Searching for candidates


One of the good points of MMP is that it ought to make it easier to find candidates to stand in electorates they have little if any hope of winning.

When it’s the party vote that counts, maximising that is more important than winning a seat and the candidate who does well campaigning in tiger territory has a better chance of entering parliament on the party list.

That’s the theory but it doesn’t seem to be helping Labour in practice:

The Labour Party is still without a candidate for the Rangitata electorate for this year’s general election.

A party spokesman said it had extended the deadline for another month after it did not receive any applications before the February 28 cut-off date.

Julian Blanchard stood unsuccessfully against incumbent Jo Goodhew of the National Party in 2008 and 2011, but has said he has no intention of standing this year.

Mrs Goodhew won by 8112 votes in 2008 and 6537 votes in 2011. . . .

Labour shouldn’t take any comfort for the drop in her majority.

Local support for Allan Hubbard in the face of SFO investigations, which was beyond the MP’s control, accounts for that.

So much for David Cunliffe’s claim that Rangitata was winnable for Labour.

That the party opened nominations without a likely candidate doesn’t say much for its organisational ability and problems with that are showing in Invercargill where they still don’t have a candidate either.

Lesley Soper was the only one nominated but the party re-opened nominations when sitting  National’s MP Eric Roy announced his retirement.

Michael Gibson is now contesting the Labour nomination against Soper  but the party has yet to announce which of the two it will be.

Whoever, it is, won’t find it easy to challenge National’s candidate, Sarah Dowie. While Labour’s still sorting out who will run, she has begun her campaign.

She was selected on Friday evening and hit the ground running  or more literally walking – spending a good part of the weekend competing in the Relay for Life.

Given Labour’s dislike of Soper and its policy to have an equal number of men and  women MPs, neither she nor Gibson can expect the reward of a list place for the work they do in the electorate.

We need Fed Farmers


Agriculture was one of my rounds when I started my journalism career in 1981 so I covered the monthly meetings of Federated Farmers. They were regularly attended by more than 30 people and the annual conference attracted nearly 200.


These days small provinces like North Otago no longer have monthly meetings and last week’s AGM had a disappointing attendance in spite of the promise of an entertaining night with the chance to debate MPs from National (Otago MP & Waitaki candidate Jacqui Dean & Agriculture spokesman David Carter); NZ First (Doug Woollerton) and Labour candidate for Rangitata (Julian Blanchard who was contravening the EFA by wearing a party rosette which wasn’t authorised).


I’d better confess I’ve got this information second hand. I wasn’t there; but that was because I was flying back from a conference in Auckland, not because I wasn’t interested. No doubt many others had equally valid reasons for not going, but the organisers would have also been battling the problem facing so many others – it’s hard to get people to meetings even if it doesn’t conflict with other engagements.


Service groups, sports or cultural clubs, churches … almost every organisation is struggling to attract and retain members; and to get those it has to participate regularly. It particularly concerns me that Federated Farmers is among them because it is one of few voices left which speaks rural New Zealand in general and farmers in particular. And as the urban-rural divide widens it is even more important that we ensure that voice is strong.


Federated Farmers has often been called the National Party in gumboots. Some members may also be members of National, some of its beliefs, for example in the importance of property rights, may coincide with those of National; but Feds is politically independent which is one of its strengths. Unlike unions which are affiliated to Labour, Fed Farmers acts in its members’ best interests and takes positions on issues uncontaminated by political ideology.


Feds led the campaign against the fart tax; it won the battle to exempt farm dogs free from electronic tags; it led the fight about unfettered access to farm land; and it is continually monitoring legislation from local and Central Government to ensure the rights and needs of farmers and rural New Zealand are protected.


We need Federated Farmers and the organisation deserves our support because of that.

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