauraki Waikato which covers 12,580 square kilometres gets an extra staff member but Shane Adern in Taranaki King Country (12,869 sq kms) and Anne Tolley in East Coast (13,649) don’t.

The table below (from the parliamentary library) shows the areas electorates cover, colour coded for the party of the MP representing them.

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23

 


Inequities over staff increases

16/11/2008
One of the unfortunate consequences of MMP is the larger area of electorates. The difficulty and added expense of servicing them has not been recognised by extra resources for their MPs.
However, thanks to one of the clauses in the agreement between National and the Maori Party  that will change.

All Maori MPs and all MPs in general seats which cover an area greater than 20,000 square kilometres will be entitled to an extra staff member, equivalent to three full time out of parliament staffers.

The Electorates which will benefit from this are:

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Tamaki Makaurau

730

The MPs representing them are Rahui Katene, Bill English, Chris Auchinvole,  Parekura Horomia, Jacqui Dean, Colin King, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira,  Nanaia Mahuta and Pita Sharples.

The area the bigger ones cover definitely justifies more help. But there are 21 general electorates which cover bigger areas than Tamaki Makaurau.

That raises the question of why an electorate covering a relatively small area of 730 square kilometres needs an extra staff member if these, which are bigger, don’t:

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

 


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