Election 2020: New ACT MP Chris Baillie needs a place to live in Wellington

Election 2020: New ACT MP Chris Baillie needs a place to live in Wellington

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MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

Chris Baillie, Act list MP at Nelson Airport about to fly off to his first Act caucus meeting.

New ACT list MP Chris Baillie says a Parliamentary adventure is not what he expected when he threw his hat in the ring with the aim of increasing the ACT party vote in Nelson.

“No, I didn’t,” he said on Sunday before flying to Auckland for the first post-election gathering of the 10-member ACT caucus. “If you’d asked me in March what the likelihood was of this occurring … certainly this is a bit of whirlwind.”

However, the positive pre-election polls and his placement at No. 4 on the ACT list meant he had prepared himself mentally for the possibility of Parliament as he settled in to watch the results roll in on Saturday evening at The Honest Lawyer restaurant he owns on the Monaco Peninsula at Nelson.

There are, however, still a few practical matters that need attention.

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Chris Baillie speaks in September at an ACT gathering in Nelson that included party leader David Seymour.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

Chris Baillie speaks in September at an ACT gathering in Nelson that included party leader David Seymour.

“I don’t know where I’m going to live … and I start next week,” Baillie said.

He also acknowledged a steep learning curve ahead for himself and the other new ACT MPs as they step into their new Parliamentary roles.

“I’m sure there’ll be things I’ll learn pretty early,” Baillie said. “What you can and can’t do.”

A competent manager employed at The Honest Lawyer gave Baillie confidence his business was in good hands during his upcoming absences. Leaving his other job as a teacher at Nayland College was tougher.

“I’m heading into college tomorrow to say goodbye to my kids and have a chat to the principal,” Baillie said. “Saying goodbye to the kids is going to be the worst part of this whole adventure.”

The students had been under the care of a relieving teacher while Baillie was on the campaign trail but had been following the events.

“I had one kid say he’s going to get the phone book and ring everyone in the phone book and tell them not to vote for me so that I’d [stay],” Baillie said. “I thought that was quite cute.”

Chris Baillie says he is looking forward to the challenge of being an ACT list MP.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

Chris Baillie says he is looking forward to the challenge of being an ACT list MP.

Along with his experience as a teacher and business owner, Baillie spent 14 years working as a police officer. He said he believed his skills complemented those of the other ACT MPs and together, under the guidance of experienced party leader David Seymour, they would be a “very effective opposition”.

“There’s a lot of learning to happen over the next three years but I think ACT have enough MPs to actually make a difference,” Baillie said. “We can hold the Government to account … and we can push forward our own policies regarding small business and things like that.”

As an “actual business owner” himself, Baillie said he knew how difficult it could be to work through the associated red tape and compliance issues along with “actually paying staff”.

“To – at a whim – give five extra days’ … sick leave or just put the minimum wage up, I know how that affects business whereas I don’t think a lot of people realise what the impacts are,” he said, referring to pledges made by Labour before the election.

Baillie achieved his aim of increasing the ACT party vote in Nelson. After the preliminary count, the party vote total was 3210 for ACT – more than 20 times greater than the 137 party votes it received in 2017. Baillie himself got 1123 votes.

Baillie’s new role as a list MP would also mean “Nelson’s got an extra voice” in Parliament. Nelson mayor Rachel Reese and deputy mayor Judene Edgar visited Baillie to congratulate him on Saturday “and we’re going to catch up in a couple of weeks with the issues and where we can move from here”.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

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