Paul Foster-Bell quitting politics

Foster-Bell in parliament (Newshub.)
Foster-Bell in parliament (Newshub.)

A brewing contest over National's Wellington Central selection has forced Paul Foster-Bell to step down from politics. 

Mr Foster-Bell has just announced he's pulled out of the selection race and won't seek a place on the list. 

His announcement comes after a Newshub investigation found he had one of the highest staff turnovers in parliament. 

He had 12 employees leave over the past three years, in what's understood to be one of the highest employee turnover rates of any current, non-ministerial MP.

Some of the woes have included internal mediation sessions, employment lawyers and interventions from Parliament's human resources staff.

Two of the cases involve staff members who, on separate occasions, complained to Parliamentary Service about Mr Foster-Bell's conduct, claiming he tried forcing each of them to resign.

This announcement means there are now a total of 11 National MPs retiring at this election, out of 59 in its caucus.

Mr Foster-Bell faced a challenge from Nicola Willis, one of John Key's confidants and former senior advisors. 

Mr Foster-Bell said he didn't want the contest to dominate people's minds in an election year. 

"Contest for selection will only distract our fantastic local team from the wider goal.”

Ms Willis is a corporate high-flyer, currently holding a senior position at Fonterra as the general manager of nutrient management, pushing sustainability initiatives across some of the dairy giant's farms.

Before that, she was in charge of Fonterra's stakeholder management portfolio which saw her wining and dining important figures from the public and private sectors, and from overseas.

She worked as John Key's senior advisor from 2006 - 2011, when he was Opposition Leader, and then Prime Minister.

When he was still Prime Minister, John Key told Newshub she’d be a welcome addition to Parliament.

“She’s extremely talented. She’d make a very fine MP," he said. 

Wellington Central is a high profile political hot bed, and if Ms Willis wins the nomination, she will be cutting her teeth against two of the left's senior figures: Labour's Grant Robertson and Greens co-leader James Shaw.

National's candidate vote in the electorate has dived since Mr Foster-Bell took over from predecessor Stephen Franks at the 2011 election, with support dropping from 15,142 votes in 2008, to 12,460 in 2011.

At the last election, Mr Foster-Bell took a further hit, sliding to 11,540 votes, while Mr Robertson jumped nearly 1,000 votes to 19,807.