The Count Is On: Labour 44 – All Others 23
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The Count Is On -
Electoral boundaries: Labour 44 – All Others 23
The recently released electoral boundaries
are a victory for the Labour Party.
As a rule it is in
the interests of the opposition party (National in this
case) to create as many marginal electorates as possible. A
whole swag of marginal seats is regarded as positive as it
opens up the prospect of close election contests were a
candidate who campaigns for two ticks – the party vote and
the electorate vote – can win the electorate.
incumbent party (Labour) the best outcome is to have as many
‘safe’ electorates as possible. A seat that a party can
expect to win by a significant margin seldom generates an
opposition campaign of any substance. The incumbent
candidate has a better opportunity to influence of the
campaign agenda and has more flexibility to campaign for the
Well that’s the theory anyway.
it must have been particularly satisfying for Labour
president Mike Williams to see the Representation Commission
confirm electoral boundaries that are likely to deliver a
swath of Labour fortresses at the forthcoming election.
Auckland is Labour’s first victory. The new
Waitakere electorate gives Labour candidate Lynne Pillay a
majority on paper of around 4,000 votes. Notwithstanding
Alliance Party leader Laila Harre’s candidacy, Pillay
benefits from boundaries that include suburbs such as
McLaren Park, and Glen Eden – rich pickings for Labour.
Also in Auckland, boundary changes create New Lynn, a
fortress Labour electorate for David Cunliffe. His seat is
among five in Auckland City – New Lynn, Mt Albert, Auckland
Central, Mt Roskill and Maungakiekie – that Labour is likely
In Manukau City the Representation Commission
has strengthened Labour’s hold on Manukau East. Ross
Robertson has kept Labour-leaning Papatoetoe, Otara and East
Tamaki, while losing part of National-leaning Howick to the
new Clevedon seat. Further south, the Manurewa electorate
looks set to return Police Minister George Hawkins for
Elsewhere in the Auckland region,
other Labour incumbents look set to win comfortably. No
boundary changes means that Northcote MP Ann Hartley, who
won in 1999 by less than 300 votes, is likely to win and
significantly increase her majority this year.
National’s bright spot in Auckland is located in the
northwest corner of the city. The new and ultra safe
National seat of Helensville will elect candidate John Keys
The National Party has bombed out in
Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. The boundaries in Hamilton
effectively deliver the status quo – a Labour marginal
(West) and a National marginal (East). However look for
Martin Gallagher to extend his majority over National list
MP Bob Simcock, beyond 2,000 votes in Hamilton West.
National’s Tony Ryall should hold the Bay of Plenty
electorate by a reasonable margin. Although his seat has
been moved further west and he will shed Whakatane to the
East Coast electorate, which in turn is held by Labour
backbencher Janet Mackey. Whakatane provides Ryall with a
lot of personal support, although it should help to keep
Mackey’s majority in the East Coast beyond 3,000 votes.
Labour’s Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick picks up some
National-leaning Reporoa and Broadlands from her Labour
colleague Mark Burton, the MP for Taupo. However such is
Chadwick’s majority that she looks set to win Rotorua by at
least several thousand votes.
Taupo is a huge victory
for the Labour Party. Gaining Labour-leaning Taumarunui in
the southwest has offset the loss of National-leaning areas
in the northeast. Taupo is a genuine marginal seat for
Labour. The changes to this enormous electorate will help
to add to Burton’s majority – a dire prospect for National.
Elsewhere, boundaries in the North Island are largely
unchanged. Labour’s Whanganui MP Jill Pettis will contest
an electorate that has been moved further west into rural
south Taranaki. Although her majority is unlikely to fall.
In fact smaller towns such as Eltham and Manaia may well
contribute to pushing Pettis’ majority beyond 3,500 votes.
Rangitikei is the only seat held by National in the
south of the North Island. With effectively no change to
the electoral boundaries, Labour looks set to hold every
seat in Wellington except Ohariu-Belmont, which is a
fortress for United Future MP Peter Dunne.
is placing high hopes on taking Wellington Central off
Labour’s Marian Hobbs. But National has absolutely no hope
anywhere else. Seats like Rongotai, Hutt South, Rimutaka,
and Mana are all safe Labour electorates. Wairarapa, which
shocked many political commentators when it fell to Georgina
Beyer in 1999, might shock pundits again – with Beyer
increasing her majority.
If the North Island looks
bad for National then the boundaries defining electorates in
the South Island offer no comfort.
rural electorates are held by massive majorities. West
Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Conner is well respected and enjoys
immense personal support. Aoraki MP Jim Sutton is a popular
south Canterbury farmer who boasts a majority in excess of
National have no realistic change of
winning either electorate in Dunedin, which are both held by
local Labour personalities Pete Hodgson and David
Benson-Pope. National’s Dunedin-based list MP Katherine
Rich secured less than 20 percent of the vote in Dunedin
North in 1999. She is unlikely to improve on that result
Minor boundary changes are unlikely to
alter the electoral landscape in Christchurch. Labour will
hold Christchurch Central and Christchurch East, probably by
over 10,000 votes respectively. Marginal Waimakariri, held
by Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove, may well become a ‘safe seat’
as voters warm to Cosgrove’s staunch and parochial style of
National’s other big chance in Canterbury
is the Banks Peninsula seat held by Disability Issues
Minister Ruth Dyson. National had hoped to move
Labour-leaning Woolston out of that electorate thus denying
Dyson a solid block of Labour supporters.
Representation Commission rejected National’s proposed
changes in Banks Peninsula. Dyson is likely to hold the
electorate and deny National the opportunity to pick up a
marginal seat in the South Island.
electorates are not National’s battleground. Labour should
win all seven Maori electorates by overwhelming majorities,
whereas National will struggle to secure double-digit
support among Maori electors.
inability to secure coverage in the media, dominate the
government in parliament, or gain traction in the public
opinion polls, Labour must be particularly pleased with the
boundaries confirmed by the Representation Commission.
Outpolling National by more than two to one in the
electorate contests gives Labour a huge head start from
which to build on.
National president Michelle Boag’s
speeches and reported comments about Helen Clark have become
increasingly shrill and vitriolic in recent weeks. Is
Boag’s frustration caused by (a) Clark’s exemplary handling
of the media, (b) the government’s good relationship with
stakeholder groups across all portfolios, or (c) National’s
disastrous deficit in the electorates? You be the judge.
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