Jacinda Ardern eyes up Mt Albert seat
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern has put her hand up to replace David Shearer in his Mt Albert electorate, saying there are ‘‘massive shoes to fill’’ in the Auckland seat.
Ardern, who ran in Auckland Central at the last two elections, denies the move is an admission she cannot defeat National incumbent Nikki Kaye.
The senior MP said her decision had been a dilemma, but was influenced by the redrawing of electoral boundaries at the 2013 Census.
‘‘A significant part of Auckland Central was moved into Mt Albert: Grey Lynn, Westmere, really significant communities, so the question for me was to stay in the old version of the seat or follow a large chunk of it over to Mt Albert.
‘‘I do think that seat will continue to shrink, and so really in the end I made a decision to follow some of those communities that I worked across for a really long time.’’
Ardern said the by-election would be a chance for Labour to present its vision on issues that were relevant to Auckland generally, and Mt Albert in particular.
She lost to Kaye in Auckland Central at the 2011 and 2014 elections, but still believed Labour could win the seat.
‘‘It’s the most marginal seat in the country, and a lot of the issues that Labour’s campaigning hard on are really relevant to central Auckland, particularly around housing.’’
If Ardern was successful in the Mt Albert selection, she would work alongside whoever was chosen for Auckland Central ‘‘to make sure that seat is won’’.
Labour leader Andrew Little said he supports Ardern’s bid and expects a ‘‘long queue’’ of candidates ‘‘because there was last time we had a selection required in Mt Albert’’.
‘‘We are constantly talent scouting, we have a growing black book and I think it will be an interesting exercise when we announce a candidate for Auckland Central too.’’
If Ardern is successful in Mt Albert it will make room for a list MP to join Parliament. Little said ‘‘one of the people on the list has indicated having left Parliament they don’t wish to come back’’.
Mt Albert has been a traditional launching pad, with former prime minister Helen Clark holding the seat before Shearer, and Ardern acknowledged it had a storied history.
Jacinda Ardern has put her hand up to run for the Mt Albert electorate.