ACT deputy leader Heather Roy, has been named as ACT candidate for the key seat of Wellington Central in 2008.
In a speech to last night’s candidate launch at the Museum Hotel, former ACT leader and one time Wellington central MP, Richard Prebble gave his views on Wellington Central and it’s significance for 2008.
Wellington Central could pick the next government.
It is a statistical fact that Wellington – the country’s smartest electorate – is politically astute, and has been willing to switch its vote to lead the country.
When I put my name in for Wellington Central, ACT was at one percent. In the first opinion poll I was the fourth-ranked candidate. I won because the electorate realised that, by electing me, it would be gaining MMP and electing another Party into Parliament. Even though I gained more votes when I lost than when I first won the seat, the electorate realised ACT was going to win and I was going to be in Parliament whether I won or lost the seat.
Wellington Central voters can have an even bigger impact on this election. While many media commentators think it a foregone conclusion that National will win the next election, they’re forgetting that this is MMP.
No party since the 1951 waterfront election has won 50 percent and, despite the current polls, National will not get the 50 percent to govern alone.
According to latest polls, Labour could form a government even with a huge swing to National. Indeed, we could have the electorate move to the Right and the Government move to the Left with a Labour/Green/Maori Party government. If the Maori party wins all seven Maori seats and few list seats, a likely result will be an overhang as to get proportionality Parliament will have more than 120 seats.
Winning Wellington Central could easily be the balance of power. When Wellington Central activists suggested I stand for this seat I said: “But I’m the man who drove through the civil service reforms. Civil servants will never vote for ACT“. The activists said “Not so, the civil servants know how bad the waste is.”
Heather Roy has been a critic of the extraordinary growth in bureaucracy, and the civil servants know she’s right – 20,000 extra employees and no increase in service. That’s not my view; that’s the result of a study by the Treasury.
There’s another reason Wellington needs Heather Roy. Let me be as polite as I can be about Marian Hobbs, but she wasn’t dropped from the Cabinet because of her effectiveness.
Labour’s nominee has likely been selected because of his support of the Left faction, rather than their ability to represent this electorate. It’s ironic, but it is very challenging representing the capital.
You would think it would be easy – most Ministers live here; politics is this city’s business. Representing the capital should be a piece of cake. The reality is, however, that it’s the opposite. It’s easier to be the MP for the West Coast; there, the MP is the only MP for 400 kilometres. He’s the only representative for the region and his views are accorded real weight – not just by the voters, but also by Wellington.
In the capital, the local MP is competing for attention from the whole of Parliament. Ministers think that, because the live here, they know the issues. They don’t, but they THINK they do.
The voters also often by-pass the local MP and go directly to departments. The result is that decisions are made about Wellington by central government that Ministers would never consider making if it were Auckland or Southland.
To be heard and effective, the MP for Wellington Central has to be much better than your average MP.
Heather Roy is well qualified. She was ranked number two for very good reasons. ACT was acknowledged as having – man for man, woman for woman – the best caucus, and that Party recognised her as the most effective.
Heather Roy is a Wellington Central girl.
I have no doubt she will be the most talented of all the candidates and I know she is standing to win.