Final Mt Albert Result

June 24th, 2009 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

The final result is in for Mt Albert and David Shearer almost cracked 10,000. His majority of 9,718 is (off memory) the second largest for Labour in any seat.

Turnout was a very low 47.8%.

David Shearer should be declared elected on Monday 29 June, and presumably sworn in on Tuesday 30 June.

The final list of votes in order was:

  1. David Shearer, Labour 13,260
  2. Melissa Lee, National 3,542
  3. Russel Norman, Greens 2,567
  4. John Boscawen, Act 968
  5. Ben Boyce, Bill and Ben 158
  6. Dakta Green, ALCP 92
  7. Simonne Dyer, Kiwi 91
  8. Judy Turner, United Future 89
  9. Julain Pistorius, Libertarianz 39
  10. Jim Bagnell, Independent 24
  11. Ari Baker, Independent 15
  12. Anthony van den Heuvel, Human Rights 13
  13. Malcolm France, Peopel before Profit 13
  14. Jackson Wood, Independent 9
  15. Rusty Kane, People’s Choice 5
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MPs in Auckland

June 18th, 2009 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

The Herald noted how many MPs were out campaigning in Mt Albert, who do not live in Auckland:

MPS IN MT ALBERT

The Herald saw at least 17 out-of-Auckland MPs on the campaign trail.

LABOUR HAD 12

Annette King, Darren Hughes, Maryan Street, Moana Mackey, Sue Moroney, Grant Robertson, Jacinda Ardern, Clare Curran, David Parker, Charles Chauvel, Grant Robertson and Clayton Cosgrove.

NATIONAL HAD THREE

John Carter, David Carter and Aaron Gilmore.

THE GREENS HAD TWO

Metiria Turei and Sue Kedgley.

They seem to have double counted Grant Robertson. Amazing how many Labour MPs all suddenly had parliamentary business in Auckland.

Professor Geddis said MPs’ campaigning was a grey area which was difficult to address.

One way was to be “incredibly specific” about what MPs could do – which would lead to opposing parties “bludgeoning” one another with allegations of breaches.

The other option was to accept that MPs were “political beasts” as much as they were public representatives.

Professor Geddis said MPs’ free travel could be suspended before general elections, but this would be more difficult for a byelection that took place alongside their routine work.

There is no easy answer. Even suspending travel in the period before a general election is problematic as Ministers still have Ministerial duties and would retain travel rights, so that would give the incumbent Government an advantage.

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Dom Post on Goff

June 16th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The Mt Albert by-election has delivered a much-needed fillip to Phil Goff’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Not only did Labour candidate David Shearer win, he won handsomely. National’s post-election aura of invincibility has been shattered and Labour’s activists now have grounds to hope their party can mount a challenge in 2011, particularly if National blunders as badly in that campaign as it did in Mt Albert.

The morale boost is significant. It reassures Labour activists that unlike (for example) the UK Tories in 1997, they have not had a fundamental disconection from the electorate. It does signify that National is not assured of 2011. On the other hand Labour may read too much into it, and think this means that they can win in 2011 with little change from 2008.

But the political capital earnt in Mt Albert has been squandered in the Richard Worth affair. The bare facts suggest that, too, has been a victory for Labour. Dr Worth, under investigation by police for an alleged sexual offence, has been forced to quit Parliament as well as the executive, because of separate allegations brought to public attention by Mr Goff.

Those allegations are that Dr Worth embarrassed and traumatised a recent migrant to New Zealand with unwanted sexual advances and that, “in pursuit of romantic ambitions”, he offered her government jobs. The latter, if proven, would be indefensible, but it was the former that Mr Goff chose to highlight, painting Dr Worth’s alleged victim as a “strikingly beautiful”, somewhat unworldly, woman who had to ask her husband what the Xs with which Dr Worth allegedly concluded his text messages meant.

The portrait suggests someone unfamiliar with Western ways. But it does not fit with that of Labour activist Neelam Choudary, later revealed as the object of Dr Worth’s admiration. Labour insiders and reporters who encountered her on the campaign trail with Helen Clark say she is forthright and confident and presumably capable of deflecting the unwelcome attentions of an ageing MP.

Also missing from Mr Goff’s portrait of Dr Worth’s victim was any mention of the fact that her husband, Kumar Akkineni Choudary, was last year convicted of charging Indian and Chinese immigrants thousands of dollars for non-existent job offers.

