Benson-Pope distributing booklet for the over-60s

The information booklet being distributed by David Benson-Pope.
The information booklet being distributed by David Benson-Pope.
Dunedin South MP David Benson-Pope has been busy sending out 50-page information kits for the over-60s, one of several Labour MPs using a loophole in election spending laws.

Mr Benson-Pope is not Labour's candidate for the election after losing a bitter selection battle to Dunedin public relations consultant Clare Curran.

Asked yesterday why he had sent out the booklets, Mr Benson-Pope said he was still the MP for Dunedin South.

"As far as I am concerned, I am continuing to provide a service to the electors of Dunedin South. You know I am always keen to provide a good service as an MP.

"No matter what motivation people attribute to this, the booklet is a really valuable resource."

He had ordered 1500 booklets and had posted some, but others were being picked up from his office in King Edward St.

The only reference to Labour in the booklet is the email address on the cover.

There were about 3000 superannuitants on the roll in each electorate.

He had delivered the books to "key parts" of the electorate and planned to drop off more booklets in areas where superannuitants were concentrated, such as gated retirement villages and areas of retirement flats.

So far, Mr Benson-Pope has refused to reveal his plans for the future, although speculation has been he might stand as an independent MP while urging voters to give their party vote to Labour.

Nominations close next Tuesday.

The booklets, prepared by the office of Progressive Party leader and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, are taxpayer-funded, something National Party deputy leader Bill English is complaining about.

Several Labour MPs sent out the kits which use orange rather than Labour red and feature the name and photograph of the MP sending it.

One MP, Phil Goff, has printed 4000 copies for distribution, paid by Parliamentary Services.

Mr English said Labour was using a loophole and his party's MPs were not sending out any material using their parliamentary budget.

Chief electoral officer Robert Peden said there was nothing in the booklet encouraging people to vote a certain way and the focus was on constituency work rather than election candidacy.


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