Ohariu’s par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity

Ohariu has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing Par­lia­ment’s most rep­re­sented elec­torate, but is it the best rep­re­sented? Peter Dunne has had it to him­self for 27 years but his sup­port has dwin­dled. Will he be back? Cen­tral Com­mu­nity News­pa­pers re­gional reporter Jim

Kapi-Mana News - - ELECTION 2011 -

Ohariu has ar­guably been the coun­try’s most sta­ble elec­torate since 1984 when Peter Dunne, then a Labour can­di­date, un­seated National min­is­ter Hugh Tem­ple­ton.

De­clin­ing voter sup­port sug­gested Mr Dunne would fi­nally lose the seat this year, un­til Prime Min­is­ter John Key called on National sup­port­ers to vote for him, un­der­cut­ting National’s own can­di­date, Ka­t­rina Shanks.

De­spite a solid base of more than 20,000 per­sonal vot­ers in 2002, Mr Dunne shed 4000 votes in each of the next two elec­tions, al­low­ing Labour can­di­date Charles Chau­vel to close to just 1000 votes be­hind, with Ms Shanks an­other 1000 back.

As well as Mr Dunne, Mr Chau­vel and Ms Shanks, Gareth Hughes stood for the Green Party, the lat­ter three also mak­ing it to Par­lia­ment as list MPs.

These days Mr Dunne is United Fu­ture’s sin­gle MP and he has been part of a suc­ces­sion of gov­ern­ments, both National and Labour-led.

Otago Univer­sity pol­i­tics lec­turer Bryce Edwards said Mr Dunne should be as­sured of re­elec­tion since Mr Key asked National vot­ers to give their elec­torate vote to him.

‘‘I would think that he has got it eas­ily sewn up now,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘Not ev­ery National voter in the elec­torate will give him their vote but I think . . . you could take at least half of Shanks’ – 5000 votes – and add them to Dunne.

‘‘With that sort of en­dorse­ment, re­ally the wind has been taken out of the sails of Charles Chau­vel.

‘‘I think that Ohariu has ceased to be an elec­torate race of high im­por­tance.’’

Why is the National party vote in the elec­torate – 46 per cent in 2008 – so much higher than Ms Shanks’ per­sonal sup­port, at 26 per cent?

‘‘In the last elec­tion [Dunne] very much tied him­self to the National Party,’’ Mr Edwards said.

‘‘They [vot­ers] knew, by vot­ing for him they could help National and then they could give National their party vote. It was a very sen­si­ble vote split.

‘‘I think that Charles Chau­vel has not got that much of a chance.

‘‘He can only win by way of a three-way con­test.’’

John­sonville Mall Muf­fin Break fran­chisee An­drew Crook agreed Mr Dunne was pop­u­lar in the elec­torate. ‘‘I think Peter has done a fab­u­lous job,’’ he said. ‘‘He is a very, very elec­torate-fo­cused politi­cian and that’s why he keeps com­ing back ev­ery time.

‘‘I think peo­ple do feel fondly to­wards him. He has got his finger on the pulse.’’

Mr Crooks said he reg­u­larly sees Ms Shanks and Mr Dunne out and about in the elec­torate but rarely sees Mr Chau­vel, and has never seen Mr Hughes – and would not recog­nise him if he did.

There were no par­tic­u­lar is­sues fac­ing the elec­torate, he said.

‘‘School­ing is good across the elec­torate. I don’t think the schools are over-en­rolled.’’

Mr Crook sup­ported Mr Dunne’s cham­pi­onship of Trans­mis­sion Gully.

‘‘I per­son­ally think Trans­mis­sion Gully is a re­ally good thing. Also [the pro­posed] Gre­nadato-Pe­tone [road] is good.’’

Au­tostop owner Chris Kirk-Burn­nand said he was ‘‘ pretty dis­ap­pointed’’ in all of the Ohariu can­di­dates’ par­lia­men­tary per­for­mance.

‘‘We have got a good com­mu­nity but I think we have a good com­mu­nity in spite of the things that have been achieved by the politi­cians,’’ he said.

‘‘John­sonville seems to be a for­got­ten part of Welling­ton. They [the NZ Trans­port Agency] want their mo­tor­way to the air­port, but we can’t get the John­sonville roads fixed. They are al­ready op­er­at­ing at 100 per cent of ca­pac­ity.

‘‘We are all agreed that road­ing work [in John­sonville] has to go through, re­gard­less of the mall.

‘‘Not one of the can­di­dates has come out and taken a po­si­tion on that.

‘‘Peter Dunne is ac­tive in rail but can you think of any­thing they [the four MPs] have ac­tu­ally achieved? I don’t see any­thing.’’

Mr Kirk-Burn­nand said he has seen Mr Dunne and Ms Shanks reg­u­larly in the elec­torate, but has never seen Mr Chau­vel or Mr Hughes. ‘‘I want to see them push­ing for things,’’ he said. ‘‘I think it’s a pretty dif­fi­cult busi­ness cli­mate; we are work­ing hard at the mo­ment just keep­ing things go­ing.

‘‘It’s pretty hard for staff as well. You sort of need to know that ev­ery­one is back­ing your cor­ner.’’

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