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St Anne’s Hall fills for electorate hopefuls

Nov 11th, 2011 | By | Category: Latest News, News

ECONOMY, jobs, child welfare, smear campaigns, abortion and the Basin Reserve flyover.

All those issues and more were there when 150 Newtown residents drilled seven of their Rongotai candidates for answers.

Last night Russel Norman (Greens), Chris Finlayson (National), Don Richards (Independent), Brent Pierson (NZ First), Annette King (Labour), Bruce Welsh (Conservatives) and Aroha Rickus (Maori Party) turned out to St Anne’s Parish Hall in Newtown to vie for votes.

Each candidate was given five minutes to talk about themselves, their party (when applicable) and their policies, after which questions were taken from the floor.

Russel Norman was the first candidate to take the microphone, and spent his five minutes outlining the Green’s key election policies  – making NZ’s rivers clean enough to swim in again, bringing 100,000 children out of poverty and creating thousands of new “green jobs”.

National Cabinet Minister Chris Finlayson (left) was second to take the stand and followed the cleaner rivers theme by outlining National’s new irrigation investment policy.

He then touched on his time as Treaty negotiations minister and refered to a recent flyer drop smear campaign in the Rongotai electorate, which accused him of abusing his position by wasting taxpayer money on lengthy court negotiations.

“As you know, I have a good relationship with Maori,” he said.

Aside from NZ First’s Brent Pierson, Mr Finlayson was the biggest target of hecklers in the audience.

Mr Finlayson finally lost his cool after one audience member (below)  responded to his every point by yelling “rubbish!” 

“You’ve got to say something more than just ‘rubbish!’ Say something constructive,” he said.

Some of the newer parties opted for the “try something new” approach when appealing for votes.

“Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result,” said Bruce Welsh, the Conservatives candidate.

One passionate resident used his allocated question to bring up Mr Finlayson’s smear campaign again.

He demanded that the party responsible for the leaflet drop be held to account and wanted to know which beaches he would no longer be able to fish at (the flyer stated that due to Mr Finlayson’s Treaty negotiations, some beaches are no longer accessible to non-Maori).

“None,” replied Mr Finlayson. “It was rubbish.”

Another lone campaigner used his question to ask controversially about abortion, and the safety of a post conception abortion pill introduced under Annette King’s term as health minister.

Safe, legal abortions ought to be available in New Zealand, came Ms King’s stern reply to a rapturous audience.

However, NZ First’s Brent Pierson caused outrage when he suggested that those who did not want to get pregnant should not have kids, adding that he did not personally agree with abortion, and suggested that adoption is a more beneficial solution.

Mr Finlayson rubbished the question, saying that it was not a political issue and should never have been raised.

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