The Auckland local government elections have been marked by unfortunate incidents. Alleged false voter registrations by a candidate linked to the Labour Party. Alleged illegal offers of money to voters involving five National Party members. And the dumping of voting papers bound for South Auckland. It’s a tribute to the strength of our democratic mechanisms that all of these were identified in good time, and that no harm to the outcome has resulted.
Labour candidate for the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board Daljit Singh was one of two named in relation to the false registrations. This seems a pretty crude attempt at perverting an election and a stupid one that no sophisticated political player would ever think they could get away with.
Labour had no selection contest for Singh’s candidacy. 3 people applied to represent them for 4 positions on local board. So they just checked backgrounds and Singh looked good: he’s a pillar of the Sikh community, and although there were some doubts expressed about him nothing could be substantiated. He’s not been lifelong Labour, he’s a relatively recent joiner – although I’m not sure exactly how long he’s been member. [Update: since May this year]
He’s a real estate agent, which no doubt gave him the opportunity (responsible for numerous homes), and a wheeler-dealer, used to doing what it takes to get the deal done.
Naturally, Labour is keen to cut themselves off from him to prevent wider damage. Indeed, Labour’s press release seems to be premised on Singh probably being guilty. Sources behind the scenes say the Counties-Manukau Police have found Labour worked well with them on the ground to get to the bottom of the issue and Labour has been completely cooperative. Police have apparently described Labour’s help as exemplary and said there’s no suspicion of any Labour people involvement (beyond the candidate himself).
With hundreds and hundreds of candidates for local elections, and a selection process that is handled by the local branches, there’s always the risk of something like this going wrong. Labour has acted completely correctly in helping the Police in their investigations. In future, unfortunately, they’re going to have to be more rigorous in their selection processes.
lprent: added link that people were requesting about police comment on Labour.