By-election in Clutha-Southland

What are the chances of a by-election in the Clutha-Southland electorate?

It has been  reported that 24 year old MP Todd Barclay, or something related to him in his electorate, is subject to a police inquiry. See Police involved in MP complaint.

Two of Barclay’s staff members have resigned, as has his electorate chairman who said his position was ‘untenable’.

There has been talk of a secret recording being made, but (and this is only online speculation) there are suggestions the problem could potentially be more serious.

There have been posts about this at Kiwiblog – More weirdness in Clutha-Southland – and The Standard – Wee Todd Barclay may have a wee problem with discussions about possibilities in comments.

National have already had electorate problems this term, at the other end of the country in Northland. MP Mike Sabin mysteriously resigned not long after the 2014 election, and the damage from that and the skilled political opportunism of Winston Peters meant an embarrassing electorate loss for National, and the loss of a crucial seat in Parliament.

National can ill afford to lose another electorate and another vote in Parliament.

What are the chances of a by-election in Clutha Southland? I don’t know, it’s too soon to tell.

Could National lose the seat in a by-election? I doubt it, it currently has one of the biggest National majorities in the country. And Winston Peters is tied to his electorate at the opposite end of the country.

Comparing the two electorate party vote results from 2014:


Barclay got a similar electorate vote (63.27%) to the party vote.

Labour’s candidate Liz Craig bettered her party result with 19.62% but it’s hard to see a Labour candidate getting close in a by-election. In the past two elections they haven’t stood a local candidate. Craig is an epidemiologist from Dunedin (Otago University child health academic). And  in 2011 Labour’s candidate was Dunedin chiropractor Tat Loo (aka Colonial Viper).

NZ First didn’t stand a candidate in either electorate in 2014.

After Peters won Northland in the by-election last year Southlander Ria Bond entered parliament as NZ First’s next list candidate. But she hasn’t got anything like Peters’ experience or profile, and her background in the hairdressing industry is unlikely to gel in a largely rural electorate.

Bond didn’t stand in an electorate in 2014 so presumably has scant campaigning experience.

So it looks unlikely that National could lose Clutha-Southland in a by-election.

But they could lose a lot of votes and be embarrassed, not just be a reduced winning margin but by the bad publicity another electorate MP in trouble would give them.

Currently John Key and Bill English (who had been Clutha-Southland MP until going list only in 2014) are publicly standing by Barclay.

But they and National can’t risk botching another MP scandal. The Clutha-Southland electorate is probably not a serious threat for them, but the overall party vote and their hold on government could take a serious hit.

A young and inexperienced MP in a super safe seat could potentially end the Key Government’s tenure.

Whatever the police are investigating and whether the police lay charges or not may determine whether there is a by-election in Clutha-Southland.

How National are seen to handle it may significantly influence the outcome of the next election.

Team Key and English are one of National’s  main strengths. Hugging another political corpse would not be a good look. They must have checked out the risks that Barclay poses, it would be politically stupid not to have.

Giving an impression of sweeping things under the carpet will be a bad look.

The Clutha-Southland may not be at risk for National, but Government could be.


Ria Bond – Maiden Statement

New NZ First MP Ria Bond gave her maiden statement in Parliament today. An excerpt:

I wish to share with you my journey that I have travelled to be here. I was three years old when I was first removed from my family, and put into a foster home. I think on count from memory, I spent five times (years?) of my childhood life in a foster home.

That experience for me as a child was traumatic. That experience for me as a child without being explained what was happening by the social services was something that I wish no other child would have to go through.

Whilst the world was shocked with the movie Once Were Warriors, I was living it.

From out of that rose strength.

It rose courage.

It gave me character. At times it caused me tears, but I have to say it also gave me stubbornness.

You see, from that I built a dream, and that dream was to one day stand in this house as a member of Parliament, and look at how we can protect the children of the future.

That is something that is very dear to me, having grown up the life that I grew through.

I love my parents. I understand and forgave them that they did not have the skills to be prepared as parents.

Since they’ve had their mokopunas they have grown, and I’m very proud of the love that they share for us now.

They should be very proud of Ria today.

It’s worth listening to all of her speech.

Full transcript:

Maiden Statements

Speech – RIA BOND (NZ First)

RIA BOND (NZ First): Kia ora, Mr Speaker.

I am both honoured and humbled to finally stand in this House today to deliver my maiden speech. Firstly, I wish to congratulate the New Zealand First Party and our leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, with his landslide victory and winning the Northland seat. The party ran a flawless campaign with a simple message: send them a message. I believe that message has been delivered. We now have 12 MPs in the House.

I am proud to work with such a strong, balanced team that has high energy levels, experience, and talent in each of our fields of previous employment backgrounds that we each bring forward. I wish to share with you my journey that I have travelled to be here.

