Following not making history

05/12/2016

A strong candidate and well-ordered campaign weren’t enough to make history on Saturday.

A sitting government has never won a by-election in a seat held by the Opposition and Mt Roskill voters weren’t going to change that.

That National won the party vote in the general election two years ago was irrelevant. It’s a red seat and voting reflected that.

Labour’s Michael Wood, helped by the absence of Green and New Zealand First candidates, won the with 11,170 votes, well ahead of National’s Parmjeet Parmar who got 4,652. The counting of special votes isn’t going to make much difference.

The result brought a good end to a bad week for Labour with two polls giving them at best 28% support and at worst 23%.

But they shouldn’t get too excited.

Maurice McTigue won Timaru for National in the 1985 by-election but Labour increased its support in the 1987 election. More recently, the Labour candidate won Christchurch East in 2013 but National won the party vote in that seat a year later.

Roshan Nauhria, leader of the newly formed NZ People’s Party, got 709 votes on Saturday.

He too should learn from history which shows how difficult it is for a new party to win seats unless it has the advantage of a sitting MP who has changed allegiance.

 

 

 


Bribe-O-Meter relaunched

31/10/2016

National has a lot to gain from winning the Mt Roskill by-election and Labour is already showing it knows it has a lot to lose:

The Mt Roskill by-election campaign has hardly started and Labour has already shown how desperately worried they are about losing it, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says. 

“Labour are hitting the panic button fairly early on,” Mr Joyce says. “Promising a $1.4 billion rail link between the electorate and the city looks very desperate.” 

“This is taking pork barrel politics to a whole new level. If this is the sticker price for a Labour party by-election campaign, all the other electorates across New Zealand will be asking for their $1.4 billion. To say nothing of every other electorate in Auckland looking for multi-billions in new railway lines.  And we’ve still got more than a month to go.”

Mr Joyce noted that the Labour party is promising Auckland ratepayers will pay for part of their by-election bribe. “I’m assuming the new Mayor of Auckland is okay with Andrew Little saying the city has got a lazy $700 million lying around at the same time Mr Goff is out there saying the Council is short of money.”

Mr Joyce says Labour would be better off promoting their candidate as a possible MP for Mt Roskill. “This is Mr Wood’s third attempt to become an MP. You think they would be putting in the effort making him look electable rather than highlighting how worried they are he’ll lose.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be about who is the best person to represent the electorate in Parliament. 

“Parmjeet Parmar is already showing the people of Mt Roskill that she is a hardworking conscientious MP who will be a strong diligent voice for Mt Roskill in Wellington. All this announcement today underlines is that Labour are worried sick that the people of Mt Roskill will choose her over their candidate.”   

These comments show National has learned from mistakes made in the Northland by-election.

 

And it’s just as well because the Taxpayers’ Union is counting the cost of any promises made:

The Taxpayers’ Union is relaunching its election Bribe-O-Meter to keep track of politicians’ pork-barrel promises in the lead up to the Mt Roskill by-election. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“While the by-election is for a single Parliamentary seat, the cost of pork-barrel promises impact the pockets of all New Zealand taxpayers.”

“Labour has run roughshod over Auckland Council and the NZTA’s cost-benefit planning processes. Its pledge to spend $1.4 billion on light rail risks an expensive bidding war with the Government – with the cost landing on taxpayers.”

“The Bribe-O-Meter is to provide transparency and accountability for what those promises will cost.”

The Mt Roskill Bribe-O-Meter will be hosted online at www.taxpayers.org.nz.

In a by-election voters can, as they do with their electorate vote in a general election, choose the person they think will best represent them and pay less attention to parties.

The more Labour promises to spend, the more it will be showing it lacks confidence it its candidate.

 


Opposition down one, can National make that permanent?

10/10/2016

When Phil Goff resigns from parliament the Opposition will be one vote down, putting National back in the position it was immediately after the election and before it lost Northland when New Zealand First gained another MP.

National list MP Parmjeet Parmar is expected to win the party’s selection for a candidate to contest the by-election.

If she were to win the seat National would gain another list MP which would make it easier than it is at present to get legislation passed.

How likely is that?

National won the party vote in the seat in the last election and Labour’s candidate Michael Woods won’t have anywhere near the name-recognition that Goff had.

But a government has never won a seat from the opposition in a by-election.

