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Why National?

  • December 5th, 2007

Not surprisingly I’m asked why I want to be the National candidate for Wellington Central in 2008, rather than standing for ACT.

Its simple. I want to be effective.

Last evening was one of Wellington’s most beautiful. The harbour shone. I could see people ambling on Mt Victoria above. Cathy’s new deck in the evening sun seemed to be about the best place to be in the world. I’d just walked home past the sipping and laughing in Courtenay Place’s street cafes, and I knew that down below there would be a splashing, strolling, eating crowd at Oriental Bay.

Yet in Parliament, out of the sun and light, the iniquitous Electoral Finance Bill was being forced through.  I can’t just put aside the corruption by power of those now running this country. Many lucky peoples in history have praised themselves and each other and sung and danced while their children’s futures were mortgaged to wiser neighbours. 

I’ve tried to do my bit from the side, as a lawyer. Among the hours of voluntary work I recently created the trust deeds for David Farrar’s Coalition for Free Speech, and then for John Boscawen’s team.

But there is so much to be done, and for 6 years I was paid as an MP to work on causes I was passionate about. Now I spend my most productive hours working on client matters, advancing their passions.

I think of the weekend’s front page DomPost headline “NZ Stuck as Other Nations Prosper “. I think of last week’s Coroners’ Court revelations of incompetence in the Police, of Corrections’ deep-seated leaderlessness that allowed Graeme Burton to murder Karl Keukenbecher, and for breakfast today Wellington Hospital’s decay is the main course. Politicians who created the hopeless structure are now dumping on the dedicated souls trying to keep it all going.

I’ve always loved being a lawyer. I’m no hair shirt ascetic. I like the income and the choices it has given me. My family have liked them more than politics. But I can’t get rid of the feeling that my 6 years in Parliament were an apprenticeship. It will be wasted if I do not try again.

So how best to do that?

I’ve long been asked to stand for National by members around the country. I got into media strife before the last election by honestly answering a question about that. Though Richard Prebble kicked all that off by polling ACT members on joining National, I believed then that the parties should not even attempt a merger. I believed that the shared causes would be better served by a coalition, and the areas of difference could just consume energy if the parties were forced together.

The election confirmed what I knew from my inbox and voicemail.  Most of my supporters had moved to National. I could not blame them. National’s stated principles were mine anyway.  Right from the beginning my maiden speech in Parliament owed much to former National Prime Minister Sir John Marshall’s maiden speech.

Now ACT is the personal fiefdom of its leader. That is the nature of parties hanging off a personal seat.  I wish him and them well. He will continue to contribute something unique and often valuable to Parliament. But MPs in those parties have to accept that they are hitch-hikers. They must laugh at the leader’s jokes, and skip in step with him, even if the leader can’t skip, or changes step without warning.

I am sorry to disappoint some of the outstanding people who helped me so much when I was in Parliament, who have not, or could not shift to National. If I can help to restore integrity to Parliament I hope that will be a compensation for them.

I’ve had enough of being told what to do by this government. I have a lot of faith in the National leadership team of John Key and Bill English. My first contact with John was telling. He came across in the House and introduced himself, then asked me to let him know if I thought he was heading in the wrong direction on any matter where my commercial/legal background helped.

I can think of very few politicians with that readiness to listen, or to disclose to a ‘competitor’ that they might need advice. From my observation what you see is what you get with him – an intelligent, determined man doing what he is doing for the same reasons as me, a drive to work for the country he loves.

Over the last year representatives of three provincial National electorates have sounded me out to stand for them. One electorate has sent seductive pamphlets and photographs, and suggesting enticing legal work. It’s flattering, of course. But Wellington Central has been home for me and my family for more than 30 years. I was born here, brought up in Taihape (no-one can out-ethnic me!) and came back to Wellington for University.

I’ve loved living here. This is my stamping ground. I work, bike, and walk here. I’ve sailed and kayaked and tramped everywhere you can in Wellington. Every year it seems more beautiful and more stimulating. Cathy and I have fought two campaigns in Wellington Central and I think our volunteers enjoyed it as much as we did. We know every street for deliveries, how to get into the mailboxes of the high-rise apartments, and the leafy drives of the northern suburbs.

We’ve been involved in many Wellington organisations over the past 30 years, ranging from my nearly 10 years on the Marsden School Board to a recent appointment as chairman of Wellington Rugby League.  There are so many excellent groups in this city but ones we like supporting or promoting at the moment include those for young people, such the Wellington Youth Orchestra, the Affordable Art Trust, a number of sports clubs and their emerging sportsmen and women, as well as favourites like the Karori Sanctuary.

The best way to help me is to join National in Wellington Central at . National electorate selection rules allow the locals to select their candidate when the electorate membership crosses a threshold. Wellington’s National electorate needs more to do that. If you can do that small thing for me I’d be most grateful.

