Ex-RBNZ head shoo-in for NZ parliament

Graeme Peters,WELLINGTON, Reuters

Former Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor Don Brash is “guaranteed” to be in the country’s next parliament after the July 27 election, the main opposition National Party said on Sunday.

Releasing National’s list ranking of 65 candidates with Brash at number five, party leader Bill English said he was proud to have one of New Zealand’s most credible economic thinkers as a highly-placed list candidate.

“Don Brash is guaranteed to be in parliament after the election,” English told reporters.

The man known as one of the most hawkish inflation fighters in the world quit as governor in April after 14 years as his country’s most powerful non-elected public officials, saying he had decided to put himself at the mercy of voters again.

Though a shoo-in as an MP, Brash’s chances of being part of a conservative National led government appear slim at present.

Prime Minister Helen Clark last week called a general election four months early, buoyed by ratings that showed her Labour Party is almost twice as popular as its nearest rival due to economic growth of around three percent a year, two years of bumper exports and unemployment at 13-year lows.

Reuters’ three-poll moving average gives Clark’s centre-left party 53 percent support — 14 percentage points more than it polled at the last election in November 1999 and almost double the 28 percent support for National.

National, which ruled New Zealand outright or in coalition for much of the ‘90s, currently has 39 Members of Parliament and at current polling would win about 34 MPs on July 27.

English, who is number one on National’s list, would not say if Brash would take responsibility after the election for finance from number four ranked David Carter.

“That’s a matter that I’ll decide after the election, but clearly (Brash) is someone who knows more about the New Zealand economy than pretty well anyone else in New Zealand,” English said.

National’s campaign is built around cutting income tax rates, restoring the fighter wing of the air force scrapped last year by Labor, and setting a deadline for the filing of grievance claims by the indigenous Maori people.

Brash has said his return to politics — he ran unsuccessfully for National in the early ‘80s — was not driven by disagreement with the current government or boredom, but by a desire to see New Zealand do better at creating jobs, trimming welfare dependency, fighting crime, and soothing racial divisions.

Under New Zealand’s German-style Mixed Member Proportional voting system, a registered voter has two votes — one for candidates in 69 electorates and another for a political party to be represented in the single-chamber Parliament.

The party vote elects a further 51 MP’s selected from parties’ list to ensure proportionality over the whole 120-seat Parliament.