Jacinda Ardern eyes up Mt Al­bert seat

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - SAMSACHDEVA

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.

PETER MEECHAM/FAIR­FAX NZ

Jacinda Ardern has put her hand up to run for the Mt Al­bert elec­torate.

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