And has carried on offending by registering as a company director, despite being ineligible for five years.

If true, Dr Worth’s attentions were boorish and unwelcome, but it is not against the law for an older man, even a married one, to make a fool of himself over a younger woman. Nor does doing so disqualify those involved from holding political office. If it did, there would be a mass exodus from Parliament.

The known facts suggest Mr Goff overstated Dr Worth’s sins in an attempt to besmirch his reputation and, by association, that of his leader, John Key. In doing so he has damaged his own reputation by showing he is prepared to throw political muck.

From the party that brought you the H Fee.

Mr Key, by comparison, looks prime ministerial. He knew Ms Choudary’s identity, and presumably of her husband’s conviction, but there is no evidence to suggest he is responsible for either coming to light. Meantime, he has forced Dr Worth’s resignation as a minister and made his future prospects appear so unattractive that Dr Worth has quit politics.

And this is quite remarkable. Imagine if Labour were Government and the complainant against a Minister was an aspiring National Party candidate, whose husband was a convicted fraudster. I would mortgage my house on the certainity that her identity would have been leaked from the Government within hours.

However, Mr Key has also had a chequered few weeks. Melissa Lee, National’s Mt Albert candidate, was sent into the by-election hopelessly ill-prepared and, when the polls turned against her, abandoned by her party.

If Mr Key could not be at her side on Saturday night, he should have ensured plenty of other colleagues were. Loyalty cuts two ways.

It wasn’t a good look.

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Armstrong on by-election

June 15th, 2009 at 7:50 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Saturday night’s massacre underlined one law of byelections but broke another. The first law is not to make mistakes. David Shearer may not have set the world on fire. But his campaign was solid.

One National wag labelled the cautious Mr Shearer as Labour’s answer to Clem Simich :-)

The Greens nearly doubled their share of the electorate vote they won in the seat at last year’s election to nearly 12 per cent. But they hit close to 20 per cent in the party vote in some metropolitan seats in 2008. They would have expected to do much better in a byelection which had no bearing on who governs the country.

And this was one of the seats where they had a higher party vote.

Labour comfortably won the byelection because it kept the focus squarely on local concerns – the Waterview extension being the prime one.

Labour understood that Mt Albert voters were looking for someone who would be a good local MP – not some carpetbagger striding the national stage or someone representing a particular ethnic minority.

Much to National’s frustration, nationwide issues seemed to get little currency. The party’s strong showing in national polls thus had no spinoff in Mt Albert.

It was unusual that national issues played almost no part.

Shearer’s post-victory remark that the political tide had turned is misplaced. What Labour has done is stop the National tide going further up the beach.

The dominance of local issues, the fact the result did not matter, the carpetbagger factor and the neverending debacle that was Lee’s candidacy make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about what the result says about the Government’s real popularity.

As a minimum, however, the byelection is another item on a lengthening list of recent events which include the Christine Rankin appointment, the Richard Worth scandal and the Auckland Super City proposal and which have been marked by sloppy political management.

It has been an untidy few weeks, and the challenge for National is to be seen to be working again on the issues that matter.

That was again apparent on Saturday night with the party leadership missing in action, leaving Lee struggling on her own until the bitter end.

With John Key unable to be there because of a long-booked private commitment in Taupo, deputy Bill English or another senior minister should have been in Mt Albert to face the music.

It is understandable no one wanted to front or were advised not to front – understandable but indefensible.

The absence of the leadership sent a dreadful message to the party about loyalty. The leadership has to be there for the bad times, not just the good.

Key did have a very long-standing commitment that weekend, but I think it was a poor look more MPs were not there on the night. Only three National MPs were there out of the 17 Auckland based MPs.

There was one unexpected person though. Not at the main party, but afterwards a few Nats went to tthe Kingslander for some drinks, and I thought they were kidding when they texted David Bain was there having a drink – but he was. If he lives in the electorate, I wonder who he voted for :-)

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And the results are …

June 13th, 2009 at 7:01 pm by David Farrar

I’m interested in three things:

  1. What will the turnout be
  2. Will Shearer’s majority be larger than Clark’s or not?
  3. Will Russel Norman manage to steal second?

Should have the advance votes soon for an indication.

Advance votes are in and Shearer has 1,435 and Lee has 456, In 2008 they were 1,388 and 791 so if turnout is the same that would project a 12,500 majority. But only two booths in so far.

