Foss in bid to go another round for Tukituki

By Doug Laing doug.laing@hbtoday.co.nz

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Craig Foss on election night 2005 when he first became MP for Tukituki. He  has been confirmed as candidate for 2017, seeking a fifth consecutive term. Photo / File
Craig Foss on election night 2005 when he first became MP for Tukituki. He has been confirmed as candidate for 2017, seeking a fifth consecutive term. Photo / File

The race for Hastings-based Tukituki at next year's General Election is officially on with National MP Craig Foss's confirmation of an attempt at a fifth term since first being elected in 2005.

The National Party confirmed the 53-year-old's selection as the candidate after he was the only person up for the job when nominations closed on Monday.

The Labour Party ensured an early start to campaigning in June when it announced Anna Lorck would be its candidate again, having stood unsuccessfully against Mr Foss in 2014.

Coming from a career in the banking industry, Mr Foss has been National's candidate continuously since 2002, never challenged for the party job but unsuccessful in his first bid for Parliament when he conceded a 6410-votes majority to Labour's Rick Barker at the start of his fourth term, after being first elected in the old Hastings electorate in 1996, and in the new Tukituki electorate in 1999.

Undeterred, Mr Foss was involved in a dramatic political turnaround which saw National Party candidates ousting Labour in all four General Electorate seat from East Cape to Wairarapa in 2005, despite National's narrow defeat in the election generally.

Mr Foss did so with a 2402-votes majority over Mr Barker, who continued as a List MP in the continuing Labour Government and came home with a 7811 majority in Foss v Barker 3 as National flew into power in 2008.

He was re-elected in 2011 with a win by 9660 votes from one-time Labour candidate Julia Haydon-Carr, and with a 6490-vote majority when Ms Lorck challenged for the first time three years ago.

The MP is currently Minister (outside Cabinet) for Small Business, Statistics and Veteran's Affairs, having previously also been Minister of Broadcasting, Civil Defence, Commerce, Consumer Affairs, Racing and Senior Citizens, and was chairman of the Finance and Expenditure select committee in 2008-2011.

But possibly his most challenging portfolio was as Associate Minister of Education with the Novopay teachers payment fiasco in 2013.

If he wins the election currently expected to be held in October next year, he will become the longest serving MP representing his area since the Hastings electorate was establish in the post-war revision of electoral boundaries in 1946. In addition to Mr Barker's 1993-2005 tenure, National's Duncan McIntyre served four terms from 1960 to 1972 and Labour's David Butcher served four terms from 1978 to 1990.

Mr Foss says he's "grateful (and rapt!)" to be selected again as the candidate for Tukituki, Hawke's Bay.

"Every day representing Hawke's Bay families and businesses in Government is a privilege," he said. "I make sure the voice of Hawke's Bay and regional New Zealand is heard loud and clear in Parliament."

"Hawke's Bay is positively rocking - jobs and confidence are growing; tourism, horticulture and viticulture are booming; we have low mortgage rates, real estate taking is off; and retail sales are increasing."

"I am part of the National-led Government team that manages the rock star economy, lowers taxes, keeps interest rates low, attracts Kiwis home from overseas, celebrates free trade agreements, legislates to protect our environment, drives for a predator-free New
Zealand and confronts the social challenges facing us all."

He says there is "unfinished business", adding: "Our region's job growth and confidence continues to exceed expectations, but we can always do more."

"I will continue to represent middle New Zealanders who are focused on the issues that matter, not the sideshows."

Ms Lorck told Hawke's Bay she congratulates Mr Foss on retaining his party nomination, but vowed a keen contest as she works to return the electorate to the Labour Party.

She's particularly worried about "inequality" in Hawke's Bay, and says that while reappointed to the candidacy less than four months she had, through tackling issues such as housing and homelessness and promoting greater employment opportunities, never "stopped working" for the electorate, despite the defeat at her first attempt for a seat in Parliament.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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