Bennett wins back Waitakere

ANDREA VANCE AND JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 17:40 16/12/2011
tdn paula
ANDY JACKSON
ON TOP: Paula Bennett claimed the traditionally Labour seat in 2008 from Lynne Pillay, who held it for two terms.

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Paula Bennett's office has confirmed she has won her back her Waitakere seat from Labour's Carmel Sepuloni by nine votes.

Sepuloni won the West Auckland seat at the weekend by a majority of just 11 - after the special votes were counted.

But a judicial review today has Bennett in front.

The Electoral Commission said they knew nothing of reports and would not be releasing the result until Monday.

Sepuloni would not comment until a press conference at her Henderson home later today.

The results mean Sepuloni is out of parliament and list MP Raymond Huo - who farewelled caucus colleagues on Tuesday - is back in.

It does not change the make-up of parliament - National has 59 seats - plus two from support parties - giving them a majority of one.

After the special votes were counted at the weekend, Sepuloni said Waitakere voters had given the Crown minister her marching orders in response to ''constant beneficiary bashing''.

Sepuloni said the result was a clear message of discontent at Bennett and the hard-line welfare policies she is pushing.

''I don't think Paula Bennett has been good for Waitakere,'' she said.

''At the end of the day, the voters have spoken. And despite the fact it is close, it just goes to show that there are 11 more people that think she wasn't [good].

''West Auckland has quite a high number of sole-parent households... One of the highest in the country in terms of electorate.

''And I know a lot of sole-parents in west Auckland have not been happy with things like the cuts to the training incentive allowance and the constant beneficiary bashing that has come from the National government, including the Minister of Social Development.

''Those things really prompt people to get out and vote. If they really don't like something, they are going to get out and vote against it.''

Sepuloni also said she was not ''concerned'' by National's plans to seek a recount in the hotly-contested electorate.

Sepuloni entered Parliament in 2008 via Labour's list.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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