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March 3, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

An Interview with Nathan Guy

Political columnist Emma Daken interviews National MP Nathan Guy, on politics, life and the man himself.

What has been your most memorable moment as a Member of Parliament?
My first time down at the gym in the basement of parliament, I went into the changing room (which was separate to the gym, in the corridor) and got changed into my running gear. I never realised that I needed to take my swipe card off my suit pants to get into the gym, so I stepped out into the corridor and tried the door to the gym (of course I needed my swipe card to get in). I couldn’t get back into the changing room to get my card, so I was in this waiting for someone to come past.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At a very young age, I wanted to be a truck driver. Then at secondary school, I thought it would be quite nice to be a police man. I travelled overseas at the end of my 7th form, to England, and there was a big riot there, the rioters were chanting ‘kill the bill’, as they were circulating around the police paddy-wagon, so at that point I thought ‘Gosh, it’s quite a diverse role being a police man’. I guess my focus has always been agriculture. Came back and went to Massey University, got a degree in agriculture. Along the way, I guess I have had other thoughts and aspirations, but fundamentally it has always come back to the opportunities I had at home, on the farm.

When did you first become interested in politics, and who were your political influences at the time?
My father was county chairman of Horowhenua before it was amalgamated into a district. He was the first mayor in ’89, of Horowhenua District. So I have grown up with the phone ringing at home all the time. Having to take phone calls form frustrated rate payers, and jot down the message for my father in the diary, or often just be a listening ear for people. So I have grown up from a very young age, in a local government household. When I came back home after university, I decided I wanted to get involved in the council. The biggest influence? I guess my father has always had an influence, always been keen to put something back into the community. I have always been a National supporter. I was approached in 2004 to seek nomination when Roger Sowery (who was a member for Kapiti), decided he was stepping down.

Other than having a successful election, what other personal or political goals have you set yourself for 2008?
Well I have just had a small promotion as of last week. I am now in this role here of senior whip. [Nathan replaces Anne Tolley as senior whip, as Anne has taken on Katherine’s Education Portfolio. Chris Tremain joins Nathan as National’s junior whip] I am excited by it, it is a big challenge. I guess my role here is about ensuring that we are disciplined and focusing on winning the election, and doing well to represent National in Parliament with our views, [and] also out in our electorate and across New Zealand. So in terms of what are my goals? To do the job well, to be well respected by my colleagues, that’s pretty much it.

Do your decisions in parliament reflect your personal ethics, and where do those ethics come from?
I was brought up in an Anglican family; our background has always been about helping people, helping others less fortunate than ourselves. My two offices out in the in Parapramu and in Levin, are very busy, and one of the aspects I enjoy the most, is helping people less fortunate than me. Caucus is a place where discussions take place, where we often get policy positions, and that is where I am happy to make a contribution [on behalf of constituents], in that forum, where people are allowed to put their own point of view forward, and often that will sway to the discussion for us to get a position on different bits of legislation.

If you could change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be, and why?
I’d like to reduce the number of people that are choosing to go to Australia, because we tend to be losing our youngest and brightest heading over to Australia for better wages and lower tax. In a tight labour market where we have got a skill shortage and an ageing population, we need to ensure that we are keeping those people. We need to encourage setting up small business, medium business. To drive the economy we need to ensure that those 38 or 40,000 people leaving for Australia for good, that we are keeping as many of the others here for good.

What scares you the most?
If NZ had foot-in-mouth, or we got a TB breakout of significance, or mad cow disease, that ended up crippling our primary production economy. Also lying on the bottom of a ruck, playing against a very formidable side when I represented the Parliamentarians. So I guess lying on the bottom of a ruck against some huge forwards with size 12 rugby boots is somewhat scary.

What do you see yourself doing upon exiting politics?
Having an involvement in my children’s education. Perhaps standing on the sidelines of my son or daughter’s rugby or netball games, and being a very supportive dad.


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