So much promise from a passionate southern MP

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker. Photo: ODT files
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker. Photo: ODT files
For Hamish Walker, being a southern MP was a life’s ambition.

National's MP for Clutha-Southland yesterday announced he wouldn't be standing at this year's general election after it was revealed he leaked confidential details of 18 Covid patients to media.

Born and raised in Dunedin, the former Maori Hill primary and John McGlashan College pupil earned a business degree at Unitec before setting up a property management company in Auckland.

He still kept a close watch on the South and politics, and sold his firm to return to Dunedin and stand in the Dunedin South electorate in 2014.

Although beaten by Labour’s Clare Curran for the seat, National’s victory in the party vote count was noted by party hierarchy.

Mr Walker was back for more in 2017, securing the National nomination for the safe seat of Clutha-Southland.

A former first-class rugby referee and Otago Rugby board member, Mr Walker has strong family ties in the region.

In his maiden speech, after securing his seat with a 14,345 majority, Mr Walker referred to his great-great-great-grandfather John Barr - who built the first store and bakery in Balclutha - and scores of other relatives across the South.

Having pledged that he did not come to Parliament ‘‘to eat my lunch, nor to ‘be’ a member of Parliament’’, Mr Walker soon developed a reputation for hard work and enthusiastic representation of constituency interests.

He generated plenty of headlines with determined local campaigns on issues such as policing in Balclutha, the future of Invermay and the provision of maternity services in Lumsden.

Mr Walker also made the news for more unusual reasons, such as helping a ewe deliver a lamb and for talking a distraught man down from a ledge.

His hard work was recognised a few weeks ago, when Mr Walker - married with a young child - was promoted to be National’s spokesman for forestry and land information and an associate spokesman for tourism.

However, what looked like being a long career in politics came to a sudden and dispiriting end this week, after he leaked confidential health information to the media.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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