What makes a good local MP?

March 27, 2015

Trusty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind . . .

These are the character traits a Scout or Guide is supposed to demonstrate. They are also essential character traits for a good MP.

Local MPs haven’t been so local anymore since that MMP has decreased the number of electorates and thereby increased their size but that makes availability and commitment to the electorate and its people even more important.

All of this makes me wonder what the people of Northland are thinking if the TV3 poll is right and 54% of them want Winston Peters as their MP when 48% don’t trust him and 9% don’t know if they trust him.

Why would people vote for someone they don’t trust, who doesn’t live in the electorate,  who will be at least as interested in courting the rest of New Zealand as party leader as he is in the people of Northland and who is coming to the end of a political career distinguished at least as much by controversy as accomplishment?

Contrast that with National’s candidate Mark Osborne who lives in the electorate, is in partnership with his wife in a business in the electorate, has children at school in the electorate and as a backbench MP at the start of a political career would have the time and commitment to serve the people of the electorate.

It is even more puzzling when getting Peters as a part-time electorate MP would give more power to both Peter Dunne and the Maori Party.

. . .Those who vote in Northland tomorrow will not remove National from power whatever happens, but they could shift the balance of power in Parliament from Epsom’s David Seymour, who is safely in National’s pocket, to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party. They will be the real winners if Northland elects Winston Peters. . .

And the losers will be all of New Zealand which needs a strong, stable government and the people of Northland who need a good local MP.


Little hints

March 9, 2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


Little can’t afford to stand back in Northland

March 5, 2015

Should Labour noble its Northland candidate, Willow-Jean Prime, in the hope it’s supporters vote for Winston Peters?

Not if its leader Andrew Little wants a look-in in the news for the next three and a half weeks.

The campaign will be short and sharp but Little can’t afford to have Peters hogging the headlines for the best part of a month while Prime hides in the shadows and he looks irrelevant.

National’s Mark Osborne will be taking nothing for granted even though he is the most likely to win.

With or without Peters in the race, Labour won’t win the seat.

But Little can’t afford to stand back in Northland.

He and the party won’t want their candidate to come a distant third if they’re to look like they have a chance of leading a government in 2017.


Mark Osborne Nat candidate for Northland

February 28, 2015

National Party members in the Northland electorate have selected Matthew Osborne as their candidate for next month’s by-election.

. . . Mr Osborne was selected at a large meeting of party members in Kerikeri today, pledging to work to maintain a strong voice for Northland in John Key’s National Government.

National is working hard and delivering for the north,” said Mr Osborne.

“National’s focus on investment and growth helped to create 7500 more jobs in Northland last year and Northland is currently one of the fastest growing regions in the country.”

Mr Osborne highlighted eight ways National’s plan is lifting Northland’s growth rate and helping more Northlanders into work:

• Building the Puhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance to link Northland to Auckland
• Investing $255 million over three years in local roads and highways across Northland
• Backing Northland’s primary industries through the $750m Primary Growth Partnership.
• Attracting more investment and job growth in Northland through the Northland Regional Growth Study.
• Reforming the RMA to address the costs, delays, and frustrations that are holding our regions back.
• Rolling out much faster broadband services for Northland.
• Introducing the Maori and Pasifika Trades training initiative across Northland
• Supporting Northland families with free doctors’ visits for under-13s and investing over $134 million to improve and expand Northland’s school network since 2008.

“These are vital initiatives for Northland’s future. I’ll work hard to see them delivered and build on that momentum by keeping Northland’s strong local voice in the John Key Government.”

Based in Taipa, Mark Osborne is an Asset Manager for Far North District Council. Through his work as a Northland public servant, former General Manager of Te Ahu Charitable Trust, Trustee of Mangonui School, and experience running family-owned local business Doubtless Beauty, Mr Osborne has strong ties to Northland. Married to Jodi, he is also a father of two.

Northland covers a large geographical area with several diverse communities.

It is regarded as a safe Nationals eat but and neither Mark nor the party will be taking anything for granted.


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


McCallum seeks Northland selection

February 10, 2015

Dairy farmer and party board member Grant McCallum is seeking selection as National candidate for Northland.

The party’s rules give the right to select a candidate to members in the electorate. Voting delegates  must have been members for at least six months.

They take that very seriously and would take a very dim view on interference from anywhere else, in or outside the party.

Grant is the first candidate for selection to announce his intentions.

He and his family have a long history of active membership in the party which means he will be known to many of the delegates who will vote in the selection.

That will give him a head-start but every candidate has to earn the support of the delegates and nothing can be taken for granted.

Northland is the seventh biggest general electorate, stretching from the top of the North Island, skirting Whangarei, to Wellsford and covers an area of 12,255 square kilometres.

It has no single big centre of population and many diverse and far-flung small ones.


Better than not very good

February 2, 2015

A 3news Reid-Research Poll shows  55% of voters think Andrew Little is potentially a better match for John Key than his predecessors.

How hard is that?

Helen Clark resigned on election night and anointed Phil Goff.

He never made any traction and had to work with a divided caucus.

He was followed by David Shearer who had to work with a divided caucus and who struggled to string sentences together in interviews.

A change in party rules resulted in the election of David Cunliffe who had to deal with a divided caucus and who could string sentences together but strung different ones for different audiences and tripped himself up with several of them.

Now we have Andrew Little who was elected on the strength of union votes not the majority of members or his caucus. But he can string sentences together, has yet to trip himself up with them and the caucus has managed to hold itself together over the Christmas break while it was largely out of the news.

Being better than three previous leaders who weren’t very good at all isn’t much of an achievement especially when measured against the popularity of the man whose job he wants:

Mr Key is on the up too though, and as for Labour’s bump in the polls, he’s got that covered.

“I’m not surprised,” says Mr Key. “I think Labour is cannibalising the vote on the left of politics as Andrew Little goes through his honeymoon period.”

Voters do like what they see, especially when compared to Mr Little’s predecessors. Asked if Mr Little looks like a better match for Mr Key, 55 percent, a clear majority, say yes, up against 12 percent who say just the same and 18 percent that reckon he will be worse.

But this is crucial. Out of National voters, exactly whom Mr Little needs to win over, almost one in every two, 48 percent, rate him as a better match for Mr Key.

“It’s nice to get all that feedback,” says Mr Little.

“If you think of the election result in 2014, Labour was led to their worst result,” says Mr Key. “A lot of people might think that given how bad that was you can probably only improve from there.”

3 News polls on the same questions regularly, and Mr Little has got some of the highest ratings since Helen Clark. For instance, 54 percent say he is a capable leader; only Ms Clark got higher.

But here’s the problem for Mr Little – 81 percent of voters rate Mr Key as capable. . .

As he is and that’s reflected in party support too:

  • National – 49.8 percent, up 2.8 percent on election night result
  • Labour – 29.1 percent, up 4 percent
  • Green – 9.3 percent, down 1.4 percent
  • New Zealand First – 6.9 percent, down 1.9 percent
  • Conservative – 2.7 percent, down 1.3 percent
  • Maori – 1.3 percent, N/C
  • Internet Mana – 0.6 percent, down 0.8 percent
  • ACT – 0.4 percent, down 0.3 percent
  • United Future – 0 percent, down 0.2 percent

As usually happens between elections the support for the wee parties drops.

 


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