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?