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|New Zealand Parliament|
Born in Foxton in the Manawatu region, Connell studied history and geography at Massey University. He also gained a diploma in teaching. He worked as a primary-school teacher for a time, then as a secondary-school teacher, before moving to Australia, where he became a manager at a banking company in Victoria. After holding a number of management and consultancy positions, he returned to New Zealand and took up farming.
The voters of the Rakaia electorate put Connell in Parliament in the 2002 election, replacing the retiring former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley as the local National Party candidate. Connell served on the Law and Order and Commerce select committees.
Following Connell's re-election in the 2005 election, National Party parliamentary leader Don Brash ranked him 27th in the National party caucus of 48 MPs, giving him the portfolios of forestry, commerce, consumer affairs and statistics. Although this gave him a higher position than his previous unranked state, Connell objected to such a lowly rating, saying "I would have liked bigger portfolios and a higher ranking based on my ability, rather than the leader slapping me around because I'm outspoken"; and describing it as a "big rat to swallow". Don Brash responded by removing his portfolios and unranking him, saying Connell no longer had his confidence. On 4 November 2005 Connell threatened to become an independent MP.
On 13 September 2006 TV3 News and The New Zealand Herald reported that Connell had confronted Brash during a National-Party caucus-meeting with allegations of the parliamentary party leader's involvement in an extramarital affair. Brash issued a statement later that same day, declaring plans to take leave in order to sort out marital difficulties with his wife.
The National Party caucus suspended Connell on 26 September 2006. A statement released by the National Party said that Connell had failed to show the restraint and discipline expected of a Caucus member, and that it had no confidence in him. Connell reportedly declared that he planned to grow his hair as a protest until the National Party changed its leader: he later denied this.