A sensible decision

September 19th, 2011 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Steve Hopkins at Stuff reports:

The leader of the Conservative Party, Colin Craig, has confirmed he will stand as the Rodney electorate candidate.

The announcement today ends speculation he would stand against John Banks in Auckland’s Epsom.

Craig says he was attracted to the challenge of taking on Banks, his former mayoral campaign rival, but he’s ”followed his heart by standing for the people” of Rodney.

”I’ve lived in Rodney and my business involvement here has spanned more than 20 years. Many of my family live here and I’m passionate about getting things moving for everyone in the region,” he says.

Craig’s father Ross Craig was a Rodney district councillor until the Auckland super city council was formed last year.

This is a much more sensible decision, than standing in Epsom would have been. Standing in Epsom would only have benefited Labour.

Craig appears to be seeking the same sort of voters as NZ First – socially conservative, and economically centrist. If NZ First does not make it back in, then in 2014 Craig has the possibility of picking up many of his voters. In 2011, it will be harder.

The Conservative Party claims polling in the area shows Craig is ahead of his nearest rival.

Meanwhile, further polling by the party claims to show Banks is struggling to win over Epsom voters.

Of those who had decided who they were likely to vote for as an electoral candidate in Epsom, 35.3 per cent say they would vote for the National candidate, 31.4 per cent would tick Banks, and 27.4 per cent say they would give their vote Craig if he was on the ballot paper.

So the Conservative Party claims it is ahead in Rodney? I’d love to see the name of the polling company they use for these polls, and what he exact questions were.

UPDATE: Act on Campus point out Craig was polling against the retiring MP, not the actual National candidate. He must literally have money to waste.

Personally I’m even more doubtful of a poll that says Craig would beat Lockwood if he was standing again.

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Mitchell wins Rodney

April 26th, 2011 at 9:06 pm by David Farrar

Mark Mitchell has won National’s nomination for Rodney on the first ballot – a resounding victory. Congratulations to him.

I’ve profiled Mark previously here.

Rodney is a very safe seat for National, so Mark is likely to have a relativly long parliamentary career.

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Rodney & North Shore

April 26th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I have tended not to comment on national party candidate selections, even when I have strong preferences. It’s a decision for local members, and it is essentially a private decision.

But sometimes a selection may attract public headlines, as Rodney has done, or have a national impact – as oppossed to a local impact.

Whale Oil has blogged at length on Rodney. His exposure of what was happening helped the Board nullify the initial selection process, and re-open nominations.

First there is the issue of the electorate chair, as reported by Tv3:

The National Party chairman of Rodney electorate was a leader of a pro-white homeland South Africa party, it was revealed today.

The Rodney electorate has already been in the news over reports of infighting and allegations the selection committee was stacked, and the process has been restarted.

Today, TV3 political show the Nation reported that Rodney electorate chairman Cehill Piernar had been a leader of the Conservative Party in South Africa’s Orange Free State, and he fought to retain a white homeland.

The Nation showed documents where Mr Piernar said that if the party could not get the-then Apartheid Government to agree to the whites-only state, “the only option open to us will be to use violence”.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said Mr Piernar was now a New Zealander.

“He’s in New Zealand now, we’re now a melting pot and people come to New Zealand and establish lives for themselves and he’s been elected by members in Rodney and became chairman some years ago,” he said.

Being electorate chair is a thankless task. Lots of work, no pay, and relatively minor influence. Mr Piernar has probably served in the background well for many years.

However his past is now in the public domain, and a past that advocated violence for a whites-only state is not a good one – even if he has since changed his views.

I’m a big believer that the party is bigger than any individual. Mr Piernar’s past has the potential to damage National. If I was in his shoes, I would put the party first and step down as chair.

Mr Piernar faced accusations of stacking branch membership within the electorate so a fundamentalist Christian accountant, Brent Robinson, could win the nomination for the safe National seat.

Mr Robinson’s candidacy is supported by members of the fundamentalist Life Church.

I don’t know Brent Robinson. All I know is that 150 members of a fundamentalist church signed up to try and help make him the candidate. To me that reeks of hostile takeover.

