Varley interesting National potential

Let this column, known for its political insights, be the first to introduce you to Karl Varley. Before too long he will be a National Party MP.

For the 2011 election he was on the National Party candidates list at number 75, which in National circles is about as low as you can go without actually joining the Labour Party or eating tripe and onions.

As the Government rapidly disposes of members by appointing them to lucrative jobs, easing them out after gross misconduct or simply mislaying one or two, number 75 is starting to look dangerously close to becoming an MP.

Remember Aaron Gilmore, the Hanmer Springs diner, was at number 54 and there are some pretty flakey characters from 56 to 74. Mr Varley's credentials are impeccable and the only mystery is why he wasn't near the top of the list.

For a start, he grew up in Otago. Hawea Flat to be exact. He was captain of the first fifteen at Mt Aspiring College (even Richie McCaw missed out on being captain of the Otago Boys' High School first fifteen).

Mr Varley's sporting record is marred only by his present interest in coaching soccer. One schoolboy item, minor but worth mentioning, is that he was dux of Mt Aspiring College.

His image is tarnished by his now being Christchurch-based but, like his leader John Key, he has made a lot of money and his skills are needed as this Government flails about buying 200 army trucks for $135 million when the health system is grinding to halt.

Mr Varley's resume tells us ''at 21 he built a business from start up to $15 million in revenue in seven years. After selling he went on to buy a retail business which he took from $700,000 to $2 million in revenue in just under two years before selling.

He then purchased a struggling hospitality business which he turned around into a successful profitable business before exiting the industry in 2006.

During this time he also worked in wholesale and distribution with a famous European brand, doubling revenue and increasing market share by 561% within two years.''

All this without coming to the attention of the Serious Fraud Office. He's a genius and his talents are being wasted. A Bill English budget looks pretty sick when lined up against that kind of financial acumen.

Surely, Mr Varley could take over a ''struggling country and turn it into a profitable business before exiting?''

Have we found the perfect politician?Well, politics is a funny game. In 2010, Mr Varley stood for the Shirley Papanui Community Board and came ninth out of 12 candidates. His election message was: ''Always try your hardest and never give up!''

Maybe the electors of Shirley Papanui will do the decent thing this year if Mr Varley stands again but, let's face it, the people of Shirley and Papanui (Merivale is thereabouts) are not known for their political insights.

They are not alone. The citizens of Whangarei for several elections returned Phil Heatley to the House and he became Minister of Housing in 2008. However, his travelling expenses were found to be in a muddle - $70 being claimed for a meal which turned out to be bottles of wine and he resigned that portfolio.

His career is one of many to have crumbled but Mr Varley will surely be able to pay for his own wine? Wine seems to be a problem with National MPs but we have no reports of Mr Varley overdoing it.

Indeed, his days seem to be too full for drinking at all. Saving businesses and coaching soccer and blogging and tweeting. The last two activities being now pretty well essential for any budding MP, having replaced the burdensome task of actually having to talk to anyone.

There will be more MPs dropped in the months to come. Inadvertently claiming for the wife's hairdo or for the cost of painting the bach at Taupo or brawling in restaurants seem to be occupational hazards and very soon list member 75 can start rehearsing his maiden speech.

And how will Mr Varley perform as an MP?A great future awaits this young man from Hawea Flat. He's clever, wealthy and is married with children.

But wait, there's more! Karl Varley is a martial arts expert and is the New Zealand representative for the International Karate Organisation Kyokushinkaikan. What's more, he can pronounce it.

However, his greatest claim to fame is the international attention he gained in 2002 when he donned what appeared to be a bathrobe borrowed from the Hilton Hotel and made it into the Guinness World Records by kicking through 30 baseball bats in under 60 seconds.

The man is a natural political leader. If I were John Key, I would be very afraid.

Jim Sullivan is a Dunedin writer and broadcaster.

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