Keen interest in Helen’s job
PHIL Twyford isn’t exactly a household name.
But it’s possible Mt Albert residents will get the chance to know the Labour list MP a whole lot better.
Mr Twyford is tipped to stand in former Prime Minister Helen Clark’s Mt Albert electorate if she resigns from Parliament, which would force a byelection.
Miss Clark, who has been the area’s MP for 28 years, has been shortlisted for the role of administrator of the United Nations Develop- ment Programme.
Mr Twyford, 45, wouldn’t comment on whether he’ll be throwing his hat in the ring should Miss Clark move on because “there isn’t a vacancy at the moment”.
But he did confirm to the Central Leader that he would like to be an electorate MP at some point after entering Parliament at number 26 on Labour’s list following the last election.
“I certainly would like to be accountable and have the privilege of representing a community. I will be looking for opportunities to do that.”
Mr Twyford is a resident of Kingsland, in the heart of the Mt Albert electorate.
He stood in the safe National seat of North Shore last year, losing to Cabinet minister Wayne Mapp by more than 14,000 votes.
He is a former chief executive of aid agency Oxfam’s New Zealand division and worked for the organisation in the United States from 1999 until 2004.
Another potential candidate for the seat, new Labour list MP Dr Rajen Prasad, didn’t return calls.
A spokesman for Miss Clark couldn’t confirm when she will find out if her application for the UN position has been accepted.
But one man who’s expecting a byelection is former National Party candidate for Mt Albert Ravi Musuku.
He’s reduced his hours as a pastor at Hillsborough Baptist Church to part-time in order to improve his profile in Mt Albert.
“I’ve made the decision I’m there for the long haul,” he says.
While he would have to be confirmed by National as their candidate if a byelec- tion is called, Mr Musuku feels he’s the number one choice to represent the party in the seat.
“I’m moving into a parttime role so I can give more time to the party and the electorate. My intentions are very clear and have been communicated to the party.”
And the possibility of going up against a sitting MP like Mr Twyford doesn’t bother him.
“I stood against the prime minister. Could there be any tougher candidate than that for me?” he says. “He’s a relatively new guy. I have been in the electorate for two elections, so people know me.”
Mr Musuku challenged Miss Clark in the 2005 and 2008 elections, reducing her majority in the electorate vote from 14,749 to 10,351 in the last election.
If a Labour list MP is elected in Mt Albert, their place is taken by the next person on the party’s list if the candidate decides they still want to enter Parliament.
The next three places on Labour’s list are filled by former MPs Damien O’Connor, Judith Tizard and Mark Burton.