Im­pas­sioned by-election clash

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

While the re­sult of the US election shook the world, Mt Roskill was hav­ing po­lit­i­cal drama of its own.

A Cen­tral Leader by-election de­bate be­tween Na­tional’s Par­m­jeet Par­mar and Labour’s Michael Wood saw a packed and zeal­ous turnout at the Fick­ling Cen­tre on Mt Al­bert Rd on Wed­nes­day night.

Adding to the ten­sion, there was al­most a phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion be­tween Wood and a Na­tional sup­porter fol­low­ing the de­bate.

The night be­gan with pro­test­ers out­side the build­ing voic­ing frus­tra­tion at Par­mar, who is of In­dian de­scent, over the pro­posed de­por­ta­tion of In­dian stu­dents due to visa fraud.

More than 40 of the group were heard yelling ‘‘shame’’ as she en­tered the build­ing.

About 10 min­utes later, in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Tua Schus­ter in­ter­rupted Wood to protest his ex­clu­sion from the de­bate.

For over two min­utes Schus­ter blared his frus­tra­tion across the room while de­bate ad­ju­di­ca­tors and au­di­ence mem­bers re­peat­edly told him to be quiet and sit down.

One per­son could be heard yelling, ‘‘This is not Amer­ica, all right?’’.

Roughly 160 peo­ple turned out for the de­bate hosted by the Cen­tral Leader that was live streamed on its Face­book page.

It cov­ered is­sues of the hous­ing de­vel­op­ment at the Three Kings Quarry, Labour’s light rail pro­posal, the clos­ing of the Mt Roskill po­lice sta­tion to the pub­lic, school fund­ing and immigration.

When dis­cussing the line be­tween lo­cal board and Gov­ern­ment, Wood be­came ex­as­per­ated when an au­di­ence mem­ber yelled a re­mark about his wife Julie Fairey, the for­mer chair of the Puke­ta­papa Lo­cal Board.

‘‘Ex­cuse me if I hear com­ments about my wife from the Na­tional Party front row there might be some prob­lems af­ter this meet­ing,’’ Wood said.

He was still fired up af­ter the de­bate and was seen an­grily con­fronting the per­son.

Pro­test­ers were seen ex­it­ing the build­ing chant­ing ’’stu­dents rights are un­der at­tack, stand up fight back’’.

Out­side a group of them sur­rounded Par­mar’s ve­hi­cle with po­lice say­ing they were close to mak­ing ar­rests. In to­tal, seven can­di­dates have thrown their hats in the ring for the by-election, which was trig­gered by for­mer MP Phil Goff’s ap­point­ment as Auck­land mayor. The by-election will be held on De­cem­ber 3.

The stage at the Fick­ling Cen­tre saw Labour’s Michael Wood and Na­tional’s Par­m­jeet Par­mar go head-to-head.

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