National MP and former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced he will step down from politics. His resignation is significant because unlike colleagues Bill English and Steven Joyce who have also stepped down this year, Coleman is an electorate MP meaning his resignation will trigger a by-election.
Coleman will leave politics to become the CEO of Acurity Health Group.
In a statement, Coleman said that he was fortunate to have had a long career as a Minister.
“I was not looking to leave Parliament, but received an unsolicited approach from Acurity. It’s a very exciting opportunity that utilises my skills and draws on my background both outside and inside Parliament,” he said.
National leader Simon Bridges paid tribute to his colleague’s legacy in the portfolios of Immigration, State Services, Defence, Associate Finance, and Health.
“And finally as Health Minister, Dr Coleman initiated and drove the New Zealand Health Strategy - the blueprint for the future of New Zealand health services - while delivering a continued increase in access to clinical services across the board,” said Bridges.
Coleman ran for the leadership of the National Party in 2016 and was tipped as a possible contender in 2016, but he decided not to run.
Coleman’s Northcote seat should be considered safe by the National Party. Coleman finished with 52.3 percent of the vote in 2017 and held the seat by over 57 percent of the vote in the previous three elections. By way of comparison, Coleman’s margin is similar to that of Gerry Brownlee’s in the safe National seat of Ilam.
“The National Party will now focus on earning the right to continue to represent the people of Northcote,” said Bridges.
“I am confident that the new National Party candidate will show they have a real understanding of that community’s aspirations and a commitment to working with local people to achieve them,” he said.
The stakes are high for both parties. By-elections are notoriously unpredictable and Labour’s polling has been strong since the election. A Labour victory, or a much smaller majority for National, would be embarrassing for Bridges. A larger majority would be touted by National as showing the electorate losing faith in Labour.