I was 3 years old when I was first removed from my family and put into a foster home. I think, on count from memory, I spent five times of my childhood life in a foster home. That experience for me as a child was traumatic. That experience for me as a child, without it being explained what was happening by the social services, was something that I wish no other child should ever have to go through.

Although the world was shocked by the movie Once Were Warriors, I was living it. From out of that rose strength, rose courage. It gave me character. At times it caused me tears. But I have to say that it also gave me stubbornness.

You see, from that I built a dream, and that dream was to one day stand in this House as a member of Parliament and look at how we can protect the children of the future.

That is something that is very dear to me, having grown up in the life that I grew through. I love my parents. I understand and forgave them that they did not have the skills needed to be prepared as parents. Since they have had their mokopunas they have grown. I am very proud of the love that they share for us now.

So the message that I want to share with other children is that if you have a dream, then you go after that dream. You do not let anybody stand in your way. You grab it with both hands and you surround yourself with people who can help you to achieve your dream.

They can be your teachers or your role models in the industries that you may wish to belong to in the future. So I am very proud that today that dream has come true for me. I truly recognise as I stand here in this House that those of us who move within it are not more important than the people we are here to represent—that is, the people of Aotearoa.

If I ever find that I abandon this belief, then I will have the graciousness to leave. I am half Māori and half Scottish. I have grown up equally in both worlds. My father is Hōterini Ariki Hōterini, son of who we used to call Grandad, my grandmother being Mātekina Hiriroa. In my family, when you are born on the land you received the name “Hoterene”. If you are not, then you receive the name “Shortland”.

My grandparents were farmers. Our land, Mataparoa,

It has been in our whānau for hundreds of years in the valley of Mōtatau. My uncles and aunties have all worked hard on the family farm, as Grandad was a recruiter for the army, and over the years my nana was often left at home to look after the farm.

Over the years, I am told, my grandfather was a proud, hard-working man who worked his children hard. I spent many holidays up on the farm. There was no electricity and no running water. You were taught to be self-sufficient. I am no stranger to hard work.

Mōtatau was rather unique, as over the years we have had eight whānau members stand as candidates, and six have entered this House as members of Parliament. This in itself is truly unique. I am very fortunate to have had some whānau who were great leaders, who inspired me throughout my life to make a difference.

As I stand here today I am surrounded by my whānau: Pita Paraone and Peeni Henare. My hope is that our children will one day aspire to follow in our footsteps. My Scottish ancestors travelled over on the boat from Scotland to Southland in 1834. My mother, Margaret Browne, daughter to Leslie McCreath and Iris McCreath, was a stay at home mother in my early years.

My mother’s family were also hard workers and believed firmly in earning their wages by manual hard work. When I was younger I used to travel on the Southerner from Christchurch to Invercargill to visit my relations. That service is still missed by the Southland public today.

I was born and bred in Palmerston North. I have four siblings. I am the youngest daughter. I attended Highbury Primary School. My teacher at the time, Miss O’Connor, recognised something in me back then and bet a year of her wages that one day I would be a lawyer or a politician.

Well, here I am. I hope you are still here, Miss O’Connor, to see that your prediction has come true.

We moved to Christchurch to the suburb of Papanui. I attended Casebrook Intermediate School. It was at this age that I found myself getting into a little bit of trouble. I hung with the cool crowd, was in a popular group, and made some poor decisions.

At the age of 14 we packed up and moved to Invercargill, where my grandfather Leslie McCreath, a fourth-generation Southlander, gloated that he was a great-grandson of Thomas Crapper, who invented the flush toilet. I attended Southland Girls High School. Non scholae sed vitae discimus—not for school but for life we are learning. This motto is as relevant to me today as it was all those years ago.

This school softened my hardened exterior, ironed out the kinks, gave me a fantastic education, and taught me how to be a lady. I found role models within the school who helped me change my ways and outlook on life—for the better.

My father did not believe hairdressing to be a career option for me. Instead, he had designs to put me in the navy, as our whānau were from the forces. So for 3 years I hid the fact that I was studying hairdressing while at school, at the Southern Institute of Technology.

It was not until I was 20 years old and the cake at my engagement party had a pair of scissors on it that it dawned on Dad that I had not listened to him. Hairdressing has been my chosen profession. It has been the profession that has helped me grow. It has been the profession that has taught me many of life’s skills that money just cannot buy.

I am really proud that I am a hairdresser and I am proud that other young hairdressers look up to me for inspiration so that if they have a dream, they too know that they can be very successful in achieving it.

I have some inspirational females in the hairdressing industry who helped me form my pathway on my journey to reaching here in the House. My interest in politics started at the age of 7.

I used to sit on the floor of my family home listening to the radiogram, to the booming voice of Sir Robert Muldoon with his infectious laugh and, to most children, a pretty scary-sounding voice, but not to me. I never knew what the problems were at the age of 7; all I knew was that I liked his strength and his character from his voice and from watching him on the news.

