Keen in­ter­est in He­len’s job

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

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