Local MPs withstand swing to left

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By ROBYN BRISTOW

The Waimakariri and Kaikoura electorates remained blue in a sea of red on Saturday night, but not before some anxious moments for National’s sitting members of Parliament.

Matt Doocey, in the Waimakariri electorate, and Stuart Smith, in Kaikoura, hung on to what had been considered safe seats before election night, but their margins were slashed.

Mr Doocey’s 10,799-vote majority in 2017, was cut by nearly 9000 votes, with the provisional count showing him 1976 ahead of Labour’s Dan Rosewarne.

Matt Doocey

Mr Smith’s 2017 majority of 10,553 was whittled by about two-thirds by Labour’s Matt Flight to 2282.

While the voters re-elected the sitting MPs, the party vote belonged to Labour in both electorates, particularly in the Waimakariri seat, where party support fell from the 57.6 percent to the mid-20s.

Mr Doocey says he is humbled by the support given to him, and is optimistic about the future.

“It is an opportunity to step up and I will definitely be doing that.

“My personal vote was double my party vote. That says to me that people have valued the work I have put in over the time I have been in Parliament.

People voted for continuity. Internal discipline within the National Party did not help the party’s cause, he said.

“Quite simply, if people think we can’t manage ourselves, they are not going to trust us to manage the country,” Mr Doocey says.

Stuart Smith

It was the first election he had faced without the Green party in the mix in the Waimakariri electorate, which he believes accounted for about 2000 votes going to Labour.

“There was a bit more squeeze there, and I had been told by farmers, not just local ones, they would be voting Labour to keep the Greens out, and their wealth tax.”

He was back in Wellington on Monday attending to his duties as whip, organising the induction of the five new National MPs, before the first caucus meeting of around 32 members on Tuesday. Nineteen members were farewelled retirees and those who missed out on election night.

Meanwhile, Mr Rosewarne is unsure about his political future after running so close to Matt Doocey.

He is two spots away from coming in on the Labour Party list, with about 480,000 special votes to be counted.

He is counting on many of those favouring Labour.

His fortune may also hang on the outcome in the Waiariki electorate, where Maori Party candidate Rawiri Waititi has a 421-vote lead over Labour’s Tamati Coffey.

Meanwhile, it was back to his day job on Monday, after taking time off since March.
He is an army officer working for the Defence Force and is currently looking after those
in Covid-19 isolation.

Further north, Mr Smith said the personal support he received was gratifying in
what was at first a tense time on election night, as his fortunes fluctuated in the
vote.

‘‘It is disappointing it wasn’t a bit more,’’ he said of his support, ‘‘but that is democracy.
‘‘You have to accept what voters give you.’’