Party to deliver Dunedin’s balance of power

Everyone is vying for Winston Peters’ attention as National, Labour and sundry parties woo the man with the balance of power. Dunedin hates it when other people get all the attention. David Loughrey explains how that could change.

Nothing nudges our resentment levels in Dunedin more than those unfortunate moments when someone else is in the spotlight.

But our natural pre-eminence in the scheme of things has been continually undermined in the long, rather dull weeks since the election by a constant media focus on Winston Peters.

It’s been Winston Peters this and Winston Peters that, and that limits the attention people have to spare for albatrosses and mortality in newborn sea leopards and delayed cycleways, the sort of Dunedin issues the nation should be concentrating on.

But there is something we could do as a city that could turn that around.

Mr Peters’ triennial trick is to gain a certain number of votes for his New Zealand First party, this year something like 162,988, give or take a few here or there.

That gave him something like 7.5% or so in the preliminary count, and the balance of power, a concept powerful enough for the minor party’s leader to be spoken of in terms of vice- or joint-prime minister.

That’s a powerful concept, and one that could be hijacked and subverted to our own purposes.

Our plan is to develop what we are calling the Dunedin Party, a local voting block that could eclipse the likes of Winston Peters and his chums, and deliver to Dunedin the sort of attention we so very surely deserve.

The numbers work like this: combining the total eligible voting population of Dunedin North and Dunedin South gives a figure of 105,840 potential voters.

The city would clearly have to add a sort of coalition partner, if you will, to make up the numbers.

The choices, taken from electorates that rub suggestively against the quivering flanks of our boundaries include Clutha/Southland, which would add 54,930 votes to take us to 160,770, or Waitaki, which would add 55,140 and take us to 160,980.

That is about all we would need, as New Zealand First’s vote would drop because everyone would vote for the Dunedin Party.

That would lose Mr Peters about 4000 votes across Dunedin North and South alone, and get easily us across the line.

But which nearby electorate should we include?

Should we include Clutha/Southland in our voting bloc?


Clutha/Southland just don’t get us.

Clutha/Southland voted for Todd Barclay, and probably would have done so again if he hadn’t been removed.

Clutha/Southland would start asking for things like fertiliser and fencing products once we got the balance of power, and that would be annoying.

So no.

Waitaki is a more appealing partner.

Yes, it includes Oamaru, which has Steampunk, and no, that is not cool.

However they have a sort of guileless enthusiasm and are always eager to please, and would ask for little more than trinkets they could turn into Steampunk objects if we gained the balance of power.

The key to making the most of the magical balance would be to ruthlessly exploit it, not for the good of the country, but for the good of Dunedin.

Here are the things we would demand:

That the Government re-create the Colossus of Rhodes at Port Chalmers, or even better, Taiaroa Head.

Port Otago reaped a massive $38.7million profit in the past financial year, but despite constant calls for a colossus, the port has done nothing.

Once the Dunedin Party has the balance of power, we could use it to leverage money from taxpayers to get us a really, really big colossus.

The Government this week announced a fiscal surplus of $4.1billion.

Calls in the past have been for the colossus to be built straddling the dock from the Beach St wharf to the container terminal, but with that sort of money it could have one foot on Taiaroa Head, the other at Aramoana and tower at least a kilometre into the sky.

Imagine its value as a tourism asset.

That would surely make Dunedin one of the world’s great small cities.

That the Apra Silver Scroll Awards be held in Dunedin every year.

Despite a certain amount of dancing and showing off exhibited by the classes that attend these awards —  both things Dunedin is very uncomfortable with — they distract us for a few hours and bring an economic benefit.

But best of all, when the awards are on, every media outlet in the country comes to shine a light on the wondrous city of Dunedin, one of the world’s great small cities.

That weather reports about Dunedin are more accurate.

It has long absolutely infuriated Dunedin residents that weather forecasts for the city are all wrong.

Once the balance of power is attained, the Government’s broadcasting arm, TV One, could be forced to begin the weather with what it was actually like in Dunedin the day before, along with a lengthy, cringing and grovelling apology from the weather person.

That Mt Taranaki be moved to Dunedin.

Mt Taranaki is quite a good mountain, and would look excellent next to the harbour, perhaps relocated to somewhere like Port Chalmers.

Perhaps the Beehive could be moved to the Otago Peninsula and part of the West Coast could replace St Kilda Beach.

These are all good ideas that could go out for public consultation once we have the balance of power.

That Waitaki gets some trinkets it could turn into Steampunk objects.

You have to repay your supporters.


What about Middlemarch, the famous gossipy Mary Anne Evans sort of place?

Which Rhodes? We will not be happy with a Colossus of Sir Heaton of Akaroa, who farmed 'The Levels', from which Jaime Mac rustled some sheep, ken.

The now Couther Southland know that Lucerne is Alfalfa, not some place in Switzerland.

The City song: 'Lights of Old Dunedin Town' by Pioneer Pog n Scroggin, can be 'Northern Lights of Aberdeen', when we need to impress visiting Scots.

Here is the standard TV weather apology:

'For the wonderful, astute, canny viewers south of the Waitaki, we're sorry. We're so effin sorry, Uncle Albert'.