Electorate still resolutely blue

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Voters have not changed their allegiance in Clutha-Southland despite a rocky road to the general election.

The electorate remains blue after National’s candidate Hamish Walker romped home with 19,524 votes at the weekend.

His nearest rival was Labour’s Cherie Chapman on 6519, followed by New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson on 3192.

Mr Walker recorded a winning margin of 13,005.

The controversy over former Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay’s alleged secret taping of staffer Glenys Dickson did not deter voters from backing the party or the new candidate.

Mr Walker said on Monday he was extremely happy with National’s overall result and humbled by his own landslide victory.

“I’m humbled and honoured to be elected MP for Clutha-Southland,” Mr Walker said.

“I’m looking forward to serving the people.”

Mr Walker said he did not take the victory for granted even though the electorate had traditionally been a blue seat.

He acknowledged the loyal supporters in the electorate.

There was very little time for the first-time MP to bask in the glory of victory as he has been in Wellington since Monday learning the ropes of his new job.

He was “energised” and looking forward to giving the people of Clutha-Southland a “strong voice” in Parliament, he said.

It was too early to tell which office he would base himself in.

There were electorate offices in Balclutha, Gore and Queenstown and he had an office in Wellington.

He had gleaned the main issues in the electorate were managing growth in Queenstown and stimulating growth in the rest of the electorate, he said.

Giving farmers, tourist operators and other businesses access to the labour market was an issue that needed attending to, he said.

Ensuring there was a balance of having the right immigration rules which gave New Zealanders the first opportunity for employment followed by good access to immigration labour was a high priority, he said.