'Getting to know you' priority for Barclay

NEW CANDIDATE: The National candidate for Clutha-Southland Todd Barclay celebrating his new role with Caroline Trewhitt.
NEW CANDIDATE: The National candidate for Clutha-Southland Todd Barclay celebrating his new role with Caroline Trewhitt.

The new National candidate for Clutha-Southland has reassured those in South Otago that he will not be picking favourites within the electorate.

Todd Barclay, who was raised in Dipton and Gore, has been chosen to fill Bill English's shoes for the upcoming election.

He said he had received the impression from the party delegates across the electorate, but particularly in South Otago, that some were worried about being overlooked.

"They were concerned the focus was not going to be on them and they were going to be underserved, I just want to say ... that South Otago is a significant part of the electorate."

He was "absolutely committed" to the whole of Clutha-Southland and was going to do his best to spread his time as evenly as possible, he said.

Barclay was basing himself in Gore because he had family living there and it was the geographical centre of the electorate.

He identified employment as one of the biggest issues in Clutha at the moment with the closure of Rosebank sawmill, but he understood the mayor was working hard to help those who had lost jobs, he said.

Telford was another issue he mentioned. "The constant talk around wanting to fully move Telford services to Lincoln, I think is an issue because Telford does a fantastic job in the South Otago area and it's the only institution that can train our local people in terms of agriculture."

If 23-year-old Barclay won the seat, he would become one of the youngest National MPs in decades, but he rejected the idea he was too young for politics, citing Bill English, Nick Smith and Tony Ryall as all being in their 20s when they entered parliament.

"My challenge is going to be building the trust and the respect of the electorate and building my name recognition, and so that's really going to be my focus."

But Barclay believed his background would stand him in good stead.

After attending Gore High School, he moved to Wellington to study commercial law at Victoria University and while there he interned in Bill English's office.

"It was there I got an understanding and exposed to what the role of an MP really is."

People often approached their MP when they were at the "end of their tether" and were finding it difficult to navigate the system, Barclay said.

"So it was quite rewarding really, if you could deliver a solution for them."

Barclay also worked for Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee before moving into public relations and eventually the job of corporate affairs manager at tobacco company Philip Morris.

But he would not miss his old job, he said.

"I needed to get experience across a range of different areas in order to bring it back to politics and that is what drove me to take the job at Philip Morris ... it doesn't call into question my ethics."

Barclay was looking forward to his new role. "My priority at the moment is getting around all the electorate."