'I know it very well and I know the people very well’: Brownlee bites back over electorate claims

Gerry Brownlee has refuted claims he was disengaged from the Ilam electorate in the years leading...
Gerry Brownlee has refuted claims he was disengaged from the Ilam electorate in the years leading up to his election night ousting. Photo: Getty Images
Gerry Brownlee is “comfortable” with the commitment he has shown to what was his Ilam electorate for 24 years and has disputed claims he was disengaged from the community.

Brownlee lost the Ilam electorate he had occupied for National since 1996 on Saturday to Labour’s Sarah Pallett.

Former Christchurch city councillor Raf Manji, who lost to Brownlee in the Ilam contest in 2017, said he was not surprised Brownlee lost the seat.

Manji said Brownlee had not had enough of a presence in his electorate over the past few years.

“I don’t think you can just turn up once every three years and do three weekends of street-corner meetings and feel like you’re fully engaged in the community,” he said.

Raf Manji.
Raf Manji.
Brownlee said to suggest he had been disengaged from the Ilam community was "completely wrong".

“I am very comfortable with the commitment and work I have done over the years but, as I say, the electorate has made another choice and that is fine - that’s democracy,” he said.

“I think what Raf Manji has conveniently forgot is that for the six years when I was earthquake recovery minister, I spent the majority of my time out here [Ilam].

"I was born in the Ilam electorate and have lived there all my life so I know it very well and I know the people very well,” he said.

There was speculation Brownlee would resign from Parliament after losing the race for the electorate.

However, he told reporters during a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday he would be staying on.

“Christchurch needs to have some National presence, and we don’t have that as of Saturday night, so I think there’s a job to be done there.”

 

 

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