Big lesson in lost opportunity

14/10/2013

By Duncan Garner

The warning and lesson out of the Auckland local body elections is this: The right to need to organise themselves, get in behind a decent candidate and run a strong campaign against Len Brown in 2016.

Why were they so hopeless?

They simply missed a gift at this year’s elections. Len Brown is popular but only to a point. He is beatable. And the weekend’s results prove that.

He over 162,000 votes. Sure, that’s a mandate, but it’s not as good as I thought given his high-profile events involving Ministers and the Prime Minister – and involving spending your money on housing and transport initiatives.

Mr No-Name, come from no-where, John Palino got an astonishing 107,000 votes.

It’s a remarkable result for Palino in my view – who ran a largely lacklustre and low-profile campaign. He wanted to build a second city or something like that. What did that really mean?

Compared to Len Brown he had little profile, fewer billboards and even fewer events to be seen at. He was an outsider and he has done well as a result.

But imagine if the right had put up a decent, high profile, articulate candidate who made sense and whom we believed? I reckon Brown would have been in some trouble. About the same numbers of people who voted for Brown voted against him. He’s certainly vulnerable and I reckons he knows it.

Good on him for saying he’s going to see the Reserve Bank Governor over Loan to Value Ratios, but good luck – he’ll be heard, but little will change. This Governor is his own man.

Also – why didn’t Brown make this noise months ago when it was suggested? Why didn’t he go into bat for the first home owners back then? Was he asleep? The horse has bolted, I reckon.

But Brown does have a plan in Auckland. And well done to him for that. It’s a bold, visionary and expensive plan. That’s the price of infrastructure, I suppose.

But at least he has a plan. Too many Auckland Mayors have had no plan and no vision.

Seriously, though, all that to one side: Local body elections need to change. 34% voter turnout in Auckland is actually offensive to democracy. We need a sense of an event. Like the general election. We need it to occur on one day.

Postal voting is out-dated. It’s over. We need online and text voting and booths. Create an event. Create some excitement.

These 2013 local body elections were like a long slow funeral - held over weeks - when no one really knew when the last song was being played. Get rid of it. Create an event. Get people involved.

And my final message to the right? Get Cameron Brewer locked in as your mayoral candidate in 2016 – get teams around him – create some noise and some excitement – and give people a real choice.

Because in 2013 you gave up and that’s what the history books will show.

source: data archive