The Green Party’s decision to not stand a candidate will help Labour and the waters will be muddied by the candidacy of  newly formed People’s Party leader Roshan Nauhria to contest the election.

History shows new parties rarely attract much support. The question is: will any support Nauhria does attract will split the opposition vote or be at National’s expense?

Labour has the most to lose. Failing to hold the seat wouldn’t only leave the Opposition one seat down, it would be a huge blow to its fight to continue looking like a major party with any chance of leading a future government.

National has less to lose and a lot to gain.

History is against it, but a strong candidate and a campaign to match make a win possible although it’s too soon to say if that’s probable.

 


Optional hypocrisy

29/09/2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

31/08/2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


Parmjeet Parmar’s maiden speech

29/10/2014

National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Esteemed guests and colleagues, friends and family.  I will start by offering my congratulations to the Prime Minister and the National team for securing a historic win and a well-deserved third term. And may I also congratulate all new Ministers and MPs, And, Mr Speaker, you on your re-election.

It truly is an honour and a privilege to be part of this high performing team and to serve my fellow New Zealanders. I would like to especially thank our leader, the Rt Hon John Key for being a source of inspiration to me, and many other New Zealanders.

I would like to acknowledge the National Party leadership team, especially President Peter Goodfellow, board members Alastair Bell and Malcolm Plimmer, Northern regional chair Andrew Hunt and former regional chair Alan Towers.

Thank you to Hon Paula Bennett, Hon Maurice Williamson, Belinda Milnes and Ele Ludemann for their encouragement and support.

To my campaign chair and team especially Diana Freeman, Gavin Logan and Rita Ven Pelt – thank you. A special thanks to our volunteers and the Young Nats – you all are amazing individuals. And I’m also thankful for the tremendous welcome that I received from the community.

As my colleagues will agree, none of this would have been possible without the support of my family. My husband Ravinder Parmar has given unwavering support, and thanks to our boys Jagmeet, who turned 18 a week before the election and voted the first time, and Abhijeet, who is 12 and very eager to become a teenager!

Earlier this year I was chosen by the party as the candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate, and I am extremely proud to have repaid their faith in me by winning the critical party vote in Mt Roskill.

Now, I am a list MP who has the privilege of looking after the Mt Roskill electorate. About 39 per cent of the residents in Mt Roskill are of Asian ethnicity – which is more than three times the national average of 11.8 per cent.

Just under half of the people in Mt Roskill in 2013 – were born overseas, and I am one of them. 

Mt Roskill reflects the growing diversity of our country, and it is clear that the National Party reflects that diversity. Mt Roskill is comprised of small businesses, professionals and hardworking people looking to get ahead in life. I can assure them that my values, and those of the National Party align with their goals and aspirations.

Mr Speaker, I was born in India, one of four sisters to very hard working parents.

My father, Sham Jaswal – is now retired after proudly serving in the Indian Air Force for 38 years. As you would expect, our home environment mirrored the morals, virtues and also the discipline of the armed forces. Actually, I am grateful to my dad for that.

My mother, Kuldeep Jaswal, looked after the family, and I spent my early years traveling with my parents from one Air Force base to another.

Those early years of changing schools every three to four years and moving between different Air Force bases in different states of India helped me learn about different cultures and lifestyles and also taught me how to make friends quickly. I remember it being a very busy time.

Mr Speaker, both of my parents worked hard to raise us, and to provide for us. And like many of my colleagues, education was extremely important in my family.

I remember during my final years at school the exciting new field of biochemistry becoming a proper subject and a popular topic of discussion at school, which attracted me to study biochemistry.

I left school wanting to become a scientist to find cures for deadly diseases so I completed a BSc chemistry and MSc from the University of Poona, India. During this time studying biochemistry, I realised the importance of gene cloning strategies to identify the cause or causes of diseases and I decided to do my PhD in this field.

But then, as is traditional in my culture, I married Ravinder in an arranged marriage, and came to this amazing country to join him and start a new life with him in New Zealand.

On arriving here in 1995 and settling into life in Auckland, I wanted to continue my education at the University of Auckland.

I was lucky enough to find Associate Professor Nigel Birch at the University of Auckland to supervise my PhD – he is one of New Zealand’s great scientists and he played an important role in making me a scientist.

