Nick Smith (New Zealand politician)

Nick Smith (New Zealand politician)
The Honourable Dr
Nick Smith
40th Minister of Education
In office
31 January 1999 – 10 December 1999
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley
Preceded by Wyatt Creech
Succeeded by Trevor Mallard
6th Minister of Environment
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Trevor Mallard
Minister for ACC
Assumed office
19 November 2008
Prime Minister John Key
Preceded by Maryan Street
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Tasman
In office
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Nelson
Assumed office
Preceded by John Blincoe
Majority 8,471 (23.64%)
Personal details
Born 24 December 1964 (1964-12-24) (age 46)

North Canterbury,  New Zealand

Nationality New Zealand
Political party National Party
Occupation Engineer

Nicolas Rex "Nick" Smith[2] (born 24 December 1964) is a New Zealand politician and a member of the New Zealand Parliament as a National Party MP. He is a Cabinet minister holding the posts of Minister for the Environment, Minister for Climate Change Issues, Minister for ACC.[3]

Between 1996 and 1999 he was in Cabinet, holding various portfolios including Minister of Corrections, Minister of Conservation and Minister of Education. For a brief time between October and November 2003 he was the deputy leader of the National Party, then in opposition under Bill English.


Education and early career

Smith was born in Rangiora and educated at the Canterbury University achieving 1st Class Honours in Civil Engineering, was an AFS Scholar to the U.S. and eventually gained a PhD with a thesis on New Zealand landslides.[4] Before entering parliament, he worked as an engineer for the Rangiora County Council, and as director of his family construction company. He also served on the Rangiora District Council.

Member of Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
1990–1993 43rd Tasman National
1993–1996 44th Tasman National
1996–1999 45th Nelson 30 National
1999–2002 46th Nelson 8 National
2002–2005 47th Nelson 3 National
2005–2008 48th Nelson 5 National
2008–present 49th Nelson 5 National

After having been involved in the National Party since his university days, Smith stood in the 1990 elections as the party's candidate in the Tasman electorate (based around Nelson). He has retained that seat (now called Nelson) since that time.

Cabinet Minister

In 1996, after serving six years in parliament, Smith was elevated to Cabinet, becoming Minister of Conservation. A year later, in 1997, he gained the additional responsibility of Minister of Corrections. He also held a number of Associate Minister positions during this time. In early 1999, he dropped the Corrections portfolio and became Minister of Education. When National was defeated in the 1999 elections, Smith continued to serve as his party's education spokesperson.

Leadership struggles

Smith was a supporter of Bill English's bid to replace Jenny Shipley as party leader. When English was successful, Smith's position within the party rose. When English was himself challenged by Don Brash, Smith was one of English's strongest defenders, working very hard to win support against Brash. Eventually, however, English was defeated.

Smith was appointed to the position of deputy leader, presumably to placate members of the English camp. He took up this position on 28 October 2003. Soon, however, he was challenged from within the party on the basis of his behaviour after his elevation, which critics described as "irrational" and "paranoid". Smith's defenders said that the claims were exaggerated, and that Smith was merely suffering from stress and exhaustion. Smith returned to Nelson on "stress leave".

When Smith returned to parliament, however, he found himself challenged for the deputy leadership by Gerry Brownlee. Smith and his supporters were angry at this, saying that Brownlee's supporters had taken advantage of Smith's absence to deliberately misrepresent Smith as unstable. Smith was also angry that neither Brownlee or Brash (who appeared now to support Brownlee) had given any indication of the upcoming challenge. Smith was defeated, and lost the deputy leadership on 17 November 2003.

Contempt of Court

In late March 2004, Smith was found guilty of contempt of court. He had been asked to assist a constituent with a Family Court case and made a number of public comments which broke the court's confidentiality rules and was also found to have pressured a witness in the case. Smith's defence was that he was exercising his responsibility as a constituency MP to aid a constituent and that his public utterances in the matter had served the public interest, but these claims were rejected by the court. The Speaker, Jonathan Hunt, held that contempt of court was insufficient to warrant expulsion from Parliament, as it did not fall within the statutory definition of a crime.

Smith considered seeking a renewed public mandate through a by-election, but no by-election was held after leaders of other parties criticised the idea. Smith stood again in the 2005 general election and kept his seat with a greatly increased majority, his personal share of the vote increasing from 46.8% to 54.9% and his overall majority from 4,232 to 10,226.

Smith is nominally ranked fifth in the National Party's hierarchy.

Fifth National Government

When National and the new leader, John Key, won the 2008 general election, Smith was appointed Minister for the Environment, Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues, and Minister for the Accident Compensation Corporation, and is ranked sixth in Cabinet.