To contact me email   The calls so far from people wanting to be part of my campaign are very much appreciated.

I’m on Youtube with an off the cuff speech against the Electoral Finance Bill.  Heckling by Young Labour.


  • Lindsay
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 1:55 pm

I like National’s ‘stated’ principles as much as you do. I would like them even more if they were substantiated in policy.

And it’s no great hardship to “skip in time” with a leader who defends those ideas which drew you to a party in the first place. I see you have “a lot of faith in the National leadership team of John Key and Bill English”. Good for you. You are going to need it when you feel like skipping out of time.

I wish you well. Lord knows Parliament needs talent.

  • MikeE
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 3:11 pm

Even though I am an ACT supported, I think its great that you are hopefully going to end up back in parliament where I think you can make a massive difference – especially to the national party.

They especially need someone who can bring national back to its principles of freedom, responsibility and limited government as opposed to being just labour lite, and I think you would be just the person to help ensure this.

Perhaps you can give some of teh current crop of National MPs a bit of a kick up the backside when they support ridiculous laws in contradiction to these principles – such as the proposed BZP ban, and those MPs who are quite frankly an embarressment to National, such as the DHMO banning Jacqui Dean.

The need you, and I hope you do a great job there.


Best wishes. I’m sure you’ll be an excellent National MP as you were an excellent ACT MP.

For someone who wants to be in Parliament, moving from ACT to National is a logical step. But for the rest of us who have no personal political ambitions and just want to make New Zealand a better place, I can’t see any reason to switch.

John Key has made it pretty clear he won’t undo much of the damage Labour has done and expects people to vote for him mainly because he’s not Helen Clark. Which is a pretty good reason, but not a good enough one for me to devote my time and energy in support of it.

  • Cassandra
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 3:45 pm

There is a leap in logic involved in the proposition that you will be effective as a National MP. I am sure your fate will be the same as that of all National MPs of intellect and ideas, namely to be sidelined and driven out by those concerned solely with holding offices rather than doing anything when in them.

  • Mercury
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 3:56 pm

Good luck. Will be interesting to see how long you last with National before you give up in frustration.

  • tim barclay
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 4:31 pm

I wish you would put your name forward for a winnable provincial seat like Taupo. Nominations have closed now and I do not know who the nominees are but I hope you are one of them.

  • Stephen LINDSAY
  • December 5th, 2007
  • 8:33 pm

In Taupo you would defaecate upon the opposition from a great height.
Wellington Central is made up of a huge number of people wallowing in the trough of taxpayers’ funds. They will want somebody to preserve their treasured status, even if she does not know where she lives.
I wish you the very best of luck. Our country deserves a politician such as yourself.
But, if I had an overpaid job sucking off the taxpayers I doubt whether I would vote for you. And that is what makes your task so terribly difficult.

  • Camryn
  • December 6th, 2007
  • 7:16 am

I can see that you have good reasons for switching to National. Still, it’s a shame that you’re running in the seat also chosen by ACT’s only current MP that isn’t Rodney… Heather Roy. Couldn’t one of you have run elsewhere, and couldn’t you have come to some quiet accommodation to achieve that?

Assuming you do both run, the vote will surely be split.

  • George
  • December 6th, 2007
  • 10:15 am

More power to your arm Stephen. Sad that you will be head to head with Heather Roy in an electorate immersed in preserving its bureacratic way of life. I feel most will vote for self preservation as opposed to principle. If you get in, take it to them running. Matters of self defense, restorative justice and the shambles that is our politically influenced Police leadership need attention.



Welcome to National from National Manurewa.

  • Stuart
  • December 6th, 2007
  • 6:40 pm

I wish you all the best and hope you can make a positive difference for New Zealand.

  • commented
  • December 6th, 2007
  • 7:19 pm

Alas you never fit with ACTS principles are you loved big government on social issues far too much. You certainly fit better with National — they too want to be “effectie” which, for them, is code meaning that they intend to compromise as much as possible to win as many Labour voters as possible so that as many Nat politicians can get back on the gravy train as possible. You’ll fit right in.

  • Jim Maclean
  • December 6th, 2007
  • 10:24 pm

Stephen there is much about National and even more about ACT that I regard as ill concieved at best and downright worrisome at worst, but I am convinced that ANY party you are a member of is the richer for having your common sense attitudes to law and order issues. I wish you the very best of luck in the upcomming elections. Whatever ticket you stand on, your views represent mine and many others, with regard to Justice in NZ

  • sfranks
  • December 8th, 2007
  • 2:19 pm

My post ( only one of the criticisms above.
The other criticisms are understood, but being human, I focus on the favourable comments.
I appreciate them indeed.

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