To be technical for a minute, for my PhD I investigated a possible role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth by its over-and under-expression in two types of cell lines.

Neuroserpin is a serine protease inhibitor predominantly expressed in neuronal cells during the late stages of neurogenesis and in the adult brain during synaptic plasticity.

The result of my research suggested a new role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth in-vitro, and my published papers highlighted the physiological importance of neuroserpin with emphasis on its role in neurite outgrowth, neurite regeneration and maintenance in the nervous system.

Simplified, my work looked at if it was possible to use it to re-establish connections in the brain.

My post-doctoral work built further on this research, and then later moving into researching on retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes progressive vision loss.

By this time while working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland I felt it was time to put my training into a more practical realm and decided to move into the commercial sector.

After spending some time in the scientific commercial sector I decided to use my skills to move into business and joined my husband to start up natural health products manufacturing within our existing facility that was being run by Ravinder to make confectionery and chocolate products.

My days in business were focused on product development, improving efficiencies and productivity, and providing that best possible work environment for our staff.

My time in my manufacturing business gave me an in depth understanding of our local and international markets, our food manufacturing sector, our regulations, and how we compare with international markets and how manufacturing in New Zealand is distinctive from other countries.

Our local innovation keeps us one step ahead in the business world. We Kiwis are innovative people and full of ideas to start businesses. While owning and running a business is stressful, busy and often intense, it is also rewarding. I am eager to work for our dynamic business owners so their hard work pays off and that their great responsibility is recognised.

Like my family, I have always believed in hard work.

Monday to Friday I was a scientist and then later a business woman, and in the weekends I worked as a broadcaster for 16 years on an Indian radio station in Auckland plus of course my role on the Families Commission and the Film and Video Labelling Body.

Somehow I managed to fit in raising our two boys, and putting in more than a decade working in the community especially in the field of domestic violence.

My values of strong caring families and communities, personal responsibility and equal citizenship and opportunities mirror that of the National Party.

During my time in this hallowed precinct, I am eager to make a positive difference in a number of areas.

Firstly, science and innovation, and in particular the conversion of science to business. We are producing very highly skilled scientists and I do not want New Zealand to be just a breeding ground for good scientists. We need to provide opportunities for them to explore their scientific vision in our homeland to attract more interest and retain that pride of good work.

We need to supercharge the activation of the amazing research that is currently underway in New Zealand institutions, and apply it to our businesses, our industries and our products. I believe there are huge potential advantages just waiting for New Zealand to seize them.

I am passionate about enabling and encouraging business.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses are small businesses.

If big corporates are doing well or otherwise we hear about it, but small businesses don’t often make the news, even though they make up a significant part of our economy.  They provide a career for those who value economic independence, they supply components and services to large companies and they contribute to innovation and invention – something that all economies require.

But behind every small business are a group of really hard working people in different industry sectors, and I think they need attention so they can keep making the contribution they are to our economy. I believe there is a lot more that needs to be done to help them thrive. I respect and admire courage of all business people out there and those entrepreneurs who are starting up new companies.

I believe in family values and in the need to mount a coordinated effort to stamp out domestic violence and build resilience and respect in family relationships.

For many years I have worked in this sector and have seen the impact of family violence on family members, communities and in the long run on societies. We cannot afford to skirt around this issue if we want to increase the quality of life for New Zealand families.

Plus it makes fiscal sense – family violence has been estimated to cost the equivalent of Canterbury earthquakes on our economy every year. Equally as important though, is the significant negative impact domestic violence has on children’s wellbeing, psychologically and socially.

As an advocate for gender equality I also believe in merit. I am a proud member of a party, and a caucus, that does not believe in a quota system for women. I am here purely on merit and I would not have it any other way. I think many other Kiwi women feel this way.

Equally, while I am proud of my Indian heritage, NZ is the only place I call home. I do not consider myself as just an ethnic MP. I consider myself to be an MP who brings many perspectives and experiences along with my ethnicity, which I will apply to the serious and important work of an MP in this House.

Mr Speaker, with a multi professional background as a scientist, business woman, community advocate, broadcaster, and mother and wife with strong family values I have come to the House determined to make a positive difference in the scientific world, business world and our communities.

I hope to use my professional background and my scientific background to simultaneously bring imagination and patience to my work here, as having learned that as a scientist that sometimes it takes multiple approaches to get an outcome.

