English calls time as Clutha MP
Bill English is to step down as the Clutha-Southland MP next year after 24 years representing the electorate, but has no plans to retire from politics.
The deputy prime minister and finance minister, Mr English will remain in politics, and instead seek nomination for the National Party list at the 2014 election.
Mr English, who lives in Wellington, said representing the large Clutha-Southland electorate had required considerable travel and time away from his family, particularly after he became a minister.
With four of his six children having left home, he wanted to strike a better balance between family life and political commitments.
When next year's election rolls around he would have represented first the Wallace, and then the Clutha-Southland electorates for 24 years.
He was 28 when first elected to the Wallace electorate in the south and he is now 51.
"We [the family] just decided I needed a better balance. I don't want to be in a position where I am letting people down, either at home or in the electorate," he said from Gore where he broke the news to his committee team yesterday.
He travels to his Clutha-Southland electorate "every two or three weeks", making for a busy schedule with his other government commitments, he said.
Although he had been "stretched" at times, he believed he had managed "pretty well up until now".
"I have had consistent support through the good times and bad times but [next year] is the opportunity for the National Party to put a good candidate on the ground who will be able to be present more than I am."
He had seen the electorate dig itself out of grim times through the late 1980s and early 90s, "to the point where there is now good confidence in the future", he said.
Achievements included the community ownership of the electorate's heath services which had been "very successful", he said.
"I have enjoyed really getting to know the national park conservation issues, I have had more than 80 schools in the electorate and enjoyed seeing the quality of the education improve, but the best thing has been the very big economic changes in the electorate that underpin confidence in the future."
Dairy farming had transformed the Clutha-Southland electorate, Mr English said.
"It's the result of people making sensible economic decisions and it turns out we are pretty good at it."
The meat and wool industry had also made major advances in production, genetics and farm management in the past 25 years.
Mr English, married with six children aged 14-25, said he had no regrets in his time as Clutha-Southland MP.
He still owns a farm, and the home he was raised in, at Dipton.
He believes he will get more time to spend in Southland when he is no longer representing the electorate, and plans to use that time by tackling southern walking tracks.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife about the political future of 65-year-old Invercargill MP Eric Roy, who remains elusive on the topic.
Mr Roy said yesterday he had no reason to say he would not stand again at next year's election. But he would make his decision early next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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