National MP Todd Barclay facing selection challenge in Clutha-Southland
First-term National MP Todd Barclay is facing a selection challenge in his Clutha-Southland electorate, following a spate of resignations and local disquiet over his performance.
Barclay claims to be unworried about the reported challenge from former Merrill Lynch funds manager Simon Flood, saying "challenges come and go all the time".
Several resignations in Barclay's Clutha-Southland electorate towards the start of the year raised questions about the MP's relationship with his staff and party members.
Gore-based senior electorate agent Glenys Dickson resigned in February, with a party official citing an "employment problem" between the pair.
* National Party 'not investigating' Barclay resignations
* Disquiet over MP performance 'could spark challenge'
* Key backs MP over resignations
* Bill English: Clutha-Southland resignations part of 'transition'
* National party Clutha-Southland chairman Stuart Davie resigns
* Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay's senior staffer resigns
* Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay's Queenstown staffer also resigns
Later that month, National's Clutha-Southland electorate chairman Stuart Davie resigned, saying it was "untenable" for him to carry on, while Barclay's Queenstown-based electoral agent Barbara Swan resigned in January, reportedly to spend more time travelling and with family.
Stuff understands that the "employment problem" which led to Dickson's resignation relates to unproven allegations of a secret recording made by Barclay, although what was allegedly recorded is unclear.
A number of party sources expressed concerns at the time about Barclay's dealings with both his staff and his constituents.
The ODT has reported that Flood, a former Merrill Lynch funds manager who lives in Queenstown, is challenging Barclay.
Stuff understands that Barclay was selected as National's Clutha-Southland candidate for the 2014 election only after Flood, the favoured candidate, withdrew from the process due to family reasons.
'CHALLENGES COME AND GO'
Barclay said he had worked hard on rebuilding the electorate despite the resignations, and believed "we've got a lot to show in terms of achievements".
"There's obviously a disaffected aspect of former staff members who aren't too comfortable with change but...we've worked hard over the last three years, my team and I, and we've got a lot to show for it.
It was always going to be difficult, change is always difficult, so I'm just focussed on doing a good job for the electorate."
Barclay believed he had the support of his party in Clutha-Southland, and did not think Flood's candidacy would pose a serious threat.
"The beauty of the National Party is we're a democratic party, that's the foundation of who we are, and challenges come and go all the time...
"I love this job, I love my electorate, and I've put my soul and heart into it, and I want to do it again for the next three years."
'WE DON'T ENGINEER, STOP CHALLENGES' - KEY
Finance Minister Bill English, Barclay's predecessor in the Clutha-Southland seat, said he "appears to have done a good job". However, he would not endorse Barclay or comment on the selection.
"I don't have any comment, it's a matter for the party, they're doing a selection."
Prime Minister John Key was also reluctant to comment, saying "we don't get involved in all of that".
"We don't either engineer challenges or stop them: if someone ultimately decides that they're going to challenge a sitting MP, they're free to go and do that.
"If you're a sitting MP that's working hard, that's developing your electorate, let's be frank, the cards are stacked in your favour."