Mount Albert by-election, 2009
A by-election was held in the New Zealand electorate of Mount Albert on 13 June 2009. There were fifteen candidates in the election. David Shearer of the Labour Party won the election with 63% of the vote. The seat was vacated by former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark, who resigned from the New Zealand Parliament on 17 April 2009 following her appointment to head the United Nations Development Programme. Main issues surrounding the campaign included the building of the Waterview Connection and the Auckland Region becoming a supercity.
- 1 Background
- 2 Key dates
- 3 Results
- 4 Candidates
- 5 Campaign
- 6 Debates
- 7 Polls
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The Mount Albert electorate is based around the neighbourhoods of western and central Auckland City. It includes the suburbs of Point Chevalier, Kingsland, Avondale, Waterview, as well as the eponymous Mount Albert. It has been held by the New Zealand Labour Party since its creation in 1946; Helen Clark was its representative from 1981 until 2009 and enjoyed a large majority in Mt Albert, winning 59% of the electorate vote in the 2008 election while Labour only won 42% of the party vote. Prior to the election, National had 58 seats in the House of Representatives, Labour had 42, Green had 9, ACT had 5, Māori had 5, Progressive had 1, and United Future had 1. Labour had lost one seat since the general election, as a result of the resignation of Clark, which caused the by-election.
The key dates for the by-election are as follows:
- Writ Day – Monday 11 May
- Nominations Open – Tuesday 12 May
- Nominations Day – Tuesday 19 May
- Advance Voting start – Wednesday 27 May
- Election – Saturday 13 June
- Official Results – Thursday 25 June
- Returns of Writs – Tuesday 30 June
|Mount Albert by-election, 2009|
Notes: Green background denotes the winner of the by-election.
|Bill and Ben||Ben Boyce||158||0.76|
|Legalise Cannabis||Dakta Green||92||0.44|
|United Future||Judy Turner||89||0.43|
|Human Rights||Anthony Van den Heuvel||13||0.06|
|People Before Profit||Malcom France||13||0.06|
|Independent||Jackson James Wood||9||0.04|
|People's Choice||Rusty Kane||5||0.02|
|Total Valid votes||20,885|
There were fifteen candidates in total.
David Shearer (Labour)
Former UN Deputy Special Representative and 2002 candidate for Whangarei David Shearer won the Labour nomination from a field of eight candidates including lawyer Helen White and Auckland City councillor Glenda Fryer.
Shortly after his selection, media attention focused on articles he wrote for Foreign Affairs and World Today (in 1998 and 2001 respectively) arguing for the use and regulation of private military companies by Western governments for peacekeeping missions where they are unwilling to contribute troops. This was at odds with the position of Labour Party Leader and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff.
Media speculation prior to the selection suggested that the Labour Party nomination would go to then-current list MP Phil Twyford. Twyford announced that he would not seek the seat on 21 April. This followed media reports that the Labour Party was unwilling to allow Twyford's list place to be taken by defeated Auckland Central MP Judith Tizard.
Melissa Lee (National)
Lee faced allegations that her production company Asia Vision had spent New Zealand on Air money making a promotional video for the National Party ahead of the 2008 election. Lee called the allegations "ridiculous", saying that all work on the video was done on a voluntary basis. New Zealand on Air investigated and cleared Lee of any misconduct. The Green Party complained to the Electoral Commission, saying that the video should have been declared as an election expense.
- note: originally Cam Calder would have been the next list MP, but the day before the election (12 June) list MP Dr Richard Worth resigned from parliament over sexual allegations, so Calder became an MP regardless.
Russel Norman (Green)
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was the only nomination from his party and was the first candidate from a party then in Parliament to declare his candidacy. In 2008, he stood in Rongotai, finishing third with 15.84% of the vote.
John Boscawen (ACT)
Judy Turner (United Future)
United Future party president and former MP (2002–2008) Judy Turner was announced as her party's candidate on 14 May. In 2008, Turner stood in the East Coast seat, coming fifth with 3.3 percent of the vote.
- Ben Boyce
Ben Boyce is the second half of the comedy duo Bill and Ben. They stood on a "no policies, no promises, no disappointment" platform in 2008 and out-polled all other minor parties.
- Simonne Dyer
- Dakta Green
Former National Party chair of the Pakuranga electorate Dakta Green was selected as the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate on 2 May. Green had been arrested a number of times in the campaign for drugs offences. In response, Green has alleged police harassment and political interference in his campaign.
- Julian Pistorius
- Jackson Wood
Jackson Wood was the then-editor of Victoria University student magazine Salient. He announced his independent candidacy on 21 April, being the first person to do so. He campaigned from Wellington, instead of Auckland, save for an open-invite slingshot battle on top of Mount Albert on 6 June, which he invited all other candidates to attend.
- Malcolm France
Climaction coordinator. France's policies include:
- Civil disobedience against motorway
- No supercity
- $15 minimum wage.
- Rusty Kane
- Anthony van den Heuvel
Van den Heuvel is of the Human Rights Party.
- Jim Bagnall
Bagnall contested the election for the Union of Fathers.
- Ari Baker
A main issue in the campaign was the "Waterview Connection" – the connection of the Southwestern motorway at Mount Roskill with the Northwestern motorway at the suburb of Waterview, on the northern edge of the seat.
Transit New Zealand announced in 2008 (during the last year of the Fifth Labour Government) that its preferred option was for a two-lane tunnel costed at NZ$1.97 billion. The final cost of NZ$3.1 billion cited by the National Government included an expansion to a three-lane tunnel, upgrades to connecting roads and financing costs.
