Fresh political faces

Two more National MPs have joined the list of those announcing they will not stand at the next election as Prime Minister John Key encourages rejuvenation in the party he hopes to lead to a third consecutive term of office next year.

Mr Key has shown a ruthless streak when needed, demoting Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley from Cabinet and appointing rising stars like Simon Bridges in their place.

Now Ms Wilkinson and Mr Heatley have announced their intention to not stand for election next year. Chris Tremain, Chris Auchinvole, Cam Calder, Paul Hutchinson and Katrina Shanks made similar announcements earlier.

Kaikoura MP Colin King is facing a challenge from a party member for the electorate nomination and is likely be replaced as National's candidate at the next election.

Similarly, Wairarapa MP John Hayes is likely to be challenged for his place as the party's candidate in 2014. Long-standing Clutha-Southland MP Bill English will become a list MP from next year, opening the way for a new face down south, and rumours continue that Invercargill MP Eric Roy will retire.

There will be pressure on other long-serving electorate MPs to stand for the list so they can take up overseas appointments, or appointments to government boards, if Mr Key leads National to victory.

Pakauranga MP Maurice Williamson and East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully are two names which spring to mind. And Mr English, who may well decide against another full term in Parliament, will be in line for a top overseas finance job given his management of the economy during the past five years.

Mr Key has only given a guarantee he will lead the party through to the next election, giving rise to speculation either Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce or Justice Minister Judith Collins will be his replacement.

If Mr English steps down as deputy prime minister, expect one of those two to be next in line - and the battle for supremacy will be fierce. Ministers Joyce and Collins hog the headlines and news bulletins.

Mr Joyce is spokesman for practically everything, and Mrs Collins is seen as a no-nonsense and practical minister who gets on with the job. Her nickname ''Crusher'' is not to be taken lightly.

The retirement of Katrina Shanks will provide National with an interesting scenario. She has stood as the ''token'' candidate in Ohariu against United Future leader Peter Dunne. Mr Dunne has indicated he wants to stay in Parliament.

If National decides to stand a strong candidate in the electorate, Mr Dunne, although a popular local MP, could find himself taking early retirement. Another National support MP, Act New Zealand leader John Banks, should face reality and announce he is ready to quit, given ongoing litigation.

The announcements put the spotlight on Labour and its ruling that 45% of its MPs must be women following the next election.

It would seem that, if Labour does not get more than 40% support in polls, one or more top-ranked male list MPs - such as David Parker, Shane Jones and Andrew Little - may struggle to get re-elected. Pressure has been placed on former leader Phil Goff and long-serving MPs Trevor Mallard and Annette King to make way for new talent, but so far, all are resisting.

They are backed by personally loyal electorate officials who are likely to easily win any selection battle orchestrated by the Labour Party headquarters. National has the luxury of numbers for its rejuvenation plan.

With 59 MPs compared with Labour's 34, Mr Key has room in which to manoeuvre. Labour leader David Cunliffe has fewer options but will be expecting a rise in numbers after the next election.

However, that is not guaranteed and he needs to remove some of the tired faces from a many times reshuffled caucus. List MPs rely on the charisma and electioneering expertise of their leader to get into Parliament.

Electorate MPs rely on their work in their communities, along with the expertise of their leader. Labour needs to think less of stacking its list with quotas and more of ensuring some new top-quality candidates are selected if it is to gain widespread electoral support.


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