Six booths in and Shearer has a 3:1 lead – as the polls predicted. He has a 1,558 majority so far and only 3,658 votes counted. He could well beat Clark’s majority.

Only five booths and specials to go and Shearer has 62% of the vote and a majority of 6,534 and growing. Whether he beats Clark depends on turnout.

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Mt Albert Results

June 13th, 2009 at 3:12 pm by David Farrar

Assuming there is a power supply, I hope to blog the results tonight.

The official results will be here.

I have done a little spreadsheet that, if it works, will allow me to predict the likely majority based on some of the early booths.

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If you live in Mt Albert

June 13th, 2009 at 9:47 am by David Farrar

then piss off and don’t read this blog until after 7 pm!

Thank You.

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Mt Albert Backbenches

June 10th, 2009 at 9:00 pm by David Farrar

The pub here in Kingsland is packed – well over 200 people here – MPs, activists, supporters – a who’s who of NZ politics almost.

The audience is very noisy it will be hard to hear it all. But TVNZ have kindly arranged a place near the front for us, so will try my best.

Labour/Green supporters booing when ACT candidate introduced. I absolutely hate the boors who do that. You cheer your side and heckle the other side – but just booing is pathetic and puerile.

Just did a clip about the David Bain trial. Wallace did not mention he was a witness!

Each candidate saying why they should be the MP – 30 seconds each.

Nothing new.

Now they are doing a Mt Albert trivia quiz. Lee doing well.

Vox Pop on Government’ proposed motorway option – 6 support, 4 against.

God there are a lot of MPs here – even some from Dunedin – and you paid for all their travel!

Very hard to hear. Wallace needs to take control.

Signing off – can’t hear enough – lots of fun though – people should be here.

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Live blogging from Mt Albert Backbenches tonight

June 10th, 2009 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

Backbenches tonight will be in Auckland – at the Neighbourhood Brew Bar, 498 New North Road. It starts at 9 pm, but come early for good positioning.

For those who don’t get Freeview, I’ll be live blogging it tonight, and Whale Oil will be live twittering on #MtAlbert. You can also watch it later on TVNZ on Demand.

The four main candidates are speaking plus United Future candidate Judy Turner.

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Can Norman beat Lee?

June 10th, 2009 at 9:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports that Russel Norman thinks he can beat Melissa Lee:

The One News Colmar Brunton poll on Sunday gave Labour’s David Shearer a 38-point lead over National’s Melissa Lee.

Dr Norman was six points behind Ms Lee in the poll of 500 residents which had a 4.4 per cent margin of error.

That is not a very helpful statement. The 4.4% margin of error is for a result of 50%. Lee got 15% and Norman got 9%. The margin of error for each (at 95% confidence) is 3.2% and 2.5%.

So what is the probability that Norman actually was ahead of Lee? I have a spreadsheet that calculates these things and it is only 0.21%.

Of course things may change from when the poll was done.

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Massacre in Mt Albert

June 8th, 2009 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

As TV One ran the headline last night “Massacre in Mt Albert”, someone quipped that David Bain had moved into the electorate :-)

Instead it was of course a poll result for the by-election, and the headline wasn’t hyperbole.

Full poll results are at Curiablog.

David Shearer is polling at the same level Helen Clark got in 2008 – 59%. He will be pleased with that. Melissa Lee is at 21% – 8% below the 2008 result. Russel Norman at 15% has improved by 95% on their 2008 result, and John Boscawen at 3% is just 1% off ACT’s 2008 candidate vote in Mt Albert.

They also asked a party vote question. Labour are up 5% from 2008, and National up 1%. I would be careful about reading too much into that, as the latest Roy Morgan has Labour down 3% and National up 7% from the election. However that poll, while partly post-budget was pre-Worth.

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Dirty Tricks in Mt Albert?

May 28th, 2009 at 8:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mt Albert resident Jim Li, from China, said he had received a call on Sunday from a Labour official asking him to “book” a time to be taken to the voting centre this week.

“I said I wanted to wait until June 13, but he told me that it is safer to vote now, because I will be breaking the law if I missed voting on polling day. I agreed, because I didn’t want to become a criminal,” said Mr Li in Mandarin.

