Ross rockets from 27 to front benches

Jami-Lee Ross. Photo by Mark Tantrum/ http://marktantrum.com

The Botany electorate’s sizeable Chinese community is fond of MP Jami-Lee Ross.
It was obvious at his victory party on General Election night, and is the case at many of his formal party gatherings.

And while not a man given to superstition, he is well aware his new ranking on the national Party list will not go unnoticed.

He was promoted to the front bench following National Party leader Simon Bridges’ reshuffle on Sunday.

Ross, 32, has found himself elevated from number 27 on the list into the top 10, in itself rather special in that he is the only person on the front bench who hasn’t been a minister before.

He takes on the shadow portfolios of Transport and Infrastructure.

“I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given to move on to the front bench,” Ross told the Times.

“Some have told me number eight is a lucky number.”

Indeed the Chinese consider it the luckiest number in their culture.

The new roles mean he will have to relinquish his position as Chief Whip, a role he said he has enjoyed.

“But that’s often what happens when the Whip is given a chance to step forward,” he said.
And step up. He is assuming the lofty roles previously held by Simon Bridges (Transport) and senior statesman Steven Joyce (Infrastructure).

“Transport and Infrastructure are very important for economic growth and development,” he said.

“As an Auckland MP, I see this every day, but the role will also mean I will work a lot more with colleagues from around the country in these areas as well.”

His formative years in local government will come in handy. He was elected to the Manukau City Council in 2004 aged 18 and six years later won a seat in the Howick Ward on the new Auckland Council. Almost exactly sevenyears ago, he won election to parliament.

“Much of my time on the city council was around how we built infrastructure for the future,” said Ross.

“Now I’ll be working on that area on a nationwide basis.”

His shadow roles will mean more than just jousting with his opposites in the Ardern-Peters government Labour’s Transport Minister is Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister NZ First’s Shane Jones.

There was also much work required if National wanted to return to government.

“Opposition parties usually hold the government of the day to account, but we will also be developing policy and ideas for what transport projects and infrastructure plans are needed for the next National-led Government,” said Ross.

“National was known as the infrastructure government. New Zealand will need to keep developing if we are to move forward and grow more jobs for Kiwis.”

Ross is one of five new faces on the party’s front bench of its top 10 MPs.

The reshuffle sees Judith Collins move up to be fourth-ranked MP and will take on Labour’s Phil Twyford in Housing and Urban Development.

Other new faces on the front bench are Todd McClay, who takes on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Tourism and Mark Mitchell, who assumes Justice and Defence.

Paul Goldsmith is ranked at nine and will take on the massive Economic Development and Regional Development areas, going head to head against Shane Jones and Economic Development Minister David Parker.

Nikki Kaye is at 10 and will keep the education portfolio. The top 10 is completed by current front benchers Jonathan Coleman, who keeps Health, Bridges, deputy Paula Bennett and Finance spokeswoman Amy Adams. Bennett has Social Investment, Tertiary Education and Women.

New Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown gets the Associate Education portfolio while Hunua MP Andrew Bayly takes on Building and Construction and the Associate Finance portfolio.