Written By: - Date published: 7:59 am, April 17th, 2018 - 86 comments
Categories: by-election, campaigning, greens, labour, national, nz first, Politics - Tags: jonathan coleman, northcote by election, shanan halbert
National and Labour have both selected their candidates for the Northcote by election.
Labour selected Shanan Halbert narrowly over Richard Hills. The decision took some time and I can understand the problem the committee faced.
Richard is a very good candidate and did an outstanding job in winning an Auckland Council seat representing a rather blue area.
The committee went with Halbert however who was Labour’s candidate last time and performed very credibly in cutting Jonathan Coleman’s majority from 9,800 to 6,200.
Coleman was well known and National’s new candidate does not have a great local presence. Halbert could cause some damage, particularly if the Greens and New Zealand First do not stand a candidate. Their candidates scored a combined 3,800 electorate votes last time. These votes will not get Halbert over the line. But they will get him closer.
A Government winning a by election is a very rare thing. If Labour managed to pull this off there would be significant repercussions for National’s current leadership.
National’s candidate is Dan Bidois. His first policy announcement was to oppose the legislation introducing the ability for Auckland to have a regional fuel tax.
He also says that traffic congestion is a major concern. Perhaps he should blame the party that has been in power for pretty well the whole of the last decade.
When you're complaining about congestion and don’t realise you’re standing next to the former Transport Minister who didn't fix it. pic.twitter.com/Xpboh18WjH
— Neale Jones (@nealejones) April 16, 2018
And tories really do my head in. They appeal to people’s selfishness for political advantage. Bidois is implying that Northcote should not pay the fuel levy because other parts of Auckland will benefit, not Northcote. This ignores that Auckland’s transport system is one big interconnected network and that benefits in one part of the network will have a beneficial effect on the rest of the network. Also this rationale would mean that no big projects, like the North Shore busway, could ever be constructed because not all areas would immediately benefit.
Halbert in comparison is clearly running a collectively minded campaign. From Radio New Zealand:
Mr Halbert works at Te Wānaga O Aotearoa, and before that was a policy advisor at Parliament.
He said his main focus is education and employment.
“I’ve been in the tertiary sector a long time, I’ve been committed to access to education and my priority has been ensuring that young people, second chance learners and our communities have access to local education opportunities.”
Mr Halbert acknowledged that he’s the underdog in the competition, with Northcote traditionally being a safe seat for National.
“We’re going to work hard and we have a very large volunteer base established,” he said.
Mr Halbert said the reality of transport is that 70 percent of Northcote locals travel on public transport.
On the fuel tax, he said people can’t “moan about the issue” then not like the response at the end of it.
“The reality is that we need to get some effective plans in place,” he said.
As I said by elections are funny things. The ground game will be vital. Turnout is lower and getting your supporters out to vote is really important. In Auckland over the past decade Labour’s by election campaigns have been demonstrably better than National’s.
I do not expect Labour or Halbert to win but I am sure they will give it a good shot. And if National lose they will have big problems.
If you do want to get involved in Labour’s campaign there is a sign up page here.