Tricky elec­tion looms for Mal­lard

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

In Hutt South in the 2011 elec­tion, Labour MP Trevor Mal­lard won the elec­torate by nearly 5000, yet Labour lost the party vote to Na­tional by 2500.

What mes­sage did Mal­lard take from that re­sult? The same mes­sage, he replies, as in Labour seats else­where round the coun­try.

‘‘In the South Is­land, I think we only won one seat on the party vote.

‘‘People were pre­pared to vote for Trevor, while they weren’t nec­es­sar­ily pre­pared to vote for the party.’’

This time around, boundary changes will also play a ma­jor role. The western hills sub­urbs – Nor­man­dale, Har­bour View, Tiro­hanga, Bel­mont and Kel­son – will come in from Ohariu, and the Labour strong­hold of Nae­nae has been added to the Rimu­taka seat.

What im­pact will that have on Mal­lard’s ma­jor­ity?

‘‘It’s re­ally hard to tell, be­cause of the Peter Dunne fac­tor. You can’t trans­late an elec­torate vote in the western hills straight into a Hutt South sit­u­a­tion.’’

The Dunne fac­tor, Mal­lard in­sists, makes a ‘‘real mess’’ of the fig­ures.

‘‘My ex­pec­ta­tion is that on the 2011 re­sults, the changes have re­duced the ma­jor­ity to a bit un­der 2000.’’

Es­sen­tially, hasn’t the Hutt South elec­torate been gen­tri­fied by the boundary changes?

‘‘ There’s no doubt the only ex­ten­sive decile 1 area [Nae­nae] has been taken out of the elec­torate, and much of the western hills are in deciles 8, 9 and 10,’’ Mal­lard replies.

‘‘But to be ab­so­lutely fair, it is a log­i­cal boundary, run­ning up those hills. While the old bound­aries might have been bet­ter for me po­lit­i­cally, it wasn’t log­i­cal.’’

There are three ways Hutt South could pan out.

It could be a one-horse race in which Mal­lard wins as usual.

Or, a two-horse race in which Mal­lard and the Greens’ can­di­date, Holly Walker, work to­gether in the way the Labour/ Greens need to do else­where around the coun­try.

If that co- oper­a­tion doesn’t even­tu­ate, it could be­come a three- horse race in which Na­tional’s Chris Bishop comes through the mid­dle.

Asked to choose, Mal­lard picks the sec­ond op­tion: ‘‘My view is that it could well be close. I will say that Holly and I have worked to­gether across a lot of is­sues – both lo­cally and na­tion­ally, and on se­lect com­mit­tees – pretty well.

‘‘There’s noth­ing in it for the Greens for there to be a Na­tional lo­cal mem­ber. We reg­u­larly have a cup of cof­fee at the same cafe, but there’s been no cup of tea in the John Key/John Banks sense.’’

In one sense, Mal­lard is the odd one out.

Walker and Bishop are vet­er­ans of the Vic­to­ria Univer­sity De­bat­ing So­ci­ety, and are of the same gen­er­a­tion.

Yet when Mal­lard en­tered Par­lia­ment in 1984 in Hamil­ton West, Walker was a 2-year-old learn­ing how to walk.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, won’t Chris Bishop, at least, be ar­gu­ing that it’s now time to put the old man out to pas­ture?

‘‘I’m sure they’ll ar­gue that. And if the Na­tional Party is ar­gu­ing that people in their 50s are not ap­pro­pri­ate rep­re­sen­ta­tives, then there will be a large part of the pop­u­la­tion of New Zealand that will take note.’’

Ex­cept Mal­lard will be 60 come June, right?

‘‘I will be 60 come June, but when the cam­paign starts, I won’t be.’’

GOR­DON CAMP­BELL

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