Home' The Wellingtonian : August 11th 2011 Contents 2 THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 11, 2011
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CLOSING SOON - ACT NOW.
Andsotheracebegins. . .
Gordon Campbell today
kicks off The
to the 2011 election. In
the next few months we
will put the spotlight on
each of the Wellington
electorates and will
focus on issues such as
health, education and
Popular: John Key is buoyant in the polls.
Struggling: Phil Goff has failed to
rekindle any support.
In many respects, this election
looks like a replay of 2002 --
with a popular Prime Minis-
ter and an Opposition leader (Bill
English then, Phil Goff now) fail-
ing dismally to rekindle support
for a party turfed out after nine
years in office.
In 2002, Peter Dunne was the
alternative choice for desperate
This time around, centre-left
voters despairing of Labour will
have the option of Hone Hara-
wira's Mana Party or the Greens.
In all likelihood, the decline of
the Maori Party will leave
National reliant on Act for its
second-term agenda of welfare
reform and a partial asset sales
package, which may well include
TVNZ before the next term is out.
The main contrast with 2002 is
the state of the economy.
In 2002, an economic boom was
about to happen. This year, voters
are treating National as the safest
pair of hands in a very uncertain
Rather than blame the Govern-
ment for the existing high rates of
youth unemployment and other
social ills, the electorate is feeling
uneasy about change.
Where does that leave Labour?
At best, the combo of a capital
gains tax (instead of asset sales)
and removing GST from fruit and
vegetables looks merely like dam-
age limitation, rather than the
miracle needed to deliver an elec-
On the campaign trail, the
Opposition message will be one of
fairness. If wages are taxed, so
should the wealth earned by capi-
tal gains, and arguably, such an
approach would be preferable to
selling stakes in state energy com-
Labour and the Greens may win
that battle, without ever seriously
threatening to win the war.
Reason being: most voters do not
dislike or resent John Key's Gov-
ernment, not to an extent where
there is any discernible mood for
At best, Labour will be hoping
for a respectable showing in
November -- rather than a rout --
thus enabling Phil Goff to retain
his job for a while afterwards, at
Of course, if and when the
Labour/National gap narrows as
the election approaches, it could
be theoretically possible for
Labour to cobble together a ruling
coalition with the Greens, Mana
and a diminished Maori Party.
In reality, even the prospect of
such a Frankenstein Government
would damage MMP's chances of
survival in this year's referendum
on the voting system.
Since 2008 was the highwater
mark in the electoral cycle for
National, some local electorate
races are easier to call this time
Wellington Central looks safe
for Grant Robertson, who had a
1904 majority even before the
state sector job cuts kicked in.
Many of the 5000 personal votes
for (the retiring) Sue Kedgley of
the Greens should also flow
Even a slight swing against
National will make Trevor Mal-
lard (Hutt South), Annette King
in fortress Rongotai and even a
weak candidate like Kris Faafoi in
Mana more comfortable.
In Rimutaka, Labour's Chris
Hipkins faces a strong challenge
from Upper Hutt-based finance
executive and first-time National
candidate, Jonathan Fletcher.
The exit of Darren Hughes
makes Nathan Guy's retention of
Otaki for National much easier.
That leaves the battle royal
shaping up in Ohariu.
In a normal three-way race,
Labour's Charles Chauvel would
come through the middle, but
since National is backing Dunne
and the Greens are backing
Chauvel, Ohariu is far too close to
Prognosis: a second term for
National, with Act as its main
support. On the MMP referendum
the public could hedge its bets by
re-electing John Key, while keep-
ing MMP as an overt signal
against an extremist second-term
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