One day I should do a post on Labour’s dirty tricks in Onehunga and other Auckland seats when we had FPP. Non residents were enrolled, fake enrolments, dozens enrolled at same address, multiple voting etc. One advanatage of MMP is it has redueced the incentive for voter fraud, as winning an individual seat is not so important now and nationwide a few hundred votes has little significance.

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Shameful behaviour

May 26th, 2009 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

We are seeing the nasty side of certain people come out in the by-election at student hosted meetings. The Herald reports on the Unitec meeting:

Act candidate John Boscawen was accosted with a chocolate and cream lamington as a Mt Albert byelection debate yesterday descended into farce.

Malcolm France, a candidate for People Before Profit, attacked Mr Boscawen with the cake as a protest against the Super City.

That’s just pathethic – and even more so that it was done by another candidate. France should be banned from all future MTC meetings.

The blunder-prone National candidate Melissa Lee also came under fire. She faced questions over an email in which she was alleged to have said she wanted “a big diamond ring … to knock some sense into the media (although a gun is tempting)”.

The email was a response to a question posed by a magazine, which asked: “Which accessory would you choose: a gun, a fur coat, a big diamond ring or a grill?” Ms Lee said the email was written by a volunteer staff member who wanted to add some humour.

How that made the TV news last night, I don’t know.

In response to a question about what she would do if she wasn’t in politics, the mainly Polynesian group shouted that she would be “on a plane back to Korea” and she could “become the racist relations commissioner”.

I think this shows very clearly who the true racists are.

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Laws on Lee

May 24th, 2009 at 2:32 pm by David Farrar

Melissa Lee finds a defender with Michael Laws:

MELISSA LEE is a racist, apparently. We know this because the collective intelligence that is the Auckland University Students Association has passed a motion to that effect. And who are we to argue with the moral priggishness of undergraduate students?

Apparently the National Party candidate for the Mt Albert by-election demonstrated her preference for the hooded white sheet despite being Korean by opining that a new motorway might inhibit the activities of South Auckland criminals.

At no stage did she identify the ethnicity of such criminals. Nor did she mention that she was parroting the exact same sentiments as publicly espoused by a senior Avondale police officer some three weeks previously.

But it matters not. The Auckland University Students Association a collection of onanists and lefty liberals (generally the same thing) has spoken. And they would know a racist when they see one. Because they automatically hate anyone or anything blue.

Not just Aucland University students. A number of Labour MPs have also called her racist, which I have found appalling. Lee deserves criticism for trying to suggest a motorway would greatly impact crime, but it is ludicrous that one can’t refer to high crime levels in South Auckland and have people tar you as a racist.

David Shearer himself said on television that crime is higher amongst migrant and polynesian communities as they have higher unemployment rates. Now Shearer is right, but he does not get smeared as a racist.

And who knew that South Aucklanders were their own ethnic group? When did that happen? I have naturally assumed that the place is an ethnic melting pot comprising Pakeha, Polynesian, Maori, Asian and just about all others. When did they start inbreeding to the point that science or at least the Auckland University Students Association regards them as a distinct culture?

Indeed.

UPDATE: Brian Edwards also criticises the students:

How tragic that the Auckland University student body can think of no better way to express disagreement than to boo, shout down and abuse a speaker. If Melissa Lee’s comments about South Auckland were stupid and offensive, they were outdone by the Hitler moustache and the word ‘racist’ scrawled across her photograph. As it happens, Ms Lee made no reference in her earlier remarks to any race, so the presumption that the ‘criminals’ she was referring to must be Maori or Pacific Islanders comes entirely from them. I would have thought that makes them the true racists.

But where did the students get their inspiration from to call Lee a racist? The Labour Party Caucus no less.

NZPA reported:

Labour MP David Cunliffe said in Parliament yesterday Ms Lee was “worrying about brown people coming up your motorway and invading the good white suburbs of Mt Albert”.

And in this PR from Labour, Lee is called “bigoted”.

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Article on Shearer

May 23rd, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald does a lengthy article on David Shearer.He won’t be unhappy with it.

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Lee says she expects to come second

May 22nd, 2009 at 2:03 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports:

National Party candidate Melissa Lee says second place is the best she can hope for in the upcoming Mt Albert by-election. …

Ms Lee today told Radio New Zealand she expected to lose and hoped she could come second. …

“I think my chances are fairly good. It’s been 63 years in the hands of Labour, so you know I wasn’t expecting to romp in and actually win this,” Ms Lee said.

