His announcement follows reports of a major bid by corporate high-flyer Nicola Willis to challenge Foster-Bell for selection. Willis has been an advisor to former Prime Minister John Key and is understood to have his backing.
Foster-Bell said he informed local National Party members of his decision on Sunday.
I’ve known Paul since he was a Young National, and it would be hard to find a more likable guy. Paul and I used to share an office in Parliament when we were both staffers, and we were both on the respective national councils of the Republican Movement and Monarchy NZ, which led to some great conversations. Paul went on to a distinguished career in MFAT and to my good fortune was First Secretary in Iran when I was doing a holiday in the Middle East. So Paul hosted me in Iran, which was the start of my love affair with the country and its people (not the Government).
Paul has been an MP for only four years but managed to get a law change through Parliament, allowing RSA clubs to serve alcohol on ANZAC Day without needing a special licence – a very popular change that was supported unanimously in Parliament.
While sad to see Paul retire, I am delighted to see Nicola Willis (also a former colleague and friend) standing for Parliament. I think Nicola will be an excellent MP. She was a very forceful and respected staffer in Parliament, and since then has risen up the ranks in Fonterra, where she is currently the General Manager of Nutrient Management. Nicola is also the mum of four young kids.