Queenstown’s next MP looks like being the youngest in Parliament – but he has a lot to learn about the Wakatipu.
Ex-big tobacco PR man Todd Barclay will be just 24 when he almost certainly wins National’s safe Clutha-Southland seat – which includes the Wakatipu – in September’s election. It has a 16,000 majority inherited from outgoing MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.
However, the Nats’ smoking young gun is clueless when it comes to who’s who in the Wakatipu – admitting this week he had no idea who the mayor or council chief executive are. In a Mountain Scene quiz, greenhorn Barclay also failed to identify Ngai Tahu Tourism as owner of world-famous attraction Shotover Jet, plastered over the media weeks ago during a visit by the Royals.
TV3 political editor Patrick Gower confirms Barclay is younger than any present MP – by six years: “A free ride into Parliament and all the perks at his age – not bad work if you can get it. National is into rejuvenation but this is next-level – Barclay will be hitting his prime in 2045.”
Barclay beat four rivals, including locals Mark Wilson and Simon Flood.
Wilson says of Barclay: “You’ve gotta give the young fella credit – he’s quite young, he’s had a crack, he got there.
“It was a good learning experience, I respect the outcome and I’ll support Todd and the party,” Wilson pledges.
Barclay compliments his losing rivals: “They will make brilliant politicians. I encourage them to pursue their dream.”
Barclay has high-level National Party connections. Not only was he raised in Dipton – English’s home – and in Gore, Barclay did PR work in Auckland and Wellington for English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee.
Queenstown’s next MP promises to go into bat for the Wakatipu: “Absolutely.Queenstown’s unique, it’s unique for our electorate and it’s also unique for NZ.
“It’s a significant part of our economy for the contribution to tourism.”
Barclay will live in Gore – he’s got close family there “and it’s also the geographic centre of the electorate”.
Voters needn’t worry Barclay’s become a chain smoker after eight months as corporate affairs manager for global cigarette giant Philip Morris.
“I’ve had one or two casual cigarettes but never purchased a packet and I never will,” Barclay says.
Barclay’s Qtown quiz fail
Todd Barclay, Queenstown’s next MP, admits he’s got a lot to learn about the economic powerhouse of his electorate – the Wakatipu.
Barclay points out he only won his nomination this week and will make it “a priority” to get to know Queenstown, its people and its issues.
Mountain Scene popped 10 general-knowledge questions to the newly-anointed National Party candidate – and he struggled.
The resort’s next MP scored just five correct answers out of 10, compared with his defeated Queenstown rival Mark Wilson’s 10 out of 10. Outgoing MP Bill English also scored 9.5 out of 10 in a similar Mountain Scene quiz in 2007.
Queenstowner Wilson offers Barclay his assistance.
“I’m happy to help him learn about Queenstown,” Wilson says. “I want him to do the best job he can for where we live.”
Scene’s quiz – and Barclay’s answers:
MOUNTAIN SCENE: Name the Queenstown knight who owns a controlling interest in NZ Ski.
TODD BARCLAY: “Ah, it’s not Sir Eion Edgar, is it?” (WRONG)
MS: Who owns Millbrook Resort?
BARCLAY: “No, I’m not sure.”
MS: Name Queenstown Lakes District Council’s boss.
BARCLAY: “I don’t know the answer to that question – but I will find out. There are about eight or nine local bodies in the electorate and I don’t know who everybody is yet.”
MS: What’s the name of Lake Wakatipu’s famed steamship?
BARCLAY: “The Earnslaw.” (CORRECT)
MS: Who owns Shotover Jet?
BARCLAY: “No, I don’t know.”
MS: Name our local mayor.
BARCLAY: “Geddes, is it? I’m not sure, I’m sorry.” (WRONG)
MS: Name Queenstown’s two closest skifields.
BARCLAY: “Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.” (CORRECT)
MS: Who owns Queenstown’s two casinos?
BARCLAY: “SkyCity.” (CORRECT)
MS: Where’s Queenstown’s Hilton Hotel?
BARCLAY: “Just beside the Kawarau [Falls] Bridge.” (CORRECT)
MS: How many lanes does that bridge have?
BARCLAY: “One.” (CORRECT)
THE ANSWERS: 1 Sir John Davies, 2 Japan’s Ishii family, 3 Adam Feeley, 4 Earnslaw, 5 Ngai Tahu Tourism, 6 Vanessa van Uden, 7 Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, 8 SkyCity, 9 Kawarau Falls, 10 One