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“Botany candidates keep it clean” Posted on 15 February 2011 by BELINDA MCCAMMON

Botany candidates keep it clean

Posted on 15 February 2011 by BELINDA MCCAMMON

Botany’s first by-election debate provided few fireworks this evening but plenty of opportunity for party candidates to try out well-worn campaign lines.


Botany’s first by-election debate provided few fireworks this evening but plenty of opportunity for party candidates to try out well-worn campaign lines.

Five of the ten Botany by-election candidates were asked to take part in the candidates meeting, with organisers saying having all candidates there would have been too difficult to manage and the other five candidates represented fringe parties.

National candidate Jami-Lee Ross, Labour candidate Michael Wood, New Citizen Party candidate Paul Young, Act candidate Lyn Murphy and Independent candidate Penny Bright gave a brief speech before answering questions from the crowd of about 80.

About 20 of those were Labour Party supporters, sitting in a block, the rest were made up of supporters from the other candidates with a probably only a minority of undecided voters at the debate.

The candidates were asked a range of questions from the audience, covering all the main themes, including the environment, law and order, access to the country’s beaches and affordable housing.

But there were Botany-specific questions as well, with candidates asked how they would represent the interests of the 49 percent of Botany residents who were born overseas, one of the highest rates for any New Zealand electorate.

Jami-Lee Ross proved to be a safe-pair of hands for National, sticking to message and sounding knowledgeable and confident well beyond his years.

Labour’s Michael Wood, Ross’ main challenger, did his best to target Ross but at times came unstuck.

Wood drew a shout of “hypocrite Labour” from the floor when he said he did not support privatisation with Ross wasting no time capitalising on it, saying the National Government had learnt from the mistakes of ministers like Phil Goff.
Wood said he would champion more community services and especially targeted the need for parents to have their early childcare funding restored.

Ross was asked if he was a person who could keep his promises given he said he would serve three years as an Auckland councillor but has said he would resign if elected as an MP less than a year into his term.

Ross said he was committed to Botany and could not have foreseen Pansy Wong would resign when he stood for council.

Candidates kept the debate clean, with no-one getting too personal, though Ross clearly couldn’t resist referring to Wood as his “fellow candidate from Mt Roskill”.

Wood doesn’t live in the electorate and is a local ward member in the Mt Roskill electorate

Penny Bright, a well-known local body activist, provided rare moments of light relief.

She said the by-election was a good time to send a message to the Government.

“First Egypt, then Botany – it’s people power time.”

Bright also managed to raise the most laughs when answering a question on asset sales, saying she was against them.

“Partial privatisation is like partial pregnancy, there is no such thing.”

Heckling was kept to a minimum and when the audience did seem to be getting too vocal, the facilitator Lloyd Wong asked people to respect the church the debate was taking place in and it’s spirituality.

The by-election is on March 5.

February 15, 2011 - Posted by | Botany By-election 2011, Fighting water privatisation in NZ

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