Mooney keen to do the ‘hard yards’

With a landslide victory in the Southland electorate under his belt, Joseph Mooney says he is ready to get to work as part of the National-led government.

Joseph Mooney.
Joseph Mooney.
Mr Mooney (45) collected 19,981 votes, well ahead of Labour candidate Simon McCallum on 5008 and Green candidate Dave Kennedy (2875).

National also won the party vote in Southland, with 16,204 votes to Labour’s 5510 and Act New Zealand’s 4624.

The one-term MP said he was excited to start "doing the hard yards to get the country back on track".

While there was still "a bit of water to flow under the bridge" before ministerial portfolios were handed out by Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon, Mr Mooney said he would love to do whatever he could to contribute to the government.

But could he see himself as tourism minister?

"Obviously there are some things that make particular sense in this electorate, but it’s too early to say."

Dr McCallum (48) said while it was "certainly a disappointing night for Labour", he felt he had done his job.

"I tried to get within 10% of the Labour vote, because the electorate has been between -12% and -10.5% ... and we were right on 10%.

"I was able to get it closer than it had been for the past five elections, and I didn’t cause any scandal."

As to whether Dr McCallum might stand for Labour in Southland in 2026, he said that would be a family decision.

"I have to convince my wife."

Mr Mooney was not the sole Southland MP elected on Saturday night. Act’s Southland candidate Todd Stephenson was ranked fourth on the party list and comfortably made it into Parliament thanks to Act recording 8.98% of the party vote.

Todd Stephenson.
Todd Stephenson.
"I’m very excited and looking forward to getting stuck in ... it’s just starting to sink in."

Mr Stephenson has relocated to Queenstown from Australia, where until recently he lived and worked. However, he spent Saturday night at Act HQ in Auckland.

"It was a great atmosphere and very upbeat, obviously, with the best ever result for Act, two electorate seats and the highest party vote ever. We’re all fairly buoyant."

Act has held dozens of public meetings in Southland over the past three years and high party vote numbers in smaller centres reflected the success of that effort, Mr Stephenson said.

"Gore, Alexandra, Te Anau gave us a really pleasing party vote, and across Southland we polled above the national average for the party vote."

Mr Stephenson will have to wait to see if his high list ranking means he will receive a prominent role in the new government, but he said that he looked forward to working closely with Mr Mooney and neighbouring National Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds.

"I am committed to being a voice for the South and representing their views in Wellington."


The numbers

Electorate vote
—  Joseph Mooney 19,981 (majority 14,973)
—  Simon McCallum 5008
—  Dave Kennedy (Green) 2875
—  Todd Stephenson 2312

Party vote
—  National 16,204
—  Labour 5510
—  Act  4624
—  Green  2538


— Additional reporting Mike Houlahan