Jami-Lee Ross is no stranger to politics. He’s confident, he’s determined and he knows what he wants.
He first stood for local council in 2004 at just 18-years-old and has quickly risen through the ranks to become a Senior Whip in the National Party.
Ross has been the Member of Parliament for Botany since 2011 after the resignation of National’s Pansy Wong.
You could say it’s a safe National seat – in fact, it’s only ever been a National seat since it was contested as an electorate for the first time in the 2008 General Election.
Ross won with 63.84 per cent of the vote in 2014 General Election and 64.03 per cent in the 2011 General Election. He won the March 2011 by-election with almost double the number of votes of his nearest rival, Labour’s Michael Wood.
But he’s not taking a single one of those votes for granted.
“This area has been very kind to me and supported me for quite a number of elections now, but every election – no matter what the circumstances are – I get out there, I knock on doors, I meet people in the supermarkets and shopping centres, we deliver tens of thousands of flyers and put up hundreds of hoardings.
“That’s not going to change. It doesn’t matter if the National party is polling 20 per cent or 50 per cent, I’d be doing exactly the same thing.”
As it happens, the most recent data available from Reid Research shows National is polling at 44.4 per cent with Labour at 33.1 per cent – a leap for the left after Jacinda Ardern replaced Andrew Little as Labour leader.
On being asked if he thought personality politics was an issue in New Zealand, Ross said politics in the country was becoming a lot more presidential styled.
“Formerly, people are voting for a candidate in their local area and a party, but at the head of that party is a leader and those leaders have leader debates and the leaders are the ones speaking in the media…. so yes personality does play a part.
For the record, he says Bill English is “quite a likeable politician too”.
“I don’t think you could argue that either of them aren’t likeable, but is that really the test of who should be the leader of the nation? Whether you’re likeable or not?”
As he reminds me, “there’s more to politics than just being nice”.
Ross is aware that he’s just one part of the winning team in parliament.
“I’m really proud of the fact that being part of the team, the economy’s been growing, there’s been more jobs created in that economy, more New Zealanders are getting access to healthcare and access to better education.”
But he’s equally proud of the things he’s achieved at a local level.
“The fact that we’re advancing the AMETI transport projects and also delivering more doctor visits for young children in the area.
“When I go for a run through Barry Curtis Park, I’m proud of the fact I was involved in that park when it was being developed, I’m proud of the Meadowlands multisport facility…Uxbridge, the Howick Children’s Youth Theatre, things like that. I’m really proud of the fact there’s many different community facilities and parks and projects that I’ve been involved in.
“I’m hopeful in the next three years I’ll continue to be part of the community and work on local community projects.”