The Herald is profiling some backbenchers. Today is Mark Mitchell, MP for Rodney:
You’ve been in Parliament three years, so what’s the best advice you can give to a new MP?
The best advice I got – and I applied it throughout my whole life – was that when you are embarking on a new job or a new challenge, it is really important to listen, to watch and listen and pick up as much as you can and then start applying what you’ve learned and do the best that you can.
What would be your dream portfolio if you were ever in Cabinet?
My dream portfolio would be trade. I’m deeply passionate about trade and that’s really what drove me back home to get involved in politics. I see the future of our country is tied directly to how well we can continue to trade with the rest of the world.
What do you mean “drove me back home?”
I had my own company when I lived in the Middle East. My company was operating in a lot of emerging markets that are fairly important for New Zealand and I felt we could have been doing better. We were living in Kuwait and basically my wife said to me one day, ‘stop moaning about it and do something about it’. I reflected on it and thought the contribution I could make would be to return home and get involved in politics.
What sort of company was it?
There were two parts to it. I was involved on the management board of a global logistics company, one of the top 10. It was in about 120 countries with about 500 offices with about 30,000 employees. The second part was a security risk management company I formed myself, which was in about 14 countries, and had about 3000 employees which I was the chairman and CEO of. In 2010, when I decided to come back, the company was sold.
So Mark formed and ran a company with 3,000 employees. Very impressive.
Have you got a goal for 2015?
A goal in terms of my electorate is to continue to advance Penlink, which is an important infrastructure project that links the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, back into State Highway One. Locally, I’ve also begun a holistic review of what investment is required to keep our services in line with the amount of growth we are expected to absorb. About a third of all current residential building consents lodged at the Auckland Council are for Rodney. In terms of personal goals politically, I would like to obviously pick up a ministerial portfolio, so I will continue to work hard and show I am capable of taking on that responsibility. And in terms of personal goals, we are defending the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup title in the UK in 2015 and I’m the co-captain, with Damien O’Connor [Labour, West Coast-Tasman].
Mark’s majority in Rodney is 20,230. He got 24,519 votes and the Labour candidate 4,289!