I wish to acknowledge my Invercargill electorate committee: Robyn, Marilyn, Lindsey Taylor, Eleanor Lawrence, Sharon Heads, Shirley Stenton, Steven Loscombe, Susan Liddy, New Zealand First Vice-President Murray Dawdrey—your absolute support and commitment to me over the last 5 years have gone beyond my expectations. I will never forget it. I am a single mother with two children, Johnathan and Maddison.

I work hard so my children can see that no matter how old you are in life, if you set your mind to achieve a goal, then you can achieve it.

I wish to thank my children’s father, Daniel Bond, for the support he has given me for 21 years. I will always remember you for that, and I hope to continue to receive your support for the next 20 or so years.

I am proud to be a New Zealand First list MP for Invercargill, where I will be devoting myself to advancing the concerns of Southlanders, from our elderly to our young, helping to improve the lives of Southlanders and also to ensure that there are opportunities of employment, growth in business, and growth in resources.

Opportunities will be looked at seriously by working closely in harmony with our council, stakeholders, and businesses so that Invercargill is not forgotten about here in Wellington.

It is life lessons that I have learnt from, the things that I have seen growing up that I wish no child would ever have to witness, for what did once shock the world in Once Were Warriors made me understand that from bad comes good. Family violence is not acceptable. It is not meant to become the norm in some families.

It has been because of these lessons that I stand here today as a survivor of family violence and proud that I have reached my dream to become a member of Parliament for New Zealand First. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Asentati Lote-Taylor to come back as NZ First’s new list MP?

If Winston Peters wins the Northland by-election he will become an electorate MP. Under our MMP rules he then has the option to resign as a list MP, which he would be expected to do. This means that NZ First can get a new MP into Parliament to restore their election result dictated quota.

It is often claimed that the new MP would be Ria Bond from Invercargill as she is next on the NZ First list. She would certainly get the option to take up a seat in Parliament.

But she could either be genuinely unwilling, or she could be pressured to be unwilling to allow someone else to claim the seat.

And Peters has said as much on The Nation last weekend – “We have not chosen the next candidate”.

Gower: Well, tell the people of Northland, because if you win this seat, Ria Bond comes in on the list, doesn’t she?

Peters: No, no. We have not chosen the next candidate in the context. The rule is the next available candidate, so please don’t forecast what we haven’t worked out ourselves.

So Peters is saying “we” will work out/choose who”the next available candidate” is from the NZ First list.

12 Ria Bond
13 Mataroa Paroro
14 Romuald Rudzki
15 Jon Reeves
16 Asenati Lole- Taylor
17 Brent Catchpole
18 George Abraham
19 Ray Dolman
20 Hugh Barr
21 Anne Degia Pala
22 Steve Campbell
23 Edwin Perry
24 Bill Gudgeon
25 Brent Pierson

It wouldn’t be the first time a list has been manipulated like this. In 2008 after Russel Norman was chosen by the Green as new co-leader he was declared elected to parliament when Nandor Tanczos resigned after the two next on the list, Mike Ward and Catherine Delahunty ‘agreed to stand aside’.

So it could be any of the list candidates who replaces Peters as a list MP.

If any of them didn’t follow a Peters directive to stand aside to clear the way for who ‘we’ choose they would be likely to have a difficult time in the NZ First caucus.

But it’s not likely to be Asenati Lote-Taylor as it looked like she was demoted out of harms way down the list. Her biggest claim to fame while she was in Parliament last term was not being able to tell her Twitter account apart from a spoof account (I often had to check carefully to see whether it was the MP tweeting or not).

Here is the official procedure from the Electoral Commission:

Filling a vacancy in a list seat

When a vacancy arises in the seat of a list Member of Parliament, the vacancy is filled by the Electoral Commission declaring elected the next available member on the party’s list who remains a member of the party and is willing to be elected.

The process in detail is as follows. When a vacancy arises in the seat of a list Member of Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Representatives publishes a notice of the vacancy in the New Zealand Gazette.

The Governor-General then issues a direction to the Electoral Commission to fill the vacancy.

The Electoral Commission determines who is next on the party list and then finds out from the party secretary of the party whether the person next on the party list remains a financial member of the party.

If advised by the party secretary that the next person on the list is a financial member of the party, the Electoral Commission then asks that person if they are willing to be a member of Parliament. If they reply that they are, the Electoral Commission then elects them by declaring them elected in a notice published in the New Zealand Gazette.  If they are not willing to be a member of Parliament, the Electoral Commission repeats the process for the next person on the list. If there is no person on the list willing to be a member of Parliament then the seat remains unfilled.

So if the next on the list is unwilling by choice or coercion to be a member of Parliament the next on the list is offered the vacancy until a willing replacement is found.