National Party leader Christopher Luxon has tried to refresh his party’s lineup, unveiling the party’s list for the 2023 election.
Veteran MP Michael Woodhouse has vanished from the list. He is campaigning to win his seat in Dunedin, a safe Labour seat.
He had been ranked 16. Stuart Smith, ranked 19, has been dumped to 56, just ahead of Sam Uffindell, ranked 57.
Both are likely to win their seats, and reenter Parliament.
The party’s top 20 is largely unchanged from the lineup announced earlier this year. However the top 40 is very different.
First term MPs Penny Simmonds, Simon Watts, and Nicola Grigg are well ranked at 16, 17, and 19.
The highest ranked candidates not currently in Parliament are Nancy Lu, Suze Redmayne, Katie Nimon, and Catherine Wedd at 20, 21,22, and 23.
On current polling, National is slated to add about 10 seats to its caucus come October. The most recent Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll had the party on 44 seats, up from 34 currently.
National is also expected to take back a number of electorate seats from Labour as the tide goes out on the “red wave” of 2023.
A key challenge for Luxon will be diversifying his caucus in terms of gender and ethnicity. Luxon has admitted there is work to do in this area, but told the Herald earlier this year he wanted to have a 50-50 gender split in his caucus.
The party’s list ranking is the place to do it.
But even before ranking the party’s list, Luxon has had difficulty achieving this goal. The party’s famously local candidate selection process has seen safe blue seats disproportionately select male candidates. If most of these seats go blue on election night, it will frustrate any attempts to bring in more diverse candidates on the party list. Each spot taken up by an electorate MP means one fewer list MP.
Luxon admitted as much earlier this year to the Herald when he said: “Ideally I’d love to see a 50-50 gender balance. But it’s a combination of what is delivered in the electorates and what’s left over in respect of the list.”
In an analysis by the Herald, only 11 women candidates were selected for seats National has a chance of winning – compared to 33 men.
Luxon also needs to find space for the party’s list-only candidates, including veteran MP Gerry Brownlee, who is a candidate for Minister of Foreign Affairs or Speaker if National wins government; James Christmas, a potential Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister; former MP Agnes Loheni; and newcomer Nancy Lu.
National’s list ranking is officially a horizontal process, with input from the wider membership fed into the party’s list ranking committee, which includes the party leader, deputy leader, president, board and many regional representatives ranking the list.
In practice, however, most National members consider list ranking to be the prerogative of the leader, who is able to use it to stamp their mark on the party.
National is the last of the big parties to unveil its list, with Labour, the Greens and Act all having given theirs.
Thomas Coughlan is Deputy Political Editor and covers politics from Parliament. He has worked for the Herald since 2021 and has worked in the press gallery since 2018.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you