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.