DR BRYCE EDWARDS, director of the Democracy Project, looks at the political climate in Hamilton West as the political parties prepare to campaign for support in a by-election. He writes:
Get ready for a hard-fought and intense by-election in Hamilton West, triggered by the resignation from Parliament of former Labour MP Gaurav Sharma. Both Labour and National are going to throw everything at winning this by-election. Complicating matters, there will be a number of minor parties and fringe elements – Sharma included – that might have a big impact on the result.
At this stage, the outcome is entirely unpredictable, with both Labour and National having good reasons for desperately needing to win it, and with some good reasons to expect success. But it’s likely to be a very close race, and a number of vital factors could determine which way victory goes.
The National Party is the frontrunner
National is surely seen as the frontrunner in the by-election, due to the party’s hold over the seat in 4 out of 5 preceding elections, together with the fact that the Labour Government is currently in the doldrums.
As always, Opposition parties seek to turn by-elections into referendums on the current performance of the incumbents – and at present there is a lot about the Labour Government for the public to be dissatisfied about. This was evidenced by last week’s local government elections, which have also been described as a referendum on the current government. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards puts a spotlight on Hamilton West: Here comes an unpredictable and intense by-election”
Buzz from the Beehive
The news that was keenly awaited by a slavering pack of parliamentary press gallery newshounds – the Labour caucus expulsion of the MP they had labelled “rogue” – is not recorded on the Beehive website. That’s because it is a party matter, not a matter for the executive wing of the Ardern government (and therefore not subject to Official Information Act procedures).
Gaurav Sharma was expelled after events described by Stuff as
“… a spectacular break up with the party that concluded with him accusing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of orchestrating a ‘cover up’.”
This means Sharma will now sit in Parliament as an independent MP.
But the PM said caucus had also referred the matter to Labour’s New Zealand Council, which could take further action – such as expelling him from the party entirely. Continue reading “The newshounds pounced on the expulsion of Sharma but ministers did have other news (eg about new Pacific migrant programmes)”
Labour MPs may well be determining the fate of Hamilton West MP Gaurav Sharma at a special caucus meeting, as this post is being written.
According to Stuff, the party’s MPs will enter a virtual meeting at 2.30pm on Tuesday and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was expected to speak to reporters afterward, at about 4pm.
Stuff explained that:
Sharma, the MP for Hamilton West, has repeatedly alleged he had been bullied by the party’s whips, Parliamentary Service, and the prime minister’s office in the past week.
Sharma has so far produced no substantive evidence to back up his claims of bullying. Ardern has said the claims appear to be prompted by the party working to resolve issues between himself and employees, and a “hiring freeze” that had been placed on his office.
Point of Order noted that Sharma’s bullying allegations were recorded in a social media post on Friday night. Continue reading “Labour caucus is not alone in asking for an explanation from the MP for Hamilton West”
On taking office back in 2017, Jacinda Ardern promised her government would be the most open and transparent New Zealand has seen.
In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged:
“This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”
Three years later she laid down a gauntlet for National, saying she wanted to avoid “negative fake news style” campaigns and signing up her party to Facebook’s voluntary political ad transparency tool.
But the transparency message perhaps did not did not get passed down to her back-benchers, as Point of Order’s recent experience suggests.
A question we emailed to a National MP was promptly answered.
A question we mailed to a Labour MP late in May remains unanswered. Continue reading “Labour MP may be overwhelmed with correspondence – or perhaps he wasn’t advised of the PM’s transparency pledge”