By Jim Birchall
The first confirmed name to contest the nomination for the National Party candidacy for Botany is Stephen Lyon.
Lyon is the owner of a dive business in Rarotonga, but has recently “moved out of business operationally”, and is currently in New Zealand for the “year-long process” towards convincing the National Party of his worthiness to tackle the hotly-contested Botany seat.
Lyon is coy about being shoulder tapped by National but admits to seeing an opportunity in the electorate after the resignation of current (independent) MP Jami-Lee Ross from the National Party after a well-publicised spat with leader Simon Bridges in 2018.
Born in Auckland, and a graduate of Saint Kentigern College and the University of Auckland and with family links to Cockle Bay, Lyon has been away from New Zealand for the past 15 years and has limited experience in local politics. He has however, been an active member of The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Industry Council.
He is also a passionate environmentalist and brings a green tinge to the blue manifesto. A strong advocate of climate change, you would expect him to be running with the pack that is lobbying for an immediate declaration of climate emergency.
However he tempers this by suggesting the movement has been “highjacked” by social justice warriors and believes farmers have been unfairly targeted by activists with an axe to grind.
He goes on to state he believes the real and immediate concern is the reduction of fossil fuels and thinks engineers and planners should work together to implement earth-saving ideas forwarded by climate change scientists.
A spanner in the works towards getting the nomination may be outgoing Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon who has been mentioned in dispatches to commence his political career with a win in Botany.
Time will tell, but one thing for certain is incumbent Jami-Lee Ross will have to work hard to retain his place in parliament in 2020.