SIT head on leave for National campaign

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PENNY Simmonds will take leave from her position as chief executive of the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to focus on her election campaign to be MP for Invercargill.

The SIT board approved the leave this week, which will see her take leave from June 29, until the election, on September 19.

Mrs Simmonds has been selected by the National Party to contest the Invercargill electorate at the 2020 general election.

“I will be completely away from SIT and will be concentrating entirely on the campaign.

“After the election, if I’m elected as the Member of Parliament for Invercargill, then I have to vacate my position at SIT. If I’m not elected, then I start back my work at SIT from Monday, September 21.”

Deputy chief executive Maree Howden will be acting chief executive while Mrs Simmonds was away.

Mrs Simmonds has been in the role for 23 years.

While rumours of her candidacy had been around for about 15 years, she said she decided to consider it when incumbent MP Sarah Dowie announced her retirement in February.

Concerns for the future of SIT and for sectors feeling the pinch, including agriculture, prompted her to stand this year, she said.

“I think it is appropriate to have this separation to not have any conflict of interest.”

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