The doc­tor is stay­ing in the house

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - CHERIE SIVIGNON

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.

DEAN KOZANIC/STUFF

Nick Smith, left, Bill English and Roger Sowry in 1999.

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