Mid Canterbury will have two MPs in Wellington, but only one with an office in Ashburton
New Rangitata MP-elect James Meager is planning to spread his time across the electorate’s two main centres when he is not in Wellington.
Former Rangitata MP Jo Luxton is set to return to Parliament on the Labour Party list but will not keep her two offices or two electorate staff.
Previously, as a list MP Luxton had put a case forward for funding for an office “because we hadn’t had any Labour representation down here for many years".
It will not be the case this time.
“The budget is quite substantially less as a list MP and being in opposition," she said.
“The funds just really aren’t there to have it.
“I would have dearly loved to have maintained the offices and my team.”
As the electorate MP, Meager will take care of constituent work, but Luxton said she will remain a strong advocate for the electorate.
“I will continue to be a part of and involved in the community, attending events and meetings.”
The Speaker’s Directions 2023 has set the amounts of funding for each member for the next three years, divided into staff, non-staff (rent/expenses), and general sub-allocations.
it shows that in year 1, Meager is eligible for a total of $363,990 while Luxton is eligible for $241,342.
Her Ashburton office was formerly occupied by National MP Andrew Falloon, and Luxton said she had reached out to Meager about the potential opportunity to take over the office.
Meager is still awaiting the official confirmation of the election, which has been delayed due to requests for recounts in three electorates. He has confirmed plans to have an office in both Ashburton and Timaru.
“It's important to have a presence in both major towns in our electorate,” Meager said.
“I will be splitting my recess/non-Wellington time as evenly between Mid and South Canterbury as I can.
“We haven't even been formally confirmed as MPs yet, so decisions on leases are still likely to be a few weeks away.”
He is looking at options for locations, and taking into consideration Parliament’s requirements around things like accessibility and security.
“There’s a Parliamentary process to go through but I’m hoping to open offices before the end of the year.
“I will have a limited Parliamentary budget to set up a new office, and will always be cautious about the use of taxpayer funds.”
By Jonathan Leask