ACT party candidate for the Kaipara Ki Mahurangi seat Beth Houlbrooke says she was a “victim of her own success”, after her party stripped her of the deputy leader role and dropped her down from number 2 to number 13 on the ACT party list.
Ms Houlbrooke has been replaced Brooke van Velden as deputy and number 2. Ms van Velden is a 27-year-old aide to party leader David Seymour and helped shepherd his End of Life Choice Bill through Parliament.
Ms Houlbrooke, who is currently deputy chair of the Rodney Local Board, says the irony is that she has spent the last nine years rebuilding the party from a low point in 2011. The success of that work has meant a huge amount of new talent has joined the party and in turn led to a large number of high calibre candidates being available for the party list.
“They have reordered it and, unfortunately for me, I am down at 13 but am still fully supporting the ACT campaign,” she says.
On current polling, ACT might reasonably expect to pick up three seats at the next election. The demotion means Ms Houlbrooke has gone from being almost certain to enter Parliament to being almost certain not to do so.
“These things happen. It’s a tough business – politics can be brutal. I have to keep the bigger view in mind and that is to get more ACT MPs elected to Parliament,” Ms Houlbrooke says.
Ms Houlbrooke says the party list is ordered by a selection committee appointed by the ACT Board.
She was not on the board when the committee was chosen and does not know what criteria was used to order candidate rankings.
“I may not be privy to all the reasons my list ranking has been dropped, but I do appreciate and understand that they have a strategy to get more people elected.”
Ms Houlbrooke says post-election she will be “100 per cent back” doing Local Board work, something she enjoys and would have missed. She says many people have called her expressing relief that she is now unlikely to relinquish her Local Board role.
ACT leader David Seymour says Ms Houlbrooke has been a victim of ACT’s growth. Since the 2017 list selection party membership and polling have quadrupled.
“The selection simply became more competitive,” he says.
“I won’t miss Beth for the simple reason that she is not going anywhere. She remains an important candidate for the party in Kaipara ki Mahurangi and everyone in ACT is proud to have her as a candidate.”