In May 2009, National's Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced that he was "not comfortable" with this cost, preferring a surface option costing NZ$1.1 billion. Although this option is over a billion dollars cheaper, the plan will require the demolition of 365 houses along the route in addition to the ones required for the tunnel option.
Labour called the option "second class" and that the decision was dismissive of the wishes of the people of Mount Albert. Green Party candidate Russel Norman described the plan as "better than the worst of all options", but added that the best anti-congestion investment would be public transport. National's candidate Melissa Lee backed the surface option, saying that the decision would bring certainty to the area. She also suggests that the tunnel option was "unaffordable". Meanwhile, Independent candidate Jackson Wood proposed a series of zeppelins to carry cars without the need for any construction.
Melissa Lee was widely criticised for claiming that the SH20 Waterview Connection would stop criminals from South Auckland committing crime in Mt Albert. Her party leader John Key called her comments "stupid" and Lee later apologised.
This happens..... people coming in from South Auckland get to Mount Albert, right?...and the thing it's like, hopefully, we could divert some of that traffic and criminals away from Mount Albert...—Melissa Lee, TVNZ News
|This section requires expansion. (May 2009)|
The governance of the Auckland Region was another issue that was raised in the by-election campaign. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance released its report at the end of March and the ruling National Party outlined its plans before campaigning began.
Labour did not support the current legislation relating to the supercity, and filibustered on the weekend of 15–18 May 2009, by proposing about 1000 amendments to the legislation, as the government was not sending it to the select committee process, and that a referendum was not being held for Aucklanders to decide whether a supercity was wanted. 
- Auckland University
- Public Service Association
- Combined Churches (Ecumenical Group) of Mt Albert
- Radio Live
On Wednesday, 10 June, John Boscawen, Melissa Lee, Russel Norman, David Shearer and Judy Turner (the candidates from five main parties) appeared on the TVNZ show Back Benches. This episode was filmed and aired on 10 June, and was reshown on 12 June, on the channel TVNZ7.
|Party||Candidate||ONE News/Colmar Brunton–released 7 June||TV3/Reid–released 10 June|
|Margin of error||4.4%||3.6%|
Shearer's huge majority meant that a low turnout was predicted, because voters may have felt that the result was inevitable. Actual turnout was 20,943, a 41% decrease on that of the 2008 general election.
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- Gower, Patrick (22 April 2009). "Twyford's list decision closes door on Tizard". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
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- "Norman sets sights on Mt Albert". tvnz.co.nz. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- ACT New Zealand (2 May 2009). "Strong Message is Needed for Change". Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- United Future New Zealand (14 May 2009). "Judy Turner standing for United Future in Mt Albert". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
- The Kiwi Party (4 May 2009). "Candidate for Mt Albert selected by Kiwi Party". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (2 May 2009). "Stop the Arrests – vote Dakta Green". Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- "ALCP: State Interference in By-Election" (Press release). Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Libz Announce Candidate For Mt Albert". Scoop. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- "Jackson James Wood for Mount Albert". Facebook.com. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
- Jackson Wood (5 May 2009). "Wood challenges candidates". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- "People before Profit against Motorways and the Man" (Press release). Malcolm France. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "ACT candidate smeared with Cake at by-election debate". The New Zealand Herald. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- "PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT:Lemington Steal". Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- "3 News > Video > Politics > Lamington attack interrupts Mt Albert debate" (video). 3 News. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- "Rusty Kane: The Full Interview" (Press release). Rusty Kane. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Rusty Kane (26 June 2009). "Rusty referenda". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 7 February 2010.[dead link]
- "15 candidates to contest Mt Albert by-election". Radio New Zealand. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
- Transit New Zealand. "Transit – Waterview Connection". Retrieved 8 February 2008.
- Dearnaley, Mathew (31 January 2009). "Cost blowout threatens tunnel plan". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- Dearnaley, Matthew (14 May 2009). "Western ring route dooms 365 houses". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- New Zealand Labour Party (12 May 2009). "Lee isolated on Waterview option". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- "Emotions run high at Waterview Motorway Connection meeting". One News. Television New Zealand. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- Field, Michael; New Zealand Press Association (13 May 2009). "Mt Albert tunnel plan dropped". Manawatu Standard. scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Jackson Wood Floats New Solution To Waterview" (Press release). Jackson Wood. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "MP: Motorway would keep South Auckland criminals out". The New Zealand Herald. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Political gaffes leave Melissa Lee's campaign in tatters". 3 News. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Manukau mayor accepts Lee's apology". The New Zealand Herald. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
- Newstalk ZB and New Zealand Press Association (14 May 2010). "Lee steps into another controversy". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- "Labour filibuster on Supercity bills". Stuff. New Zealand. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
- "Super City filibuster is beaten at last << Alf Grumble". 17 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Mt Albert candidates David Shearer and Melissa Lee" (video). 10 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- "Mt Albert candidates Russel Norman and John Boscawen" (video). 7 June 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- "Back Benches Episode 19, Series 2009" (video). 10 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
- "Labour well ahead in Mt Albert". ONE News (Television New Zealand). 7 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
- "Labour well ahead in Mt Albert" (video). ONE News. Television New Zealand. 7 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
- "Mt. Albert (By-Election) Electorate Poll". ONE News/Colmar Brunton. Television New Zealand. 7 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "David Shearer to win Mt Albert seat". 3 News (TV3). 10 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Labour's Shearer strolling to by-election win in Mt Albert: Poll". The New Zealand Herald. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- Young, Audrey (8 June 2009). "Grim poll result caps bad week for Nats". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Mt Albert: Electoral Profile". Parliamentary Library. 26 August 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
- Elections New Zealand – Mount Albert by-election page
- Campaign sites