18 Aug 2017

National chooses Barclay's replacement

11:30 am on 18 August 2017

The National Party has chosen its successor to fill disgraced MP Todd Barclay's shoes in the Clutha-Southland electorate.

National Party Clutha-Southland candidate Hamish Walker.

National's new Clutha-Southland candidate Hamish Walker Photo: Supplied / National Party

Mr Barclay withdrew as National's candidate for the electorate two months ago after allegations he made secret recordings of his electorate secretary.

National's local electorate committee has been holding a series of meetings to decide on the candidate for next month's election, and made its final decision on Wednesday night at a delegates' meeting in the Southland town of Winton.

Hamish Walker, 32, won the secret ballot, and previously ran for the party in the Dunedin South electorate in 2014.

Mr Walker, who lives in the Clutha-Southland electorate, is a business advisor who led a property management firm in Auckland before selling it ahead of his run at Dunedin.

Among other things, he has also been a commercial fisherman and a gold miner.

He was in a three-horse race against former Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden and WorkSafe assessment manager and Southland district councillor Nick Perham.

Before Mr Barclay, who is Parliament's youngest MP, the seat was held by now-Prime Minister Bill English.

It is considered a safe National seat. Some had joked before the meeting that even the sheep statue from Gore would win if it were selected as National's candidate.

"This electorate is pretty heavily National. Although people think they might vote somewhere else, when it comes to election day, they often revert," one woman said.

The new Clutha-Southland candidates: (from left) Hamish Walker, Vanessa van Uden and Nick Perham.

The Clutha-Southland candidate competition: Hamish Walker, left, Vanessa van Uden and Nick Perham Photo: Supplied

On his win, Mr Walker said he knew he would have to work very hard with just five weeks until the election.

"I've done over 10,000km to meet all the delegates and I look forward to proving their confidence has not been misplaced," he said.

Delegates and party members said the meeting was well-run and democratic.

"I've got to know Hamish over the past few weeks and he is definitely the right man for the job," a Queenstown delegate said.

"Vanessa van Uden is very good, but Hamish will work right across the whole of the electorate because he understands the two sides, tourism and farming," he said.

"He listens and that's what you need."

Asked about the Todd Barclay affair, members said it was unfortunate but they did not want to discuss it.

One woman said they had to put it behind them, move forward together and get behind the new candidate. Asked if there was work to do to regain the public's confidence, she was not sure.

Todd Barclay's Gore electorate office.

Todd Barclay's Gore electorate office when he was still National's candidate. He will remain in the seat until the election. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

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