Newcomer Sam Uffindell won Simon Bridges’ former seat as MP for Tauranga following the latter’s surprise resignation.
Uffindell won a convincing victory for the National Party with 10,931 votes (interim), recording almost double the votes of the other leading aspirant Labour’s Jan Tinetti, with the ACT Party’s Cameron Luxton coming third out of the 12 candidates, with just 1900 votes.
Bridges, who retired after 14 years in the seat, has taken up a new role as chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
Uffindell, a former Rabobank banker, who has served in senior roles in Australia and Singapore as well as New Zealand, said he was honoured to represent Tauranga.
“I’ve seen what world-leading societies look like and I’m hoping to bring some of those skills and that knowledge and vision to Tauranga,” he said.
He told the Bay of Plenty Business News that he had worked in banking for 14 years, leading successful high performance teams.
Uffindell said the messages he had received from people in Tauranga during his campaign had been consistent. “We kept hearing about congestion, about crime and gang activity and about the cost of living,” he said, with the rising cost of living being a major issue especially for older people on fixed incomes.
Takitimu north reaffirmed
During the campaign Uffindell confirmed that National would go ahead with completing the Takitimu northern link to Omokoroa, which was committed to under the previous National government, but dropped by Labour when it came to power.
“We’re going to go fully up to Omokoroa,” he said.
On gangs and crime, Uffindell said he believed his background in banking and understanding the money laundering techniques currently being employed, would be of assistance when National introduced its planned legislation to curb the negative power of gangs.
“We’ll be coming down on gangs and their laundering of money across the system,” he said.
Uffindell said the proposed National legislation aimed to give police the power to remove gang convoys on the roads and enable police to issue spot fines or temporarily confiscate bikes.
As to the shortfalls and rising costs in property in recent years, he described this largely as a supply issue. “You can take a common-sense perspective and look at what is working and what is not.”
Tauranga needed to build the infrastructure around State Highway 29 to unlock housing.
“Then it’s about removing the impediments, such as the red tape and reforming the Resource Management Act, which is really holding us up in getting houses built,” he said.
“We will be ruthless focused on achieving outcomes. When I worked in banking we tried to be conservative – we only spent money when we thought we’d get the best results.”