Woodhouse relaxed about coalition talks


Dunedin North list MP Michael Woodhouse says he is feeling “pretty relaxed” about the possible outcome of talks with Winston Peters and New Zealand First in the wake of the election.

Although he has faced criticism this week over his comments that misinformation on the Dunedin Hospital rebuild had been spread by political opponents, Mr Woodhouse was happy with his campaign.

“I’m pleased with how we went – the things that we controlled were as good as they have ever been in my time,” he said.

National had more volunteers and more sign sites, made more calls and delivered more flyers than ever before.

While the results were not as good as in 2014, when National won the party vote in both the Dunedin North and Dunedin South electorates, this was not unexpected, Mr Woodhouse said.

He put the shift down to the resurgence of Labour following the replacement of its leader, which resonated with voters in a Labour city.

Once the 2017 election special votes were counted, he believed the result for National in Dunedin would be higher than in any other MMP election.

Mr Woodhouse reiterated he had struggled to get “cut through” on the issues of the Dunedin Hospital rebuild during the campaign.

He also felt that the Dunedin SOS campaign for a central city location for the new hospital was “pushing on an open door”.

“The Government wanted what the campaigners wanted, but we had trouble getting our message across,” he said.

Asked if he felt there was a possibility he would become health minister, Mr Woodhouse said there had been no conversations, although it would be a “great privilege” to hold the role.

He expected that, if National was able to form a government, there would be some changes in responsibilities.

“If health was in the mix, that would be great, but if not, I would be ready to serve in any capacity.”

While the negotiations with NZ First continue, Mr Woodhouse will be spending more time at home in Dunedin than usual.

“Maybe the lawn will even get a mow,” he said.