Walker secures backing of National Party

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The election campaign started yesterday for Hamish Walker after he was named as the National Party candidate for the Clutha-Southland electorate on Wednesday night.

The decision was made at a National Party delegates’ meeting in Winton.

About 180 people attended the meeting to choose the new candidate following the resignation of embattled MP Todd Barclay.

Mr Barclay announced he would not seek re-election after allegations he secretly recorded former staff member Glenys Dickson.

Former Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden and WorkSafe New Zealand employee Nick Perham were the other two candidates.

Each had an opportunity to address party members for 10 minutes before delegates cast their votes.

Mr Walker was aware of the pressure on him to campaign and “earn the trust” of the electorate, one of the largest in the country.

When speaking to media, Mr Walker avoided questions about Mr Barclay and instead directed the conversation towards the election.

He said he looked forward to the next five weeks as he worked to convince his delegates and electorate that their trust had not been misplaced.

“I’m going to work hard. I’m going to get around to all of the communities.”

He said much of Clutha-Southland was made up of rural communities, to which he would try to appeal.

Mr Walker had been a party member for seven years and it had been his dream to become a a National MP, he said.

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie also spoke at the meeting, highlighting the “circumstance” the party found itself in following the departure of Mr Barclay.

While she did not comment on the allegations against Mr Barclay, she commended him for being a friend and said he worked hard for his electorate.

– Otago Daily Times