As a business woman I bring the energy, drive and eagerness that is needed in a business person in order to see growth.

And as a community advocate that has worked in the heart wrenching field of domestic violence; I bring appreciation of the effort and hardships of our communities.

I am truly grateful to all the experiences in my life that gave me this opportunity to evolve into the person I am today.

Since becoming a New Zealander I have had 20 years of opportunities and I believe now, it is my turn to give back.

It’s a privilege and honour to be a member of a team that is working for New Zealand, the team led by Rt Hon John Key.

Thank you Mr Speaker.


Parmjeet Parmar Nat caniddate for Mt Roskill

14/06/2014

National Party members have selected Dr Parmjeet Parmar as their candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate.

“Parmjeet is an exceptional candidate. She has a genuine connection to the community and truly represents the people of Mt Roskill. I know she will apply her skills to work tirelessly for them in a National-led Government,” said Northern Regional Chair Andrew Hunt.

Dr Parmar said she felt privileged to be chosen to contest the seat.

“It’s a great honour to be selected as National’s candidate for Mt Roskill,” said Dr Parmar.

“Mt Roskill communities are making real strides under John Key’s National-led Government. We’re seeing a stronger economy with more jobs, better public services in health and education, and safer communities with crime at a 35-year low.

“I’m looking forward to getting out and about to engage with voters because Mt Roskill deserves a strong voice in Parliament and another strong, stable National Government.”

Biographical Notes – Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Dr Parmjeet Parmar is a scientist, businesswoman, broadcaster and community advocate with over 20 years professional experience.

She was born in India and migrated to New Zealand in 1995. A proud mother of two, she lives in Auckland with her husband Ravinder.

Dr Parmar holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Auckland, as well as Bachelor and Masters degrees in Biochemistry from the University of Pune in India.

More recently, Dr Parmar has been the Operations Director of her family’s Auckland-based Kiwi Empire Confectionery, a confectionery and natural health product manufacturing enterprise. She knows first-hand the challenges running a small business brings.

Naturally community-minded, Dr Parmar currently serves as a Families Commissioner, Community Representative on the Film and Video Labelling Body, and as Chair of the NZ Sikh Women’s Association.

Dr Parmar will stand down from her position on the Families Commission effective immediately to campaign.

She has committed to move into the electorate if elected.

National has again selected a very able candidate who has a varied background and many skills which would make her an asset in parliament.

Mt Roskill is another previously red electorate that is now more purple.

Phil Goff holds the seat, winning 57.15% of the votes cast, but Labour got only 43.61% of the party vote, not much ahead of National which attracted 39.53%.


Why stand to lose?

09/08/2011

During the 2002 election campaign we knew National’s chances of winning were slim but those of us working in Otago didn’t expect to lose the seat as well.

I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought Labour’s candidate, David Parker, didn’t rate his own chances very highly in the seat and possibly didn’t even want to win it. I’ve always wondered if he was standing to lose the seat but gain a toe in the door for a Dunedin seat when one of the city MPs retired.

However, whether or not he intended to win he did and served three years as an electorate MP before Jacqui Dean won the seat back for National in 2005.

Boundaries changed and the electorate’s name changed too. He stood in the new Waitaki electorate in 2008 and this time made it quite clear he wasn’t trying to win. He conceded to Jacqui  at a public meeting in Geraldine a couple of weeks before the election much to the consternation of Labour Party volunteers who were supporting him.

They made it clear to their party HQ that Parker wouldn’t be welcome back as a candidate. When he didn’t put his name forward to succeed Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North it was assumed he’d decided he preferred being a list MP. His decision to stand in Epsom doesn’t change that because he’s very unlikely to win.

Why, then, is he doing it?

Could it be because this seat will get a lot of media attention which will help his leadership aspirations? Could it also be that he’s not only looking for Phil Goff’s job but his seat as well?

Is he standing in Epsom not to win but to make a showing in Auckland and help his chances at selection in Mt Roskill when Goff retires?

P.S. His media release included this:

National and Act are taking the people of Epsom for granted and treating them like sheep to try and construct an outcome that brings MMP into disrepute . . .

That’s a bit rich when one of the aspects people most dislike about MMP is not accommodations made publicly between parties before elections, but that MPs voted out of an electorate come back on the list in exactly the way he did.


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