Tuesday, 06 August 2019 07:55

‘Timing just feels right for me’

Written by  Peter Burke
Nathan Guy. Nathan Guy.

The timing just feels right, says Nathan Guy, National’s former Minister for Primary Industries, who said last week he would not stand in the 2020 election. 

He says he’s had an amazing time in Parliament since 2005 and has no misgivings about calling it quits. At nearly 50 he feels it’s time to look at doing something else — likely in the primary sector. 

“It’s been a big decision but one I only really started thinking seriously about in the last couple of weeks. This is because we National MPs need to go for selection in the electorates we hold and in my electorate, Otaki, that would be September. 

“So I owe it to my delegates and party members to be upfront and to give them enough time to go find a talented replacement who hopefully can serve Otaki for another 15 years.”

Guy is a farmer whose family’s history in local government politics goes back at least a century. Guy himself served on Horowhenua District Council before entering national politics. He has no interest in going back into local government.

“I’m fortunate to have been given the opportunities I have,  serving as a whip and later as a Cabinet minister. When I came into Parliament I was just 35 and had no grey hairs, but now I am leaving with quite a few. The journey for me has been fantastic.”

Guy says the  highlights of his political career were supporting the primary sector during tough times, eg the dairy downturn and many floods and droughts. He rates his advocacy for water storage and is disappointed that the Government has pretty much turned its back on it, surprising given all the talk about climate change. 

“A big thing for me was dealing with the criminal blackmail over 1080 [allegedly] going into our infant formula, which ended up being a hoax. The PM asked me to lead the response on that and we worked on it for months with industry and kept our trading partners, particularly China, well informed. When the story finally broke there were no negative impacts on our trade. 

“That incident could have been disastrous for the dairy industry and had a massive impact on the NZ economy. I am proud of the role I played there which ultimately led to a prosecution.”

Guy says another success was negotiating the Government Industry Agreements on biosecurity which now have 20 industry groups signed up.

He’s pleased to hand over his portfolios to Todd Muller whom he knows well and respects.

“I will do all I can to support him and ensure he hits the ground running. I’m happy that our party is in good shape and [in Muller] we have a champion and supporter of the primary sector.”

Guy is not concerned about transitioning from politician into the normal workforce. He says for a former minister responsible for a major economic portfolio the move will not be difficult. Since saying he would quit his phone has run hot with texts and messages on Facebook. 

“Some colleagues were a bit stunned and a lot didn’t see it coming. But they realise when I talk to them that this a personal decision and they quickly accept it.”

On a personal level Guy says he’s been blessed to have such a strong supporter in his wife Erica. He says her rural credentials have been great when talking through ideas. 

She would have backed him had he gone for another term “but I think deep down she thinks the time is right to go and do something else”, he says.

Their children likewise understand his decision to leave politics. They have known him only as an MP. His oldest boy was just four days old when he was selected as the candidate for Otaki.

“So on his every birthday Erica and I reflect on our political journey. It’s been a helluva ride, a blast, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

More like this

Petition aims to spark support for farming

Te Kuiti-based electrician Terry Waite wants to spark support for rural NZ by demanding that the Government apologise to farmers for the way it has treated them – especially over the last couple of years.

Sentencing of MP’s son delayed

The sentencing of Tony Kuriger, the son of National Party Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, on animal welfare charges has been delayed until June 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proper water strategy vital

A long-term strategy is required for water storage, explains Todd Muller, National’s agriculture spokesman.

National supports COVID-19 response

The opposition is throwing its support behind the Government’s decision to move the country towards Level 4 of the Covid-19 alert system over the next 48 hours.

Featured

 

Fonterra’s big break

Former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden believes the co-operative will come out a stronger global player post-COVID-19.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Spraying powder in fields

Farmers in eight EU countries sprayed milk powder in fields to protest against the European Commission’s “misguided” way of mitigating…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter