Wednesday, 25 November 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Scott Simpson resists the red wave to secure a fourth term

The Coromandel’s newly re-elected MP has credited his work over the past nine years and his strong relationships with constituents for saving his job in the face of the “red tide” that swept across New Zealand and left his staunchly blue constituency looking decidedly purple.

After last Saturday’s general election, Scott Simpson will return to Parliament for a fourth term where he has vowed to continue to be a passionate advocate for the Coromandel. Alongside that, he said, will be a major rethink and rebuild process for the National Party after what was a “crushing defeat.”

For the first time since 2002, the Labour Party topped the party vote in the Coromandel electorate, attracting 43 per cent of voters, a massive jump from the 28 percent received three years ago. National took 34 percent, a seismic drop from its 51 percent share in 2017. Although Labour candidate, Nathaniel Blomfield, slashed Mr Simpson’s 14,300 vote margin three years ago to just 4,200, the relatively comfortable win remained a rare highlight on a bleak night for the National Party that saw a long line-up of serving MPs ousted from their so-called true-blue seats.

Mr Simpson ended Saturday night’s count on 19,241 compared to 15,035 for Mr Blomfield. The numbers may move slightly when special votes are counted. The Green’s Pamela Grealey finished third with 2,656 votes.

“I’m feeling humbled and extremely grateful that we have been able to stave off the red tide in the Coromandel electorate during what has been a stunning result for Jacinda Ardern,” Mr Simpson told The Informer.

Asked why he thought people who did not vote National this time still gave him the tick, Mr Simpson said, “I consider that a personal compliment and I think it reflects the work and effort that I have put in over the past nine years. I love my job, I love what I do. It is satisfying at a personal level to be able to help and assist constituents. Most of all, I love the opportunity to be an ambassador for the Coromandel Peninsula, which I think is the most beautiful place in the country.”

Acknowledging the support and commitment of the hundreds of volunteers who worked hard during the campaign, Mr Simpson said he was “sanguine” about the outcome and his party’s poor performance consigning him to the opposition benches for another three years. “I’ve been involved with the National Party since I was a teenager,” he said. “I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs, and I’ve also seen the cycles that happen within politics. When it’s your turn, it’s your turn.”

Mr Simpson maintained the severity of the drubbing may even help National in the long run as it would fuel the changes required. “It’s an opportunity for us to have a good, hard look at ourselves,” he said. “I was part of the overview that was done in 2002 after what was our biggest ever loss. That was almost 20 years ago, so I think it is probably time, it’s a healthy thing to do, especially now. There is nothing like a big, punishing loss to focus your thinking.”

Mr Simpson said he believed the review needed to look at everything from structures and strategies, to staff and values. “We need to pretty much start over and go back to square one,” he said.

As attention now turns to what a Labour government with such a huge mandate can deliver, Mr Simpson said the Coromandel needs more attention and he will be loudly seeking it. Unsurprisingly, roads are top of his list. “We (the previous National-led government) had two big road infrastructure projects ready to go, Pokeno to Mangatarata, the front driveway to the Coromandel, and Waihi to Tauranga which were cancelled by the Labour Party as soon as they got in,” he said. “We also want to see our rescue helicopter come back and then of course we have the three one-lane bridges in Tairua which we want to see upgraded. I will be continuing to raise issues relating to the Coromandel which has been neglected and ignored over the past three years.”

In the meantime, it’s back to Wellington to talk about his party’s future and say goodbye to a large number of caucus colleagues.

Pictured: Newly re-elected MP for Coromandel, Scott Simpson, took the opportunity to say thank you for a fourth term in Parliament when he visited Coromandel Zipline Tours at Driving Creek Railway last Sunday.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.