City saturated with preening politicians

National Southland candidate Joseph Mooney with a non-Norwegian blue. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
National Southland candidate Joseph Mooney with a non-Norwegian blue. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
Dunedin has often felt neglected by politicians, but it cannot make that complaint this week.

In fact, the city is pretty much the centre of the political universe at the minute.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson were, separately but coincidentally, in Dunedin yesterday, and National’s Judith Collins makes her long-awaited first trip south as party leader today.

Add in Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson, who is also in town today, and that is quite a feast of politics and politicians to take in.

Apart from the weather, Ms Ardern will have had few complaints about her southern sojourn.

In 2017 her come-from-well-behind election campaign received considerable momentum from a visit to the University of Otago.

In 2020 she was afforded a similarly warm welcome - in human terms rather than climatic - with crowds on both sides of the Water of the Leith watching the Labour leader speak.

It was no surprise to see the university on Ms Ardern’s itinerary: the campus is a rich source of votes and politicians of all stripes are regular visitors.

What was moderately surprising, however, was that Ms Ardern chose the university stop-over to announce Labour’s climate change policy.

Dunedin in general and the campus in particular are a vital source of party votes for current and likely future Labour support partner the Greens, who hope to garner a lot of support from school climate strikers who have moved on to tertiary education.

The Greens were left kicking their heels and hoping there would still be someone left on the university grounds when Ms Davidson popped by later in the afternoon.

They were forewarned and professed themselves mostly delighted with Labour’s commitments, although possibly somewhat disgruntled at Labour’s choice of policy announcement for the day.

The Opportunities Party candidate Ben Peters turns the Dunedin election race on its head. PHOTO:...
The Opportunities Party candidate Ben Peters turns the Dunedin election race on its head. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
Ms Davidson did have something substantial to offer herself, though, a pitch for the Green Poverty Action Plan, a document which includes a weekly student allowance, something of much interest in student’ville.

While Ms Collins will be keen to maintain or improve the 10,300 party votes National received in Dunedin North in 2017, her visit today is focused on Taieri, a seat it very much believes is in play in 2020.

As well as a photogenic wander through a local business, Ms Collins will also be speaking at a public meeting with her party’s two local candidates, Michael Woodhouse (Dunedin) and Liam Kernaghan (Taieri).

In a coincidence almost too good to be true, Mr Robertson, a former South Dunedin resident, will also be in Taieri for a series of meetings today.

Quite why he has chosen now for a trip home is an interesting question.

Labour will stress his Dunedin roots and that Mr Robertson frequently visits his old home.

It will be keen to squash any suggestion he is campaigning in Taieri because the party is nervous about the fortunes of its candidate Ingrid Leary in the seat.

The plains will be like a chase scene in a cartoon, as the red entourage and the blue motorcade travel hither and yon seeking the elusive undecided voter.

Sketch time

National Southland candidate Joseph Mooney visited Queenstown Taxis recently and met Stella, the owner’s eclectus parrot.

The bright red plumage is not party colours though ... maybe Mr Mooney should have sought out a Norwegian blue parrot to pose with?

Creative vandalism

One of the disappointing aspects of election campaigns is the vandalism often meted out to candidate signs.

That said, whoever decided to invert this poster of The Opportunities Party Dunedin candidate Ben Peters does get some credit for creativity.

For the last two weeks of the election campaign, Southern Say will run Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to keep you up to date with the southern campaign trail.

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