Blumsky quitting 'tribal' politics

Last updated 00:00 25/09/2007
ROSS GIBLIN/Dominion Post
TOO TRIBAL: National MP Mark Blumsky is joining the exodus from Parliament next year, admitting he arrived unprepared for the tribal nature of national politics.

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National MP Mark Blumsky is joining the exodus from Parliament next year, admitting he arrived unprepared for the tribal nature of national politics.

A tilt at the Wellington mayoralty in three years now looks likely, with Mr Blumsky saying of his two terms as mayor: "It was one of the best jobs I ever had. It's the coalface, you're in the real world. I do believe Parliament sometimes is its own world.

"You lose touch - you've got security guards galore, machines galore. It is its own little bubble."

The 2008 election will spark an exodus of MPs.

Speaker Margaret Wilson is expected to announce early next year that she is retiring from Parliament for an academic post, with speculation centred on a senior position at either Waikato University or Auckland University of Technology.

The announcement of electorate boundaries today may force others to declare their hand, including National's Brian Connell, suspended from caucus for undermining former leader Don Brash, and whose Rakaia seat disappeared in draft boundary changes.

He has no hope of being selected by National.

But some high-profile Labour MPs are also threatened, including Justice Minister Mark Burton, who has denied he plans to retire.

Draft boundary changes turn his Taupo seat into a safe National seat on paper.

He may struggle to retain the justice portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle, which is likely next month, and could face an equally tough fight in what is expected to be a bloody Labour list selection.

Three MPs have already quit this term - former Labour cabinet minister Jim Sutton; former National leader Don Brash and Labour's Georgina Beyer.

Labour MPs Marian Hobbs, Paul Swain, Dover Samuels, Dianne Yates and Anne Hartley are already signalling their departures at the next election.

Dumped cabinet minister David Benson-Pope has been given the message that his colleagues don't want him back and other Labour MPs face a fight for selection, including Mita Ririnui, Russell Fairbrother, George Hawkins and Jill Pettis.

NZ First MP Brian Donnelly has signalled he wants a diplomatic posting.

Mr Blumsky is a first-term MP and National had high hopes of him wresting theWellington Central seat off Labour. But his campaign got off to a bad start over a late-night incident in a stairwell that left him covered in blood.

Mr Blumsky said it took him just a year to realise national politics was not for him.

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"My experience is that Parliament is "them and us" and it is fair to say that I have sometimes struggled to operate in such a partisan atmosphere.

"It's very tribal. My problem is I quite like Marian (Hobbs) and I quite like (Rongotai MP) Annette (King) - and Damien (O'Connor) and I went to school together.

"I treat them as genuine friends and that doesn't go down very well. That's me being naive. But I don't 'hate' very well. And sometimes it's been said you have to hate to get ahead."

- The Dominion Post

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