Election 2023: Outgoing National MP Michael Woodhouse denies claiming being male caused his low list placing

An outgoing National MP denies claiming being male prevented him from having a higher place on the party list.

Long-serving MP Michael Woodhouse, of Dunedin, said on Saturday he was withdrawing from National's list - saying it was "clear from the ranking offered that I was not part of the leadership's thinking regarding ministerial positions". 

In a new interview with the Otago Daily Times, Woodhouse said there "was a contest between diversity and experience" and, in his case, "diversity won". The article was headlined, 'Being male cost me my position: Woodhouse'.

But Woodhouse has since denied saying that.

"I think what's being reported is a very disappointing mischaracterisation of what I said and I have never said, 'Being male cost me a higher list place,'" he told Newstalk ZB. "In fact, when I spoke to the ODT, I didn't even mention... being male.

"I've reflected back on the last 18 months or so... I've just got my head down and worked really hard in the roles that I've got and that's obviously not been enough."   

Asked on AM if National was pushing men out of the top of its party list, leader Christopher Luxon said "absolutely not".

"We've got a fantastic list that we've assembled, I'm incredibly proud about it - it balances experienced, seasoned MPs with brand new talent with new experiences and skills coming into our caucus."

In the ODT interview, Woodhouse went on to say his departure was a "pretty untidy end and not one that I had anticipated".

He told the newspaper he didn't think "the details side of politics was valued as much as I think it needed to be" when National put its list together.

But Luxon said while the party list unveiled at the weekend was what National was taking to the election, he noted any future Cabinet of his will be performance-based.

"We've got some really exciting talent, as you've seen across the country, running in seats but also in the list rankings so I'm really excited about what we've been able to form here," he told AM.

"There are a range of factors that our list committee considers and it ranges from different skills, different abilities, different experiences… we had a terrible election result in 2020, I want to make sure that when you go back through the 87-year history of this party, we are at our absolute best."

Woodhouse was the National Party's Shadow Leader of the House and spokesperson for economic development, state-owned enterprises and sport and recreation. He was removed from his role as finance spokesperson by Luxon in 2021.

On the way up the list were several fresh faces including Harvard Kennedy School graduate Nancy Lu and Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg, a former journalist.