More National retirements

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

list MP Chris Auchinvole has confirmed he is one of a number of MPs planning to step down at next year’s general election.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain said on Monday he would not contest the Napier seat he has held for almost a decade. …

Other MPs expected to stand aside are Invercargill MP Eric Roy and Hunua MP Paul Hutchison, who are both 65.

Auchie will be missed. A wonderful guy wit a great sense of humour.

I always have mixed feelings when an MP announces they are retiring. On a personal level I feel sad, because the majority of MPs are really decent people and make good contributions to Parliament. However on a political level I welcome the because a political party that doesn’t renew will struggle to get re-elected.

At present I can honestly say there isn’t a single National MP that I dislike and want gone. Being lucky enough to get to know many of them reasonably well, I appreciate the contributions they all make.

However as I said, the demand for renewal is important, especially when there is limited opportunity to gain additional MPs (hard to increase the vote very much from 47.5%!). The public have shown they will not keep voting for the same faces time and time again, unless there are some new faces coming through also.

So renewal takes place at two levels – cabinet and caucus.

At the cabinet level, John Key has shown he is determined to have renewal. In almost a first, he dropped two Ministers at the beginning of this year, to allow new Ministers to come through. This is very rare. Normally Ministers only go mid-term when they have done something wrong (and neither had). This was a very encouraging sign. It is possible there could be another cabinet reshuffle early next year as there are certainly some good backbenchers waiting in the wings to become Ministers who should be given the chance.

Renewal at caucus level can be more challenging, as that only really gets done at election time. Ideally you want MPs to decide for themselves if their spell has been long enough, and as Chris and Chris have done make an announcement around a year out from an election.

If an MP is an electorate MP, they can of course be challenged and National has a proud history of allowing members to decide the local representative without head office getting a vote. John Key and Judith Collins both won their seats by challenging an incumbent.

The list is the other area of renewal. In previous elections the caucus has been mainly protected on the list, with all but a handful of new candidates ranked below current MPs. Doing so helps maintain the stability of a Government. However it has a price to pay in not having enough renewal. My hope is that the PM will make clear to the party that in 2014 the caucus should not be automatically protected in list ranking. This doesn’t mean that they don’t all get winnable spots. It means that you only over-ride the regional rankings by members unless there are exceptionally good reasons to do so. We won’t get good candidates coming forward on the list if they see the top 55 or so spots are already taken up.

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