I’m all for aspiring candidates signing people up to National – but they should do that by door knocking and identifying National party supporters.

If a member of a rotary club sought nomination for National, there is no way I would expect 150 members of that rotary club join the party to vote for him. The fact that 150 church members have joined up suggests to me that it is because they wish to see National adopt their religious views.

I have absolutely no problem with MPs who have strong and deep religious convictions. In fact I consider several of them my friends. My problem is when they seek to legislate their religious beliefs on New Zealand.

I hope delegates in Rodney consider that their choice can and may have ramifications for the wider party. National will not continue to attract the broad based support it does today if it looks like it is going down a path of religious fundamentalism.

And it is on that topic we turn to North Shore, when Ewen McQueen is one of the candidates. Again I have not met Ewen, but he is a former leader of the Christian Heritage Party. I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to keep Christian Heritage out of Parliament, and to be blunt don’t want them to enter Parliament as a National Party MP.

Having the former leader of Christian Heritage in a National Caucus would send tens of thousands of younger urban voters fleeing to Labour. Hell, even I’d consider giving Phil Goff a go if that is the case.

When Christian Heritage wound up in 2006, McQueen said:

Mr McQueen said parliament was lacking a political party that would make a strong and clear stand for the importance of family life, the primacy of marriage and the sanctity of human life …

Mr McQueen said that those who advocated working as individuals to espouse these values within other parties ignored the fact that our parliamentary system was essentially based on political parties. This was even more the case since the introduction of MMP

Mr McQueen should follow his own advice and re-establish a niche party based on his desire to outllaw abortion, civil unions and bring back the death penalty (all CHP policies).

The delegates in Rodney and North Shore have the ability to damage the party significantly with their decisions. I hope they consider their options carefully and elect people who will help lift the party vote for National, not scare voters off National.

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Two interesting profiles

March 27th, 2011 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

Two interesting profiles in the SST. The first is of aspiring National MP Mark Mitchell:

HE’S HAD violent confrontations with gangs and criminals during 14 years in the New Zealand police force. He’s spent eight years as a top international hostage negotiator, at one point fighting for his life in a five-day siege in Iraq, a story which is set to feature in a movie made by Brad Pitt. He’s built a multimillion-dollar business from scratch.

As he is not a teacher, academic or a unionist I guess he is standing for National :-)

So the company set up subsidiary Threat Management Group to take security in-house. As CEO and shareholder, Mitchell grew the company from eight staff to about 500 in the first year.

The quality of their work soon won them top-level contracts, including protecting crucial infrastructures like ports, and keeping supply chains open.

Mitchell also became adept at kidnap and ransom negotiations, dealing with more than 100 hostage negotiations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Darfur.

If Mitchell does become an MP and eventually a Minister, then I’d say make him Associate Finance Minister in charge of bilateral vote negotiations. His background in ransom negotiations should serve well!

Also a profile on current Green MP Kevin Hague:

Then in 1980 he was arrested during an anti-sexism protest at a Miss New Zealand beauty pageant; a moment he states is his “most embarrassing political moment”.

“I ended up in a police paddy wagon with a group of women who wouldn’t speak to me,” he laughs. “They were all lesbian separatists.”

Heh that is very funny.

In the late 1980s he headed the Aids Foundation, before moving to Greymouth with his partner, Ian, and his son, Thomas, to take on a role as the general manager of planning and funding for the West Coast District Health board, before becoming the board’s chief executive.

This is one thing that makes me respect Hague – he does actually have significant management experience. Becoming a DHB CEO is no small thing.

Hague said he had never been the target of taunting over his sexual orientation since entering the halls of parliament in 2008.

The same, he said, couldn’t be said for other gay MPs, citing “prejudice” directed at Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson.

“Trevor Mallard, and also Clayton Cosgrove, refer to Chris Finlayson as `tinkerbell’. And I f—ing hate it,” Hague said. “That sort of overt taunting as a `fairy’, it is nothing other than prejudice. I don’t like that culture of abuse.”

Good on Hague for calling them out for it.

