OnPoint by Keith Ng

57

Plague, Famine, By-Election

Small towns cut off from the outside world by an earthquake which also releases swine-flu-spitting zombies from an interdimensional portal to hell have fewer problems than Mt Albert, apparently. (Fast-moving zombies, FYI.)

Shearer and Norman’s visions of doom sees Mt Albert being sliced in half by a motorway then annexed by John Banks. And because National has nowhere to go on the motorway, Lee’s found herself a winner with law and order: “Just look at what happened in Napier.”

Because… you know… there’s crime in Mt Albert… and there’s crime in Napier… which means that… crazy gunman is… crime… bad… and vote National.

Sigh. All these hoardings and slogans are triggering my PTSD. (I huddle in a corner and mutter: “Sell, iPredict, for the love of god, sell!!”)

Adding to the deja vu, John Boscowen brought his box of puns from last year:

No More Buy-Elections.”

I laughed. Still, it’s kinda ungenerous of him to say that spending money to avoid bulldozing 600 houses is “buying votes”.

The Greens are the last one off the starting block with their campaign launch today. They’re bringing out the “Vote for Me” campaign that everyone fawned over last time, but shot in authentic Mt Albert locations, with presumably authentic Mt Albert kids. Mixed in, rather awkwardly, is a new ad:

Get more muscle. Vote Russel.”

Ahem.

The point of difference they’re trying to push is that Norman is a party leader – why, just like Helen Clark! – and therefore he’ll have more muscle with which to fight for his electorate.

He cites the Greens’ negotiations with National over the more “Orwellian” changes that they wanted to make to the RMA, but more interestingly, he points out how the Mt Albert electorate MP can actually put a very large spanner in the works:

I think on Waterview there’s going to be a long battle in the community against the government about it. Cos these major motorway projects, they just end up locked in the community for [inaudible]. We saw it in the Eastern Motorway, which ultimately failed. The community can take on the government and win.”

I found it particularly interesting because it shows what a hole National has dug for themselves on Waterview.

Instead of the tunnel option, which already has substantial community buy-in, they want to opt for an option that is much worse than one that was soundly resisted by the community. Of course the community will fight them at every turn.

For the business community, this is going back to square one, with a high degree of uncertainty around the project. If the government saves $800m (just a guess) by bulldozing through Mt Albert, but the project gets dragged out for another five years while congestion continues to get worse, will business leaders think it was a good move? Will anyone?

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An idea that floated around the campaign launch today was to cost public transport options to see what kind of public transport alternative Waterview could buy instead. Would be great to see how they stack up…

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The worst part about this by-election so far is the candidates attempting to present their bona fides as Mt Albert residents. The fact that they frequent local shops and can name local landmarks is very nice, but if that’s one of the top ten things they have going for them, they sure as hell wouldn’t get my vote.

Lee really needs to stop apologising for living on the wrong side of the electorate boundary. And Shearer was in friggin’ Bagdad. He doesn’t need to be excused for shit.

While I’m at it, it was quite heartening to see him take the “private armies” stuff on the on chin. So he wrote a rational argument a decade ago justifying a position that is against party policy today. So he disagrees with the party on an issue. “Yeah. So?” would be a perfectly appropriate response.

Shearer is pioneering a new school of thought in New Zealand politics: You don’t need to apologise just because the Gallery read it on Kiwiblog. It’s okay, really.

FYI, I am qualified to write this post as I have eaten at restaurants in Mt Albert, and I’ve seen the suburb on Google Maps. Thrice.

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Also, dear media organisations, Melissa Lee is Korean. I’d given up on the whole “can you stop calling us Asians” thing a long time ago, but it’s pretty significant in this case: Most of the “Asians” in Mt Albert are mainland Chinese. They speak Mandarin. This is different from Korean.

For Chinese voters, getting a Korean voice in Parliament is a fairly meaningless proposition, so please stop looking for the “Asian” angle.

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