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Posters, politics & prejudice in Wellington

Nov 6th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

By Alexandra Johnson & Charlotte Hilling

STEPHEN Franks and Grant Robertson may disagree on most things – but the Wellington Central candidates do agree that this campaign has been fraught with controversy and dishonesty.

“This is the worst local campaign so far,” says National candidate Stephen Franks. “There are constant allegations that I’m anti-gay.”

National supporters have been caught ripping down posters, produced by the “Vote With Both Eyes Open” group, that accuse him of being anti-gay and against single mothers.

The posters are “an integral part of a despicable campaign designed to fit in with Labour’s nationwide strategy of innuendo and smear”, says Mr Franks on his website.

Mr Franks says he has been deliberately misrepresented. 

But Mr Robertson believes Mr Franks says things that make him a target.

“What Stephen Franks has been saying – that he loves his dog but shouldn’t be able to marry it and things like that  – he’s accused me of picking that up, but what he doesn’t realise is that that is offensive to a lot of people.”

Mr Robertson says: “Of the three campaigns I’ve been involved in, this has been the dirtiest.”

He adds that the central Wellington battle in 1996 between Alick Shaw (then Labour) and Richard Prebble (Act) was worse.

Mr Robertson says an election is a contest of ideals and values so controversy is likely to come up.

But Mr Franks says there has been constant and deliberate misrepresentation of a question he put to a witness during a hearing on the civil union bill, a bill later he voted against.

“If I am accused of being anti-gay, someone should ask me what my attitude to gay blood donors or gay adoption is – and yet I’ve never been asked.”

And on that, Mr Franks says he is more liberal than most: “I’m sure some gay couples make superb parents.”

Green Party candidate Sue Kedgley does not think it has been a particularly dirty race.

“It’s been quite good-humoured and it’s been pretty respectful, there has been no tit-for-tat politicking,” she says.

She describes Mr Franks’ request that the parties have 24-hour surveillance on their billboards as “loopy and over the top”.

Since Mr Franks has been a free-speech advocate, Ms Kedgley points to a “certain irony” in Mr Franks’ volunteers pulling down posters that portray him negatively.

But, she adds: “If they are unauthorised, technically you can justify pulling them down.”


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  1. Congratulations on a fair and succinct report

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