Waitakere

No money for trains?

I’m finding it somewhat perplexing that the council on the one hand refuses to consider spending $6 million on a rail link that cannot guarantee sufficient business (and quite rightly so) but on the other is prepared to put Auckland into hock for $7.3 billion for a highly speculative central city link.

Auckland’s northwestern settlement of Waitakere is to lose passenger trains after more than 130 years.

In a move condemned by rail enthusiasts and local politicians as short-sighted, Auckland Transport intends axing the final 3.9km Swanson-Waitakere section of its network when electric trains start running on the western line in 2016.  Read more »

Today Last Year – Dec 9 2011

December 9 2011 delivered some golden moments when Max Coyle gets pulled up on a tweet about throwing Paula Bennett in prison.  He then foolishly joins the comments where he confirms he truly believes Paula to be a criminal in need of incarceration.

Regular readers know all about the sneaky and furtive dealings of Max Coyle for the Greens. The Greens shield themselves with sanctimony when it comes to badly behaving activists. They also profess to be squeaky clean in the way they approach MMP.

However time and again they have been busted playing their own little rorts with the system. In Ohariu and in Auckland Central. Max Coyle has also revealed the same trickery in play in Waitakere. He also reveals the nasty as well.

Am enjoying seeing the Left come together over Waitakere, it's a shame Paula Bennett will still be in parliament rather than in prison
@MaxDCoyle
Max Dillon Coyle

So that’s Max Coyle on the come-back trail after getting himself, his partner, and the Green Party in the news in all the wrong ways a couple of months earlier.

Trotter on Tamihere

Chris Trotter is not too enamoured with John Tamihere:

Mr Shearer’s sickness-beneficiary-on-the-roof story was one sop to the Waitakere Cerberus, his veiled threat to the teaching profession another.

And now, apparently at the behest of Mr Shearer, the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party has voted to re-admit Mr Tamihere to full membership status. Waitakere Man now possesses his very own ideological champion.

But what an ideology! Mr Tamihere is, after all, the man whose unreconstructed sexism and homophobia (“front-bums”, “queers”) cost him his seat at Helen Clark’s Cabinet Table. His subsequent career as Radio Live’s political shock-jock has only given these intellectually bankrupt and reactionary prejudices a wider audience. In welcoming him back, Labour’s New Zealand Councillors have spat in the faces of their most progressive members.

Because, like Dr Frankenstein’s monster, Waitakere Man’s newly-minted avatar answers to no one but himself. Labour has opened the door to an individual who regards most of its membership with undisguised contempt.

When, inevitably, he brings his knee up between progressive Labour’s legs, let no one who voted for Mr Tamihere’s re-admission feign either horror or surprise.

JT’s problem with the poofs

via the tipline

There are a number of rumours cycling through the tipline about Waitakere and JT’s membership application.

John Tamihere it appears is having a few issues with re-joining Labour so that he can take on Paula Bennett in Waitakere.

it seems that the rainbow faction is actively blocking his membership application. His application has been escalated to the National Council.

That particular course of action though is fraught with danger with the General Secretary being Tim Barnett and key and influential members of the National Council are also strong members of the rainbow faction.

Their grip on the party appears particularly tight and red-blooded Kiwi blokes just can’t get a look in.

It looks like JT’s forthright assessment of Labour’s front bench went down like a cup of cold sick, with one of those he affronted a loyal member of the rainbow faction.

This has all the hallmarks of being very messy with the rainbow faction treating Labour like some sort of exclusive single interest politically correct sauna club.

Dreamin’

The Septic Tank aka Carmel Sepuloni reckons she is going to come back in 2014:

Former Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni may have dropped the Waitakere fight for now, but looks likely to pick up where she left off in three years time.

Labour confirmed today it would not be seeking an electoral petition for the tightly-contested Waitakere and Chrischurch Central seats.

National’s Paula Bennett led the race for the Waitakere electorate by 349 votes on election night, but lost it to Ms Sepuloni after special votes gave the Labour candidate an 11-vote advantage.

Ms Bennett reclaimed the seat with a margin of nine votes after she requested a judicial recount.

Ms Sepuloni said today the decision not to keep fighting the result was a relief.

“It would have taken months, and I was quite happy with the process and felt that it had been fair,” she told APNZ.

“It’s not the end of the world, I can go and do something else. I’m very priviledged to have been an MP, especially at the age of 31 when I got in.”

Ms Sepuloni said the seat was winnable for Labour in 2014, and there was a good chance she would be back.

Che obviously hasn’t been reading what Josie Pagani has been saying about how out of touch Labour is, particularly with the very people who mostly reside in Waitakere these days.

Labour: broke and broken

Labour have abandoned a challenge against Paula Bennett, for cost, time and legal reasons.

Labour will not mount a challenge against the cliff-hanger election result in the west Auckland seat of Waitakere, confirming National’s Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in the seat.

“We have made the decision against seeking an electoral petition,” Labour secretary Chris Flatt said today.

“We have considered all the options; legal, cost, time.”

Bennett was in the lead by 349 on election night but lost to Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni by 11 votes after specials were counted.

But that was overturned after Bennett sought a recount that gave her the seat by nine votes.

Flatt said the party had discussed the possibility of a challenge with those involved in the recount.

“We have confidence in the Electoral Commission and the process they took.”

