Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay's commitment to Gore heartland questioned
Embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay has been accused of neglecting the Gore heartland of his electorate in favour of the "glamour and glitz" of Queenstown.
However, Barclay said he was committed to serving all parts of his electorate.
It is understood the work hours of the electorate agent in Barclay's Queenstown office have increased from about 20 hours a week to 40; and the hours of his electorate agent in the Gore office have been reduced from 40 to 20.
Electorate agents do work for constituents in the areas they are employed.
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Gore has long been considered the heartland of the Clutha-Southland electorate and is located near its centre, while the Gore office has traditionally been the electorate hub.
Barclay's decision to have an increased staffing presence in Queenstown, at the apparent expense of Gore, was "very significant", a party member said.
"It does make a statement about what he regards as being important as far as his electorate is concerned.
"He is moving away from his support base really ... he is certainly moving away from the heart of the electorate."
Barclay was fond of the "glamour and glitz" of Queenstown, while farmers were "a bit down the scale as far as he is concerned", the party member said.
Barclay did not respond directly to these criticisms when answering questions by email.
Nor did he directly respond when asked if he planned to make Queenstown his base.
Barclay, who has been under scrutiny following a spate of resignations from his team, did say, however, that he was committed to serving all parts of his electorate and having offices in the three main centres of Gore, Queenstown, and Balclutha.
He did not address questions about the changing work hours of his electorate agents, but he said the staff hours in each of the three electorate offices had been either maintained or increased since he became the MP in 2014.
"I am focused on working hard to ensure those who contact me or my office get access to the advice or assistance they need."
He spent "roughly" just over half his time between Gore, Queenstown, and Balclutha, with the balance of his time across the remaining 31 towns and communities in Clutha-Southland.
He was committed to being out and about in the Clutha-Southland electorate, attending events right across the electorate and talking to constituents when he was not fulfilling his duties in Parliament in Wellington, he said.
The Gore and Queenstown electorate agent positions are being taken on by new employees following the resignations of Barbara Swan in Queenstown and Glenys Dickson, in controversial circumstances, in the Gore office.
Meanwhile, a third staff member of Barclay's has resigned.
Barclay said it would be inappropriate to comment on employment matters.
But his senior executive assistant in Wellington confirmed she was leaving to travel overseas on an OE.
The staff member said she had signalled her intentions to Barclay more than a year ago.
The resignations of four people surrounding Barclay this year, the staffers in Queenstown, Gore and Wellington and the National Party's Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie, has raised questions about how Barclay relates to employees and party officials.
It was reported earlier this month that police had since become involved in the circumstances surrounding Dickson's resignation from the Gore office.
It is believed to relate to unproven allegations of a secret recording made by Barclay.