New list MP and former diplomat
Paul Foster-Bell will seek the nomination as National's
candidate for the Whangarei electorate next year after
sitting MP Phil Heatley confirmed he was stepping
Former Cabinet Minister Mr Heatley announced his intention to
retire from politics at next year's election today, saying:
"As an MP and Cabinet Minister I've achieved much locally and
nationally. At 46, it's now time to move on to fresh
challenges and opportunities in the private sector."
Mr Foster-Bell who entered Parliament in May following the
departure of Jackie Blue and unsuccessfully contested the
Wellington Central seat in 2011 and Dunedin South in 2002,
said this afternoon he would seek the nomination for
Whangarei - his home town.
"I'm pretty keen to carry on the good work that Phil's been
doing and represent the good people of Whangarei. I
appreciate Whangarei will be a highly sought after seat
because it's a strong National seat, but at the same time I
think I've got both some experience as a new MP and good
credentials having worked offshore representing the country
and family connections and was born and bred there."
Mr Heatley replaced John Banks as the National Party's MP for
Whangarei in 1999 and has been re-elected with healthy
majorities in the four general elections since.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of being an MP and
a Cabinet Minister. It has been an honour to serve the people
of Whangarei, the place of my birth, since 1999", he said in
Mr Heatley became a Cabinet Minister in 2008 with the housing
and fisheries portfolios, but stood down from his ministerial
posts in 2010 before returning 34 days later after being
cleared of any intentional wrongdoing over the misuse of his
ministerial credit card.
He had signed an expense claim for a dinner when, in fact,
the $70 charge was for bottles of wine at a National Party
In January Mr Heatley was stripped of his Energy and
Resources and Housing ministerial portfolios in a Cabinet
- By Adam Bennett of
the NZ Herald