In April 2010, the NZ Herald reported that Smith had his legal fees for two separate defamation cases in 1999 and 2005 paid by the taxpayer. Smith stated that the legal fees for the 2005 case "totalled about $270,000."[5]

Climate Change

In 2005, Smith made the following comments on Labour's policy of carbon taxes in his Nelson-Marlborough farming column:

  • “The madness of the Government’s new carbon tax is that New Zealanders will be the only people in the world paying it. It will drive up the costs of living and undermine the competitiveness of New Zealand business for negligible environmental gain."
  • “Labour Ministers may take pride in being toasted at International Climate conferences for being so bold and brave, but there is no justification for New Zealand going out in the cold by itself on this issue."
  • “New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions made up only 0.4% of the global total and on a per capita basis our emissions are half those of countries like Australia and the United States. We are the only Southern Hemisphere country with binding legal obligations under Kyoto and giants like China and India have got off scot free.”[6]

From January 2008, Smith was giving speeches as National's Climate Change Spokesman. In one speech, he stating there was no question that the destabilising of the earth’s climate, caused by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, was the “number one environmental issue”.[7]

After the 2008 general election, Smith was appointed Minister for Climate Change Issues.[3] The Nelson Mail described the appointment as the logical choice given Smith's role as the National Party's climate change spokesman and his role in the National 'Blue-Green' group.[8]

In December 2008, Dr Smith announced a review of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.[9]

On 24 September 2009, Smith introduced the Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill for its first reading in Parliament. This bill amended the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and it received the Royal assent on 7 December 2009.[10]

In November 2009, Smith stated in a speech to Federated Farmers that climate change is a global tragedy of the commons. It has significant consequences and the harm will fall on future generations. Economically, in terms of trade access, and environmentally, New Zealand must do its fair share. As it is a complex diabolical problem with huge economic implications for societies based on fossil fuel use, climate change policies must be substantive and realistic.[11]

In 2010, Smith was reported by the Press as saying the basic science of climate change was sound and that climate sceptics who leapt on errors by the IPCC should subject their "flaky" research to the same level of scrutiny as the IPCC reports.[12]

Defamation case 2010

In June 2010, the New Zealand Herald reported that preservatives producer Osmose New Zealand was taking a defamation case against Smith in the High Court in Auckland. Osmose New Zealand alleges that Smith's statements made in July 2005 about the timber product, T1.2, destroyed the product's reputation caused the company to lose more than $14 million in estimated profits. [13] On 10 June 2010, Smith settled the case by issuing an apology and making an undisclosed payment. Smith was quoted by the Dominion Post as saying “No public money is involved in the settlement, although I have been very grateful to have received $209,000 of public money from the Parliamentary Service”.[14]

Political offices

Parliament of New Zealand
New constituency Member of Parliament for Tasman
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
John Blincoe
Member of Parliament for Nelson
Political offices
Preceded by
Wyatt Creech
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Trevor Mallard
Preceded by
Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment
Preceded by
Maryan Street
Minister for ACC


  1. ^ "Nick Smith MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "New Zealand Hansard – Members Sworn Volume:651;Page:2". Parliament of New Zealand. 
  3. ^ a b "Ministerial List for Announcement on 17 November 2008". New Zealand Government. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  4. ^ "About Nick". Nick Smith MP Nelson. 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Trevett, Claire (7 April 2010). "We're paying for MPs' legal bills, but it's a secret". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Nick Smith (25 November 2005). "Nelson Marlborough Farming December column". Retrieved 11 May 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ Nick Smith (24 January 2008). "A Sustainable Government". 13th Annual Nelson Rotary Speech – ‘A Sustainable Government’. Press Release: New Zealand National Party. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Editorial (19 November 2008). "Bold new lineup". The Nelson Mail. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Smith, Nick (9 December 2008). "Climate change select committee established". New Zealand Government Media Release. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Climate Change Response (Moderated Emissions Trading) Amendment Bill". New Zealand Parliament. 7 December 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Smith, Nick (19 November 2009). "Taking agriculture forward with the Emissions Trading Scheme". Speech to Federated Farmers National Council Meeting, Westpac Stadium, Wellington. National Party Bluegreens. 
  12. ^ "Basic climate change science 'sound' despite IPCC error". The Press (Fairfax NZ Limited). 10 February 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  13. ^ NZPA (7 June 2010). "$15m court case against MP deferred". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  14. ^ Forbes, Michael (10 June 2010). "Minister pays and apologises". The Dominion Post (Fairfax Media NZ Ltd). Retrieved 10 June 2010. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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