The doctor is staying in the house
Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith might have entered Parliament with outgoing National Party leader Bill English but he does not intend to leave at the same time.
English yesterday announced his resignation as both National Party leader and an MP.
He is due to step down on February 27 and intends to deliver a valedictory speech in Parliament on March 1.
Like English, Smith was first elected to Parliament in 1990.
The pair, who are long-time friends, were part of a group of four dubbed the ‘‘brat pack’’ that also included fellow newbies Tony Ryall and Roger Sowry.
However, while English intends to leave Parliament, following in the footsteps of Sowry and Ryall, Smith plans to stay put.
‘‘When my name goes on the ballot paper [it means] I’m going to give the Nelson community my all for three years,’’ Smith said.
As he had done for every election cycle, Smith planned to give ‘‘careful consideration’’ mid term to whether he would be prepared to be a candidate for the 2020 election.
However, he did say he would not be putting his name forward as a potential leader of the National Party. ‘‘Of course not.’’ The National Party caucus was going to run a ‘‘professional process’’ to choose the next leader but Smith said he would be keeping ‘‘those thoughts to myself’’.
Smith said he wanted to pay a ‘‘huge tribute’’ to the contribution English had made to New Zealand, including his roles as leader of the party, finance minister, health minister and prime minister.
‘‘I think, he has served our country well.’’
English’s former roles as health and finance minister gave him a perspective for understanding how to grow the economy and still provide for social services, Smith said.
The pair entered Parliament during an ‘‘incredibly tumultuous’’ period, following the free-market reforms of Rogernomics in the 1980s.
Tensions were high in Parliament and caucuses, including the National Party caucus, Smith said.
In contrast, over the past 10 years in particular, the National Party caucus had been ‘‘a joy’’ to work in.
Nick Smith, left, Bill English and Roger Sowry in 1999.