Dunedin’s political doldrums

In both Dunedin North and Dunedin South Labour candidates are expected to stroll to victory with minimum attention. Who cares? Dunedin electorate votes count for little because there is no chance of affecting the outcome. This is common in many other safe seats around the country.

In Dunedin North Pete Hodgson is retiring, leaving a 7,000 vote majority for his replacement to play with. Labour only lost the electorate once (1975-78) since 1928.

Is it going to be the same old boring campaign this year? Will anyone care who their new MP is?

There are actually four Dunedin North MPs in parliament, as well as Hodgson there are three list MPs that contested the last election – Woodhouse (National), Turei (Greens), and Calvert (Act). So Dunedin should be overwhelmed by influence. Not.

How often do we hear about what they are doing for the city? How often are we asked how we want to be represented? Even if they are slaving away for us in silence, and not for their parties, that’s poor communication. Today Hodgson had a letter published in the Otago Daily Times, but that was just in response to a critical ODT editorial.

If Labour keep the seat in November as expected, what will that give the city? Nothing more than someone working for the No party in opposition?

Do voters deserve more? If they want to choose more.

Under MMP it would be easy for electorates to take the initiative off the parties. All it would take is for them to decide, similar to Epsom, that they wanted their votes to count for much more than virtually nothing. Dunedin electorates could become influential, even pivotal, and Dunedin voices could be much more effective in parliament. All the people need to do is choose to be smart with their vote.