Fag firm’s PR man to be Queenstown’s new MP

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A cigarette company public relations manager will succeed deputy-prime minister Bill English as the new MP to represent Queenstown.

Todd Barclay, 24, was this morning announced as the National Party’s candidate for the blue-ribbon Clutha-Southland seat at September 20’s general election.

Inheriting a 16,000-vote majority from his predecessor English, Barclay is virtually certain to romp in in the safe National seat.

Four Queenstowners unsuccessfully put their hats in the ring against Barclay – Mark Wilson and Simon Flood were short-listed while Russell Mawhinney and Craig Allan failed to make the cut.

Mountain Scene’s was Barclay’s first media call after his selection was announced.

Unprompted, Barclay was quick to explain why he’s been working in Wellington for eight months as corporate affairs manager for global cigarette giant Philip Morris.

“I took the role as a personal development step,” Barclay says.

“I needed a job at the time but I also learnt an incredible amount from the company in terms of government relations, media relations and also community and stakeholder relations.”

Barclays says working for Philip Morris in such a “a highly-regulated environment” was a means to an end:

“My goal has always been committed to politics and in order to do that, I needed private sector experience.”

Raised in Dipton – English’s home hamlet – and Gore, Barclay earlier worked in both Wellington and Auckland doing public relations for English and fellow cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee.

A graduate of Victoria University, Barclay holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Commercial Law.

And nope, he’s not a smoker – never has been, never will be.

“I’ve had one or two casual cigarettes but I’ve never purchased a packet of cigarettes and I never will,” Barclay says.

Barclay’s live-in partner Caroline Trewhitt is a global regulatory strategist at Fonterra.

Once elected, Barclay says he’ll live in Gore – because he has “close family” there and “it’s also the geographic centre of the electorate”, one of the country’s largest by area.