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Candidate profile: David Parker

Tuesday 04 Oct 2011 12:02p.m.

David Parker

Described as quiet and "bookish", David Parker is nonetheless a rising star in Labour, and a seen by many as a potential future leader.

Background

Born in Roxburgh, 1960, David grew up in Dunedin, earning bachelors degrees in commerce and law at the University of Otago.

Before going into politics he had a careers in law and business. He was a co-founder of the Dunedin Community Law Centre, and also helped start up bio-tech businesses alongside investments in a café and a theatre.

David came to close to bankruptcy at one point, which he says taught him a lesson in overconfidence.

He grew up in a Labour-voting family, but unlike John Key, did not have a burning ambition to be Prime Minister when he was young. Instead, he found himself drawn to politics in the 1990s, vowing to fight the ruling National Party's dramatic reforms.

Career in politics:

Placed low on Labour's list at the 2002 election and standing in the safe National seat of Otago, David wasn't expected to get into Parliament on his first go. Labour trounced National in the nationwide party vote though, and some of that swing rubbed off in Otago, sweeping Labour's 47th-ranked MP into Parliament, effectively ending the career of his National opponent, Gavan Herlihy.

At his maiden speech, he told Parliament he felt "like Harry Potter arriving at Hogwarts School of Wizardry".

In 2005 he lost the seat to National's Jacqui Dean (who would later go on to accidentally call for a ban on water). By now however he'd done enough to impress the Labour hierarchy, and remained in Parliament on the party's list. He also lost to Ms Dean in 2008 in the new Waitaki electorate, but his #17 spot again guaranteed him a seat.

Under Phil Goff's leadership, David was promoted to #4 on the Labour list ahead of other potential future leaders, such as Shane Jones.

When Labour was in power, he looked after several portfolios at different times, including energy, environment, transport and climate change. He was also attorney-general for a short time, but resigned when an article in right-wing magazine Investigate claimed he'd filed an incorrect declaration with the Companies Office.

The allegation turned out to be untrue, but David didn't get the attorney-general role back.

He is currently Labour's spokesperson for economic development and energy, and associate spokesperson for finance.

David will stand in Epsom in November, taking on ACT's John Banks. He'll be hoping the right-wing vote is split between Mr Banks and National's candidate, Paul Goldsmith, who once wrote a book about Mr Banks.

When he's off the clock, David says he enjoys tramping and skiing, watching the Black Caps and likes to holiday "anywhere my mobile phone is out of range - generally by the beach or a back-country river".

Notable actions:

Designed the original Emissions Trading Scheme, which National passed into law with a few changes

Ranked third-best politician of the year in 2010 by the Dominion Post, behind only Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

What you might not know:

Earlier this year it was reported David is in a relationship with Barbara Ward, the inspiration behind musician Chris Knox's legendary song 'Not Given Lightly', which was named the 13th-best Kiwi song ever in 2001.

Heroes and idols:

"Parents who raise their children well."

Quote:

"The voters of Epsom are being taken for granted and deserve to be shown respect, and an alternative to John Banks and Don Brash."

Gaffes and blunders:

In January 2009, commenting on the new Government's stimulus package, David said: "There is nothing in it. It shows that nothing has been done for the last few months to respond to what is the world’s worst economic crisis for many decades." National MPs had only been sworn into their positions five weeks earlier, and Prime Minister John Key hadn't yet been on the job for two months.

In a sentence:

David Parker's surprise inclusion in a list of potential usurpers to Phil Goff's throne earlier this year could be a portent of things to come.

 
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