Boorman dies

The Wairarapa Times-Age reports:

The death of a former Wairarapa MP has rekindled memories of one of the most bizarre election battles in New Zealand’s history.

, 80, who was Labour MP for Wairarapa from 1984-88, and a veteran of the Malaya conflict in the late 1950s, died at his Bay of Plenty home on Sunday.

He entered parliament when the David Lange-led Labour Party swept the Muldoon government aside in a snap election, and served a single term.

But it was his manner of departure from politics that is best recalled.

In the 1987 election Mr Boorman clung to an election night majority by a mere 11 votes, reduced to seven on the final count, from National Party challenger Wyatt Creech.

This was cut to a paper-thin majority of a single vote after Mr Creech had sought a judicial recount, leading to Mr Boorman being nicknamed “Landslide” by his parliamentary colleagues.

The drama did not end there though as months later Mr Creech renewed his challenge, petitioning the Electoral Court to revisit the issue claiming some special votes should have been disallowed and in other instances voters were not qualified to vote.

The petition hearing was held at the then Solway Park Hotel, taking almost a month involving the top-guns of the law fraternity.

Mr Creech was represented by Brian Henry and Peter Gilkison, with then National Party MP Winston Peters who helped out by briefing witnesses.

Mr Boorman was represented by Colin Carruthers and Peter Ahern.

The end result of the petition was the final act in the topsy-turvy election, with Mr Boorman losing out to Mr Creech who was deemed to have a majority of 34.

In the process the electoral court found Mr Boorman to have breached the law by over spending on his election campaign, a finding that resulted in him being declared guilty of a corrupt practice.

Something the entire Labour Party also did in 2005!

People often get confused with this electoral petition. He did not lose the seat because of the over-spending. He lost the seat because Creech was found to have got 34 more votes than him.

And he wasn’t struck off the Electoral Roll as a corrupt person due to losing the seat. He was struck off for the over-spending. Despite being disqualified as an elector for five years, he was appointed by Labour to the Earthquake and War Damages Commission a month before the 1990 election.

Another myth is that Boorman was only found guilty of a corrupt practice because of the GST component of his spending. This is incorrect. He was in fact found to have spent far far more than the legal limit. Off memory around $28,000 against a $5,500 limit.

Despite this Labour changed the law in 1989 to remove Boorman from the corrupt practices list.

His wife of 30 years, Pauline Moran, was a Labour candidate for Wairarapa in her own right, gaining the party’s nomination for the electorate after her husband’s parliamentary tenure, but not succeeding in winning the seat.

This was in 1990 when Creech won by 4,141 votes.

Still all history now. Condolences to his family and friends.

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