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Barry Soper: Will Paul Goldsmith remain the invisible man of politics?

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 9:09AM
Paul Goldsmith has long contested the Epsom electorate without contesting it, writes Barry Soper. (Photo / Getty)
Paul Goldsmith has long contested the Epsom electorate without contesting it, writes Barry Soper. (Photo / Getty)

Up until now Paul Goldsmith's been happy to be a somewhat invisible man of politics, well at least in his home suburb of Epsom. He's been the gatekeeper there for the most obedient National Party voters in the country since he came into Parliament eight years ago, telling everyone to vote for ACT but to give their party vote to National.

And they did: 22,000 more of them than ACT's David Seymour managed to scrape together at the last election.

Goldsmith cut his teeth in Epsom in 2011 against his own political boss John Banks, who he beat hands down in the party vote but was happy to be beaten by him in the electorate count. That came after the infamous cup of tea between Banksie and John Key where a television cameraman left his recording device on the table which caught them talking about everything but the election.

Given ACT's dismal outing at the last election Goldsmith might finally be allowed to claim the seat for himself next year, which for him, would probably be as easy as presenting his first Budget if he gets the chance.

He's written more books than many people have read, including a biography of Banksie and of Don Brash. In fact he's credited with putting the finishing touches on Brash's famous one-rule-for-all Orewa speech which saw the then National leader catapult in the opinion polls and come within a hair's breadth of knocking Helen Clark off her perch, until she fought back with interest-free student loans.

Perhaps Goldsmith should give his boss Simon Bridges some speech writing advice.

Maybe former National Finance Minister in the Bolger Government Bill Birch might have been the only reader of his book We Won, You Lost, Eat That - a political history of taxation back to 1840, but at least he's got a pretty good understanding of how our economic cogs tick over.

Given the Goldsmith book title was actually a taunt once delivered by Clark's Finance Minister Michael Cullen, the new National finance spokesman will be hoping he'll be more successful than Cullen's latest tome, The Tax Working Group's report was with the Beehive.

One minister who'll be pleased with Goldsmith's promotion will be the Prince of the Provinces Shane Jones, who was daily niggled with the acerbic tongue. But his comfort will be shortlived with Goldsmith relinquishing his regional development portfolio to the irksome Chris Bishop, whose bark in the bear pit is as bad as his bite as Police Minister Stuart Nash would attest to.

So Simon Bridges' reshuffle could just hit the mark, although that mark could just become a target on his back. Relieving the stalking horse Judith Collins of one of her portfolios will give her a little more time on her hands...

 

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