Ron Mark back with NZ First
NZ First MP Andrew Williams is set to be dumped to a seemingly unelectable position on the party list, and former MP Ron Mark is set to rejoin the party ahead of the general election.
Stuff understands a draft copy of the NZ First list, determined by the party's selection committee last weekend, has Williams ranked at 13 and Mark at 9.
The draft list is understood to have MP Richard Prosser ranked at No 3.
Prosser became infamous in 2013 for writing in his regular column in Investigate magazine, that all young Muslim men - or those who "look" Muslim - should be barred from flying on Western airlines. The rights of New Zealanders were being "denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan", Prosser wrote. He later apologised for the comments.
NZ First leader Winston Peters was ranked at No 1, and deputy leader Tracey Martin was at No 2 automatically under the party's constitution.
Prosser would not confirm his ranking, saying there would be an official announcement in the next couple of days.
Williams was No 3 on the party list at the 2011 election.
NZ First would need to get more than 10 per cent of the vote on election night for Williams to return to Parliament.
Williams said his ranking on the list came as "a bolt out of the blue".
"I think most people would agree around Parliament I've been a pretty able MP," he said.
"I've performed for the party, I've done a lot of hard work for the party and I've represented the party as well as I could."
The ranking was no reflection of his ability or contribution, but attributable to internal party politics, Williams said.
"I've had the most portfolios of any MP. I've had 11, plus I've been an associate to Winston on foreign affairs, trade, SOEs and finance," he said.
"So I've had a very heavy workload, and the portfolios I've had have been pretty solid ones, like local government, veterans' affairs, conservation, environment, energy; all of which I've been solidly batting on."
Williams said he would like to know what the selection committee's criteria were for selecting the top 10 candidates for the party.
He had sought an explanation for the drop but had not received a response.
Getting back into Parliament after the election was not out of the question, he said, as NZ First had had 17 MPs in the past.
"It's not out of the realm, but it's starting to get into the area where it would be somewhat difficult," he said.
"I hope we do. I hope I am able to get back in and come back in with double-digit numbers of MPs. That would be great."
Williams was elected to Parliament as a list MP in the 2011 election. He is a former mayor of North Shore City.
NZ First's Wairarapa electorate committee announced Mark as its electorate candidate this afternoon.
Committee chairman George Groombridge said Mark had significant local and central government experience and a passion for issues that affected Wairarapa.
"A strong leader, formidable in debate and determined to put Wairarapa first, we look forward to seeing experienced, quality representation returning to this electorate," Groombridge said.
Mark was a list MP from the 1996 election until NZ First failed to retain any seats in Parliament in the 2008 election.
He was elected mayor of Carterton in 2010 and retained the position in the 2013 election.
Mark said he had no comment on the NZ First list, and he had not seen a draft version.
Former MP Pita Paraone is also speculated to be rejoining NZ First.
Peters would not comment on the candidate rankings as the process was confidential, but said the release of the list was imminent.