A petition could have cost $30,000-$50,000 and possibly more than $100,000 if Labour had chosen to challenge on the basis of malpractice.

There is of course absolutely no suggestion of malpractice on National’s part. Labour are more nervous of what an electoral petition would show on their side.

In short, it’s proof that Labour are both broke and broken – they can’t afford the challenge, and they haven’t got the heart.

With David Shearer absent and disinterested in helping the interests of the union workers over Ports Crisis, and now in charge of a party with no money and no balls, it’s like John Key has Shearer’s mojo in a little box on the mantlepiece, ready for Key to take out and be amused by whenever he feels like it.

Sepuloni too toxic for Greens

Despite the attempts at a stitch up in Waitakere it seems that Carmel Sepuloni was just too toxic for some Greens:

A big group of Green Party supporters voting for National’s Paula Bennett in Waitakere effectively cost Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni the chance of winning the seat.

But Labour MP Damien O’Connor has both the Greens and National Party voters to thank for his victory in West Coast-Tasman.

Statistics on split voting in the general election show that half of the 3308 Green Party voters in Waitakere ticked Ms Sepuloni but 13 per cent voted for Ms Bennett – the 429 votes more than enough to give her the win.

Ms Bennett only just held on to the seat with a majority of nine after a judicial recount.

That was higher than in 2008, when Ms Bennett got the support of 9 per cent of the Green voters.

More voter education required

The judgment in the Waitakere Judicial recount is online.

It makes for interesting reading. In a lot of respects it highlights some remedial work from the electoral commission in voter education.

There is clearly a need for some education around ballot papers:

Could, Shmould

Kate Chapman writes that an Electoral petition ‘could’ see Paula Bennett tossed out of parliament:

Labour is weighing up legal advice over a challenge in the Waitakere electorate, after it emerged National Cabinet minister Paula Bennett could be tossed out of Parliament if Labour won an electoral petition.

With the Waitakere result hanging on just nine votes, the Electoral Commission has confirmed there are no guarantees that any candidate who loses their seat as the result of an electoral petition would automatically be returned to Parliament off the party list.

But it acknowledges that the outcome is far from certain and the courts could take different views.

Yeah and John Key could have a heart attack…that is how much intellectual integrity such supposition is. Labour have never won and electoral petition, national has won more than a few and always increases their majority. The Labour candidate also usually cops a corrupt practice conviction, so Labour should go right ahead with their petition. There may well be a few surprises lurking for Labour if they take that route.

Labour insiders say a petition is unlikely as the numbers are unlikely to change. The cost is also prohibitive at as much as $50,000.

But Labour has not discounted it entirely and under one scenario raised in blogs yesterday, Ms Bennett would be out of Parliament entirely if Labour won a challenge, because the 2011 general election writ has already been returned.

A highly unlikely scenario that predicates labour actually winning an electoral petition, something that has never been done. As to the claim that it costs as much as $50,000 there is no supporting evidence of an amount that low. The Tauranga electoral petition cost over $200,000 and if a recall correctly the Wairarapa petition cost more than $150,000. I think the reporter is basing their $50,000 number on the costs that were awarded to Bob Clarkson at the end of the Tauranga petition. Costs awarded are never a good indication of the actual costs associated with a court case, much less so int he case of an electoral petition.

If Labour wants to burn a couple of hundy on an electoral petition they are unlikely to win then all power to them. They should be especially mindful of the likely need to pay for a couple of by-elections if the rumours regarding forced exits coming my way are correct.

Tell her she’s dreamin’

Carmel Sepuloni is dreaming:

“We will take a breather for the next few days and make a decision in due course whether or not we go through with an electoral petition.”

She said she would go to Parliament on Monday to collect her belongings and meet the party to make a decision on an electoral petition. But it was unlikely.

Highly unlikely. For a number of reasons.

Firstly Labour are broke. They only just paid for their election campaign and only after Jim Anderton rescued them by arranging some large donations. Electoral petitions cost around $200,000 and are time consuming and heavy on legal resources. Despite the claims of a third rate flea lawyer from West Auckland to the contrary, Labour didn’t have a lawyer present at the judicial recount. Instead they tapped former president Mike Williams to witness the damage. If they couldn’t afford counsel for a judicial recount then they sure as hell can’t afford an electoral petition.

Then there is the history of electoral petitions in New Zealand. They do not go happily for Labour, and always benefit National. In 1978 Winston Peters overturned the result in Hunua to turf Malcolm Douglas out in an electoral petition.

In 1987 Wyatt Creech took an electoral petition and unseated Reg Boorman. This resulted in Reg Boorman being convicted of a corrupt practice.

In 2005 Winston Peters took and electoral petition against Bob Clarkson in Tauranga. He lost that petition.

National would like nothing better than for Labour to decide upon an electoral petition. They will then be able to challenge a considerable amount of “special” votes and some of the election practices they have gathered evidence on. Labour have only a very remote chance of succeeding against Paula Bennett in an electoral petition, but a high chance of having their unwanted attention focused on their behaviour.

If Labour sought an electoral petition I will predict right here, right now that they would lose it, and Paula Bennett would have her majority increased and there would be the distinct possibility that Carmel Sepuloni would be convicted of a corrupt practice.

Is David Shearer willing to have Labour die in a ditch for a David Cunliffe supporter?