Asked if she thought she could come second she said she was hoping to.

“It would be really fantastic if I nudge in a little further as well but I am not expecting to win. It was always going to be a hard battle.”

While no doubt truthful, this is a serious error of judgement. A major party candidate should never state that they do not expect to win – well not in a by-election anyway.

If one wants to manage expectations, then you let others do that for you. But again a major party candidate should not ever say they do not expect to win.

There are many reasons for this. To take just a few:

  1. How the hell do you expect party volunteers, colleagues, and your campaign team to keep campaigning, when you have said you don’t think you can win. This is a winner takes all by-election – there is no party vote up for grabs.
  2. Just as seriously what message does send to your voters? This can be a seriously self-fulfilling prophecy – National voters will not bother to vote if they think there is no purpose in doing so.
  3. It effectively concedes despite three weeks to go. The Labour candidate had just himself had two rocky days himself and was showing vulnerabilities. A lot can happen in three weeks.
  4. It encourages the minor parties to cannibalise your vote – you have said you don’t expect to win, so they will try and grab anti-Labour voters off you with more vigour.

I actually regard this as a bigger blunder than the South Auckland crime remarks. They at least were said in the heat of a public meeting. This was said in a radio interview where some lines should have been pre-prepared. Acceptable lines would be:

  • “Labour have held this seat for 70 years and it is a tough challenge, but I don’t think any party can take the voters for granted, and I’m want to make sure they have the chance to elect a National MP”; or
  • “This was Labour’s safest seat and not been held by National before, but I want to win the seat and I would never pre-judge what the voters will decide”

There are many ways you can indicate that it is unlikely you will win, without stating you don’t expect to win which is a real no no.

UPDATE: NZPA now report:

National Party candidate for Mt Albert Melissa Lee says she does want to win the by-election, despite earlier saying she was hoping and expecting to come second….

Asked directly if she expected to come second she answered: “yes”.

Ms Lee said she was talking about the media expectation, not her own.

“I am not in this game to lose,” she said.

NZPA put it to her the radio interview er did not discuss media expectation around her chances, but asked her for her own opinion.

“I think it was a case of I am expecting to come second, at least,” Ms Lee said….

It was always going to be a tough battle, but she would not be missing out on spending time with her son if she thought there was no chance of winning.

“I am not putting in all these hours and putting up with media trying to come second, I am not. I am trying to win this damn thing.”

It would have been better if this is what was said initially.

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15 candidates for Mt Albert

May 19th, 2009 at 2:27 pm by David Farrar

The Chief Electoral Office has announced 15 candidates are standing in the by-election. They are:

    1. Jim Bagnall, Independent
    2. Ari Baker, Independent
    3. John Boscawen, ACT New Zealand
    4. Ben Boyce, The Bill and Ben Party
    5. Simonne Dyer, Kiwi Party
    6. Malcolm France, People Before Profit
    7. Dakta Green, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
    8. Rusty Kane, The Peoples Choice Party
    9. Melissa Lee, National Party
    10. Russel Norman, Green Party
    11. Julian Pistorius, Libertarianz
    12. David Shearer, Labour Party
    13. Judy Turner, United Future
    14. Anthony Joseph James Van Den Heuvel, Human Rights Party
    15. Jackson James Wood, Independent

    I have highlighted the candidates standing for parliamentary parties.

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    Winston still alive

    May 19th, 2009 at 1:34 pm by David Farrar

    A spy reports:

    MT ALBERT BI-ELECTION

    MESSAGE TO OUR MEMBERSHIP

    So can only bi-sexuals stand in a bi-election?

    15 May 2009

    Dear Members,

    After careful consideration and consultation with many members, electorates and former MP’s including Winston Peters and Peter Brown, the Board has decided that it is not in the best interests of New Zealand First to stand a candidate in the Mt Albert by-election.

    There are many reasons against standing and we can already see in the media build up to the event that there has been absolutely no discussion of policy. This by-election is basically a two –horse war and is simply not our fight.

    Our main focus at this time is to rebuild our infrastructure and lines of communication so we are prepared for the next election.

    We are currently working on establishing a new web-site with options for committees and members to log in and share information. Obviously some of our members are not computer literate; therefore we need Electorates to create telephone trees and news letters to reliably relay messages.

    Now is the time for our Electorates to be pro-active in raising funds and broadening our membership.

