No sitting MP does not worry mayor

 Jules Radich
Jules Radich. Photo: ODT files
Dunedin will not have an MP in government for the first time in nearly 24 years, but the mayor is confident the city will still get a fair hearing.

As the Labour Party was defeated at this year’s general election, and Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse is retiring, there will be no sitting Dunedin MP in government for the first time since 1999.

Since 1999, Labour government ministers based in Dunedin have included David Benson-Pope, Pete Hodgson, David Clark and Clare Curran.

In the John Key and Bill English governments, Mr Woodhouse served in several senior roles, including whip, minister of immigration, minister of transport, minister of police and minister of revenue.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said although there would be no Dunedin MP in government, he was confident the city would get a fair hearing.

"I think we will have new receptive ears to the needs of Dunedin," Mr Radich said.

He had been reassured that National health spokesman Dr Shane Reti supported construction of the new Dunedin hospital.

There was an application with the government for climate resilience in South Dunedin, Mr Radich said.

He was looking forward to discussing it with the new climate change minister, he said.

"Being a business-focused government, I hope they would see it is far better to plan for resilience than deal with a calamity.

"If you build the resilience in advance, it’s far cheaper and more efficient. My expectation is that it should be feasible."

Mr Woodhouse said the lack of a Dunedin MP in government left the city in an "interesting position".

Although he was confident National would advocate for Dunedin, the question was how it would do so logistically, he said.

"While it was a good election result, we didn’t get as many list MPs as we might have expected."

Mr Woodhouse was first elected to Parliament in 2008.

The most pressing issue for the city was the construction of the new Dunedin hospital, he said.

"The next minister of health will have to crack the whip on the hospital," he said.

"The project has taken far too long, and the new government has committed to restoring clinical spaces that were taken out of the plan by the Labour government."

The University of Otago was in a difficult financial position, Mr Woodhouse said.

"The new government will need to have a careful eye on that, because the university is so important to the city."