New National Clutha-Southland candidate Todd Barclay with
current MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English at the
National Party Mainland Conference at the weekend. Photo by
''He's taller, he's cooler, he'll work harder ... and he
was in a play group with my second-eldest son.''
That was Clutha-Southland MP Bill English's entertaining
introduction on Saturday to his 23-year-old Gore-based
electorate successor, Todd Barclay.
The pair were giving addresses at the National Party Mainland
Conference in Queenstown over the weekend - Mr English as
Clutha-Southland's retiring MP and Mr Barclay as its new
candidate for the party.
In his own humorous version of his young replacement's rise
to the National Party ranks, Mr English said an email to his
office several years earlier stating simply: ''My name's Todd
Barclay. I'm from Dipton. Can I have a job?'' marked the
beginning of his former intern's political ambitions.
''So I said 'Yes. Come and see me'.''
Mr English, who is also deputy prime minister, assured his
Clutha-Southland constituents they had a capable,
hard-working replacement in Mr Barclay, who had demonstrated
his commitment to the National Party in his time spent
working for the MP.
Mr English felt fortunate to have represented the electorate
''right through the swing from its worst times to its best
times'', not only in terms of its dairy farming industry but,
more importantly, as it changed its attitude ''to a more
outward-looking view of the world''.
Mr Barclay - who has also previously worked for Cabinet
ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee and for the Philip
Morris tobacco company - said it was a ''huge privilege and
huge responsibility'' to be selected as the new
Mr English's loyalty, commitment and ''unquestionable
integrity'' as an MP left ''incredibly huge shoes that I need
to work hard to one day fill'', he said.
Mr Barclay was looking forward to working as ''team
Southland'' with new Invercargill candidate Sarah Dowie, who
also addressed the conference along with her electorate's
retiring MP, Eric Roy.
Earlier, Prime Minister John Key received a rousing welcome
from delegates. Looking forward to Thursday's Budget
announcement, he said health would benefit to the tune of
$15 billion. However, New Zealand's books were heading back
''Six years ago, the Treasury never believed this country
would get back into surplus again ... debt looked to be $50
billion to $60 billion.
''[We have] $90 billion to $100 billion less debt because of
the actions of our Minister of Finance.''
Mr Key said business confidence in New Zealand was ''pretty
much'' on a 20-year high, consumer confidence was high and
each week 1500 New Zealanders left welfare for paid