Rangitata National party candidate Andrew Falloon plans move to South Canterbury
National's pick to contest the Rangitata electorate in this year's election is planning to move to Timaru to get a better understanding of South Canterbury issues.
Wellington-based Andrew Falloon, a former advisor to Finance Minister Steven Joyce, was announced as the party's candidate following a selection meeting on Wednesday night.
He will replace incumbent MP Jo Goodhew, who earlier this year announced she would retire from politics at September's election.
His selection means Rangitata now has both major candidates confirmed, with Labour pick Jo Luxton selected last year.
Born and raised in Ashburton, Falloon was planning to make the move to Timaru before the election to be closer to the main urban centre of the electorate.
"I'm a local, I grew up in Ashburton, I spent a lot of time here ... so I think I've got a pretty good handle of most of the local issues, particularly in Mid Canterbury," Falloon said.
"With the larger population base in Timaru, I felt it was important to be representing both sides of the electorate."
The move would give more people the opportunity to access him, Falloon said.
"There are two halves to the electorate, Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury, so the way to deal with it is really to just be as fair as possible in where you spend your time."
Falloon planned to spend at least a day each in the Timaru and Ashburton offices if elected.
The economy would be one of the major focuses of his campaign.
"South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury have similar challenges in attracting quality staff," Falloon said.
"The big thing for me will be putting in infrastructure and making sure we get our fair share of infrastructure spending to make sure we can attract people with things, like ultra-fast broadband, to make sure people can work from anywhere."
That would enable people to be based in the Rangitata electorate while still successfully working on a national or international scale, he said.
Falloon had not always been a National Party member, having previously stood for ACT about 12 years ago.
In a candidate survey in 2005, he stated he supported legalising marijuana for medical use, decriminalising or legalising marijuana for recreational use, and allowing voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
He said then-National leader Don Brash was most similar to him in political views outside of the ACT party, as "he's a Liberal stuck in a conservative party".
Speaking on Thursday, Falloon said he no longer identified with Brash, whose own views had "moved to the extreme".
He no longer supported future legalisation of marijuana, or supported voluntary euthanasia as no proposals adequately addressed the risk of elder abuse.
"I was 21, at uni and saw the world as black and white."
Falloon said Rangitata had been "very fortunate" to have Goodhew as its MP, and wanted to make sure it had "strong representation" in the future.