Former Air New Zealand chief executive Chris Luxon entering the Botany candidate selection for the National Party does not faze local nominee Stephen Lyon – or sitting independent MP Jami-Lee Ross.
“If there is one thing I intend to get absolutely right, it is being of service to the people of Botany” says Lyon. He goes on to suggest that he has all the capability necessary to contribute to the National Party, and New Zealand at the highest level but for him it must start with service to his local electorate.
In addition to running a successful business Stephen has been an officer in the New Zealand Army, an advocate for the marine environment, and a leader in Cook Islands national and Pacific regional business organisations.
As previously reported, Lyon grew up in the area, completing all his schooling in east Auckland. Lyon says his experiences in Botany have “shaped him to be the person he is today, especially with regards to his abilities to empathise and communicate with our many cultures”.
Lyon is no stranger to a tough battle. He built a team that successfully advocated for the protection of sharks in all Cook Islands waters, opposed by a very aggressive Chinese lobby.
He attributes his success to his ability to get amongst the community and really understand what is important to the people, then communicate that to political leaders to affect change. Lyon has gone on to successfully advocate on many other national issues within the Cook Islands.
Back now in Botany, Lyon says of the selection process to find a National candidate to stand in the Botany Electorate in next year’s General Election: “I am thoroughly enjoying meeting the members of the National Party through the nomination process, listening to their concerns, and hearing about their history within the electorate.”
“Leadership starts with service, and being of service is exactly what I intend to do”
At time of going to print, Agnes Loheni, list MP and National’s spokesperson for small business and Pacific people has intimated she is also running for the National nomination for Botany.
The Times reached out to Christopher Luxon for comment. He issued the following statement;
“I will be putting my candidate nomination into the National Party for the Electorate of Botany, and I look forward to the robust democratic selection process ahead with the local membership. Botany is an electorate I have a great affinity for and connection with having grown up in the area attending local primary, intermediate and high schools.
I will not be making any further comments, as who is selected as the National Party candidate will be 100% determined by the local party delegates in Botany – not anyone else – and so it is important to me that the process is respected and runs as it should. Should I ultimately be selected by the members in Botany as their National Party candidate I will happily talk publicly then.”
Meanwhile, rogue MP Ross, now an independent after a huge public fall-out with National leader Simon Bridges last year, said in a media statement he has always welcomed “a good, old-fashioned, grassroots election campaign”.
“I fight hard and tough for our community and constituents,” he said.
“I’ve spent 15 years serving our community, and I’m happy to put my local credentials up for local people to make a decision on.”
Ross said it was arrogant for National to believe they can fix their leadership problems “by parachuting someone in who will automatically win an electorate seat”.
“I’ve spent this year knocking on doors and asking constituents whether they want me to continue as their voice. The overwhelming response has been that they appreciate an experienced local person standing up for them,” he said.
“Botany is now the most marginal seat in the country. It looks very different on the ground than it does from the flight path overhead.
“While Botany people know they have in me someone who sits in the middle of both parties and will work with either side to advance local issues, others see themselves racing to Wellington to advance their own personal aspirations the day after an election.
“The voters in Botany are astute and will not be taken for granted in this way.”