    Let’s keep our chins up and get pro-active. Our policies are working for New Zealand and this will become more obvious as time wears on.

    Soon New Zealand will be calling for New Zealand First and Winston. When that time comes we must have our infrastructure in place so we are ready to answer that call.

    Brendan Horan,
    Media Liaison

    Yes just like Christians believe Christ will return one day when called, so does the NZ First cult wait, ready for the call from the masses for the return of Winston?

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    Humour from Annette

    May 14th, 2009 at 10:14 pm by David Farrar

    I’m not sure if Annette King penned this herself, or one if her staff did, but it actually is pretty damn funny so worth a repeat:

    The Melissa Key Guide to Crime Busting

    1. Build a motorway – the more lanes the better.
    2. Direct all criminals (from areas you want to insult) to travel on the motorway preferably with signs on their vehicles saying “CRIM-IN-TRANST” to help Police identify them.
    3. Chose an electorate as far away as possible from the place you want to win as the destination for the mobile crims.
    4. Have all off-ramps removed to ensure a smooth flow of crims to chosen destination.
    5. Dedicate one lane as an expressway for crims who own cars.
    6. Dedicate one lane for a busway for crims who don’t have cars or haven’t stolen one yet.
    7. Increase public transport concessions for crims who are prepared to travel during off peak times to carry out their crimes.
    8. Encourage car-pooling of crims to cut down congestion and reduce the carbon footprint.
    9. Build motorways which cut through communities removing hundreds of houses thereby reducing the number of homes that can be burgled.
    10. Get a TV production company to make a video of your success in reducing crime.
    11. Avoid the PM at all costs because although you were once his “chosen candidate” he now thinks your crime busting ideas are silly.
    12. Avoid the good people of South Auckland you have labelled as crims.

    I especially like the busway for crims that have not yet stolen a car!

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    Melissa’s mistake

    May 14th, 2009 at 8:28 am by David Farrar

    Just been on TV3’s Sunrise this morning and we talked about the reported comments of Melissa Lee that the motorway would be good, because it would stop criminals from South Auckland coming into the suburb to commit crimes.

    I actually first saw the comments on Not PC and sort of hoped he had it wrong.

    The comments are of course a mistake. A politician should know not to repeat something they have been told (even if it was from the Police) if it is going to stereotype entire communities. The same thing applied for Lockwood’s comment pre-election. Like Melissa, he was repeating something that may (or may not) be true, but that doesn’t make it sensible to repeat.

    And in this case, it is bizarre to say that a motorway will somehow affect crime numbers. I think criminals know how to use a bypass. I was tempted to joke on air that if it was that easy to prevent crime, we’d just build a motorway around the Hutt Valley :-)

    So a pretty bad blunder by Melissa, who should apologise to put the controversy behind her. It’s a real lesson about the difference between being a general election candidate and a by-election candidate.

    There is also the issue of the video produced by her before the election, placed on You Tube. I haven’t covered that in detail yet because so far I can’t see anywhere what Melissa has done wrong – my stance will change if such details emerge. However mud sticks, and the timing of the video story and her comments last night mean that what was always an uphill battle, has just got quite a bit steeper.

    However there is still a month to go.

    UPDATE: Melissa has put out a statement of apology:

    Melissa Lee today reiterated her apology for comments made at a public meeting on Wednesday night.

    “I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made regarding South Auckland and the linkage that I drew between the planned Waterview extension and crime.”

    “I was wrong to have implied that crime is solely a South Auckland problem, or that the new motorway would reduce crime.”

    I sincerely regret my remarks.

    Kudos to her for doing this, which allows the by-election focus to move back onto the real issues.

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    Quote of the Day

    May 13th, 2009 at 9:17 am by David Farrar

    Steven Joyce:

    “We wouldn’t be prepared to spend $1.5 billion to buy a by-election – it would be completely irresponsible.”

    While Labour seems to regard that as a bargain.

    The number of houses affected appears to be less than thought:

    An alternative route for the 4.5km motorway, to be announced today, will probably require the demolition of at least 300 homes, against the 160 that would have to be cleared around tunnel portals.

    So the difference may be only 140 homes.

    Mr McDonald said that would make the motorway a wider issue for Aucklanders in the 2011 election campaign.

    Please do make it an issue.

