19 Oct 2020

'Yo-yo MP' Maureen Pugh not counting on bounce from special votes

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 19 October 2020

She calls herself the "yo-yo MP".

National's Maureen Pugh is trapped yet again in the revolving door of politics, not knowing for sure whether she is in Parliament, or out.

This is the third time the West Coaster has been caught in limbo.

In 2014 she made it in via the party list on election night but was out after the special votes were counted.

In 2017 it was the same story: In on the night, out on specials, which do not tend to favour National.

Pugh finally got over the line in 2018 when Bill English resigned.

Right now she is the last National MP on the list to make it to Parliament, but with specials still to come, Pugh is standing by to be jettisoned.

"I actually thought this might have been third time lucky. But no… Definitely déjà vu. And so I am under no illusions what is going to happen with the specials are counted.

"It looks like that's going to happen again, although I'm not quite sure whether we will have enough wriggle room this time, because it's a very short list.

"I'm pretty resigned to it. But like I say, I've been here before. It's just the nature of the beast, the MMP environment. The special votes - there's quite a few of them this time, I believe about 480,000.

"And if National gets 25 or 26 percent of those, it means that a big chunk have gone to other parties and they will probably increase their capacity within their MP pool, which means we will decrease."

Pugh said she was almost assured she would be out of Parliament.

"As has happened in the past, [I'm] never sure how long that's for, but because we are a very small party list now and likely to get smaller, whether there is an opportunity to come back in is the really the big unknown for me."

However, if veteran MPs Gerry Brownlee or Nick Smith decide to quit, Pugh has a chance.

But she was not hoping for that.

"When I came in after the last election, it was because Bill English resigned, and I would never have wished that on us.

"And so the same with Gerry and Nick. They've been very good friends, great colleagues, Nick is my partner electorate MP and he's been a great mentor and support to me, and so has his team and his office in Nelson.

"So I'm not going to wish that on them. And as for me, you know, I'm quite happy to go home back to the farm and just sit and wait it out. And I don't wish any ill on any of my colleagues.

"My loyalty is to my community, the community of the West Coast and Tasman. You can't give that away and substitute it for something else. I'll never be able to give that away or leave it go.

"But going home to the farm is not a punishment either. Spending time with my husband and family. My daughter, she's needed me a lot more this year than I've been able to give her.

"I call myself the yo-yo MP. I'm up and down, up and down, up and down.

"I was hoping to yo up, rather than yo down this time, but it's going to do it. I'm sure of it.

"I might yo-yo back up again, who knows, but it's not going to be the end of the world as I know it, but it will be the end of a job as I have known it and loved doing.

"It's just one of those things when you get into this game, you understand the rules.

"I could get all bitter and twisted about it. But I'm the only one that's going to impact."