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Rodney selection cancelled

March 5th, 2011 at 11:57 am by David Farrar

In a very rare move, the National Party Board has cancelled and restarted the selection in Rodney.

The last time this was necessary was in Selwyn in 2007/08. That little episode ended up costing the party a lot of money as it ended up in court.

I think the Board has done the right thing, to make sure the selection is beyond reproach. Whale has blooged numerous times on the issues in Rodney, and the Board, by their actions, have shown they share his concerns. In fact Whale is even congratulating President Peter Goodfellow for his leadership on this issue.

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The Rodney selection

February 20th, 2011 at 11:31 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A National Party contender for the safe blue seat of Rodney is still in the running to be an MP, despite controversially stacking his branch with members from his church.

Scott Simpson, Mark Mitchell, Brent Robinson, Christopher Penk and John Kirikiri were all confirmed at a pre-selection meeting yesterday.

The five were the only candidates for the five pre-selection spots, to contest Lockwood Smith’s seat.

Robinson has sparked controversey over the past-few weeks within National Party circles after allegations that he has stacked his branch with members from his church.

It is understood he is linked to the Maxim Institute and the Life Church.

While not an illegal party move, stacking is not considered appropriate and members are particularly conserned about the party being hijacked by the Christian-right.

I don’t have any first hand information on what has been happening, but what I have read causes me great concern. Most of the info about what is happening is on Whale’s blog. I hope the 60 delegates are very careful with their choice.

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Lockie to retire from Rodney

October 27th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Parliament’s Speaker Lockwood Smith has confirmed he will stand down from his Rodney seat at the next election and seek to be returned to Parliament on National’s list instead.

The move follows months of speculation that Dr Smith would not seek re-selection in the blue-ribbon seat because of the constraints of his role as Speaker.

Dr Smith said he would continue to help his constituents and push the major roading projects in the electorate, “but as Speaker I have found it to be a little more difficult to be involved in political debate”.

“By my seeking a place on the National Party List, I feel that no matter what the future may hold for me the people of Rodney will be able to select a new member better able to voice their views in wider political debate.”

Lockwood has been a very popular MP in Rodney, and they will be sad to see him go. He will probably romp in at the top of the National Party list also. Lockwood frequently forces Ministers to ask questions they don’t want to, but this doesn’t dampen his popularity in the party. To the contrary he gets treated as a rock star at conferences, with delegates lining up to say how wonderful it is to have a Speaker who holds the Government to account -even if it is their Government.

I would not be entirely surprised is Sir Lockwood ends up in a diplomatic role towards the end of the next Parliament (if National is in Government again).

The selection for Rodney will be interesting. Steven Joyce lives in the electorate and is a popular person in the party (chairing winning campaigns does that). However there is no guarantee that there won’t be many strong candidates seeking the nomination and Steven I suspect will want to be careful he does not do a Phil Twyford and go for a nomination, and fail to gain it

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The Electorate Battles

November 12th, 2008 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Over today (and maybe beyond) I’m going to review the 70 electorate battles. Helping me in this will be the nice graphics above done by the NZ Herald.

Northland

On the party vote National was up around 6% and Labour down 5%. The majority for Carter of around 9,500 is unchanged despite Shane Jones being the candidate. A party vote of over 50% for National is quite exceptional for what is a relatively low income area. Of course some peopel going on the Te Tai Tokerau roll makes the comparison not so simple.

Whangarei

NZ First once almost won this seat, but Heatley has made it his own. The party vote for National hit 50% in a first – up 7% and Labour dropped 8%. Heatley’s 9,000 majority has expanded to 13,600 making it one of the safest in the country now.

Rodney

Not too many small handed voters here as Lockwood’s majority climbs from under 10,000 to 14,400. The party vote National goes from 52% to 59% and Labour falls from 28% to 21%.

Helensville

John lifted this party vote from 55% to 65%, and Labour fell from 28% to 18%. And his personal majority went from 12,500 to a stunning 18,500 – the largest in the country I think.

Overall the four seats north of Auckland averaged 56% party vote for National, making it one of the strongest regions in the country for them, if not the strongest.

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