Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Who is Andrew Bayly? The mountaineer who scaled National’s caucus and claimed half of the finance role

Mountaineer Andrew Bayly can add another climb to his list of achievements – National’s shadow cabinet rankings.

The little-known third-term MP today scaled 14 places in his party’s caucus to sit at number three after being rewarded by leader Judith Collins for his loyalty.

He was awarded the title of “shadow treasurer”, given the hefty infrastructure portfolio as well as the less fought-over responsibility of statistics.

Bayly’s treasurer position came after Collins carved up the responsibility of the finance portfolio between Bayly and Michael Woodhouse.

It’s understood she first offered part of the responsibilities to former leader Simon Bridges, alongside Bayly, but he turned the offer down.

Bayly refused to talk about that aspect of the reshuffle.

“I don’t think there’s any dissent over it, certainly between Michael and I. I’m very happy with it and I’m sure he is.”

Bayley also said he didn’t see his promotion as a thank-you from Collins.

“What [Collins] wanted to do was ensure she had the best people in the roles. Our economic team isn’t just Michael and me, it includes about eight people and we will all work together.

“It’s a huge part of the focus of our caucus.”

The NZ Herald asked Bayly whether he had any asperations for the leadership, now he was placed so close to it.

“Who me? No, no. I’m very happy with being number three. I’ve always wanted to be number three so I’m very happy with that.”

The former New Zealand Territorial Army officer, British Parachute Regiment member and merchant banker entered Parliament as the Hunua MP in 2014 and retained the seat in 2017.

At this year’s election he contested the new Port Waikato electorate and was re-elected with a margin of more than 4,200 votes.

During his Parliamentary career he has chaired the Local Government and Environment select committee and has been on the Finance and Expenditure select committee for six years.

He’s also been National’s spokesman for building and construction, economic development, tourism and commerce.

Bayly said the idea to split up the finance portfolio came up after a number of discussions and his role would focus on ensuring views from boardrooms were represented.

“I understand real financial stuff, financial products and how they operate.”

Bayly said he believes in having two lives – his professional one and the one in which he tackles mountains in Antarctica, drags sleds to each pole and spends three weeks riding a one-humped camel through the desert.

For those wondering how one might even begin to start researching such an adventure, the trick is to get yourself sons like Bayly’s.

He promised each of his three sons an adventure of their choosing and last year his middle son opted to follow the trail blazed by TE Lawrence through the Middle East during World War I.

But he’s promised to curtail his more adventurous expeditions in light of his new promotion.

This summer Bayly had plans to do the Salt Route between Morocco and Timbuktu on camels but Covid-19 extinguished that dream.

Instead he’s settling on doing the Abel Tasman Great Walk – though his friends have warned him to “dial it back”.

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