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    Labour falls for the trap

    May 12th, 2009 at 3:36 pm by David Farrar

    Yes, oh yes. Darren Hughes has fallen into Steven Joyce’s trap. Look at this wonderful press release:

    “The people of Mt Albert are very clear. They want a deep tunnel. Labour supports that view,” Darren Hughes said.

    And Labour will force all taxpayers to for up an exra $1,000 or so to keep a few hundred voters happy.

    Labour will spend $3 billion on a tunnel, so long as they retain the Mt Albert seat. Darren shoudl be the Senator for Alaska!

    “It is disappointing that from what Transport Minister Steven Joyce has said today, it is clear the Government is not prepared to fund the option of a deep tunnel that the people of Auckland overwhelmingly support.

    Bzzt. Not the people of Auckland. The people of Mt Albert may support the $3 billion tunnel, but I know which option Auckland motorists and taxpayers will support.

    “Instead it will go with a compromise that provides second-best solutions for the people of Mt Albert and the future needs of Auckland.

    Actually the reoad will be more future proofed, as it can easily be expanded to six lanes – unlike the tunnel.

    “Melissa Lee’s candidacy has now been thoroughly undermined by Prime Minister John Key who is effectively dismissing her views as irrelevant,” Darren Hughes said.

    “Mr Key knows the people of Mt Albert are overwhelmingly opposed to the surface option, and that Melissa Lee is completely out of step with local opinion.

    And here Darren falls for it again. His only focus is the by-election. Yes it is quite possible this will make it easier for Labour to retain the seat. But they will now be painted as the worst sort of pork barrel politicians who even in a global recession are prepared to fritter away between $1 billion and $1.7 billion on buying a few hundred votes.

    Labour are so focused on the by-election they have forgotten the real game is about the 2011 election.

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    Govt saves taxpayers $1.7 billion

    May 12th, 2009 at 12:01 pm by David Farrar

    Steven Joyce has just announced a new preferred route for the Waterview connection – one that is $1.4 billion cheaper than Labour’s tunnel. Labour are campaigning now to spend $1.4 billion just so they can win a by-election, or as ACT calls it a buy-election.

    The tunnel will cost:

    The $2.77 billion figure was made up of $1.98 billion  for construction of the tunnels, $240 million for associated work on State Highway 16 and $550 million for finance costs during the project construction period.

    And the new preferred route:

    “The NZ Transport Agency has reviewed all options and has found that the Waterview Connection, together with the same amount of associated work on State Highway 16, can be built for considerably less, at an expected cost of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion, depending which of the options is taken,” says Mr Joyce.

    And the cost savings get better:

    “In addition, all of the options being considered by the NZ Transport Agency would be built with wide enough shoulders to allow for easy widening to three lanes in each direction.

    “An appropriate comparison, therefore, is between the top cost of $1.4 billion and the $3.16 billion price of the previous government’s twin three lane tunnel option.

    People will quibble over the numbers, but there is such a huge gulf between them, it is clear Labour’s tunnel is a vote buying extravagance that would cost every household around $2,000.

    Also from the Q&A:

    This review identified several options that are cost effective, allow for future growth and balance the strategic need to complete the Western Ring Route with concerns about local impacts. As well as costing significantly less, they could also be built 12-18 months earlier than the twin tunnel option.

    And the route:

    “The NZ Transport Agency’s Board is meeting today to consider the three alternative options and will announce its preference tomorrow, once it has had the opportunity to make first contact with those directly affected.

    “A thorough consultation process on the form of the selected option will then commence before a final decision is made.”

    I’m looking forward for Labour to keep campaigning for their pet tunnel. They may win the by-election but it will make great campaign ads in 2011.

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    Don’t blame the owners

    May 12th, 2009 at 8:13 am by David Farrar

    The Herald has revealed that the anti-Asian pharmacist in Mt Albert is in fact just a locum there. The owners are on holiday. He has apologised:

    Yesterday, the former NZ First voter conceded that “all groups have the right to representation in Parliament as part of the democratic process”.

    Very big of him.

    A friend of the pharmacy owners, K. Keys of St Heliers, has told the Herald in a letter how upset they are.

    “The owners are distraught not only that their locum has made such a statement, but that he should feel that way,” Keys wrote.

    I’d be ropable if I was the owner.

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    ACT responds in Mt Albert

    May 11th, 2009 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

    actmtalbert

    ACT have put up six of these billboards, playing on the Labour ones.

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