The claws are out in Ohariu

A tight electorate race is starting to get Ohariu candidates hot under the collar, with insults and snipes flying in an online debate.

Four candidates for the Wellington seat - current Ohariu MP Peter Dunne for UnitedFuture, Labour's Charles Chauvel, Katrina Shanks for National and Gareth Hughes for the Greens - took questions from online readers in's live chat today.

Ohariu is Wellington's only marginal seat, with Mr Dunne retaining it by just 1006 votes over Mr Chauvel in 2008.

Mr Chauvel led the way in barb-trading in today's chat, accusing Mrs Shanks of using her status as a mother to pull votes.

"We all have families Katrina - it's just that some of us don't flaunt the fact as a vote-getter," he said.

Mr Dunne and Mr Chauvel - who are close front-runners to win the seat - took potshots at one another throughout the chat.

Mr Dunne told readers to ponder how effective Mr Chauvel could be if he was in opposition.

In retort, Mr Chauvel said Labour would one day be in government again.

"I will be in its cabinet. You've never been in cabinet. I'd say that would mean pretty effective advocacy for an electorate that you've simply taken for granted now for 27 long years."

He also called Mr Dunne "Ayn Rand with hair".

Ayn Rand was a novelist and philosopher who espoused laissez-faire capitalism.

Even Don Brash - who was not a chat participant - came in for criticism from Mr Chauvel in response to a question about who candidates would least like to be stuck on a desert island with, out of Phil Goff, Hone Harawira, John Key and Don Brash.

He initially accused Dr Brash of nymphomania - hypersexuality in women - but later corrected it to satyrism, the male version.

Mr Hughes also kicked Dr Brash off the island.

"Hone could tell great entertaining stories, Phil has handyman skills from his lifestyle block and Key would be very useful at smiling and waving if rescue boats or aircraft come near."

Close polling between Mr Dunne and Mr Chauvel in the lead-up to the election was reflected in two polls readers were able to vote in as the chat unfolded.

The lead swung between the two men in both polls, with Mr Dunne just edging out Mr Chauvel in both.

The first poll soon after the chat started finished with Mr Dunne on 40 per cent and Mr Chauvel on 37 per cent, while the second poll towards the end of the chat had Mr Dunne on 40 per cent again and Mr Chauvel on 38 per cent.

About 1000 people participated in the chat.

Many of the questions from participants focused on transport issues, especially public transport and roading.
All candidates except for Mr Hughes said they supported building Transmission Gully.

However, Mr Chauvel said it needed to "not [be] at the expense of continuing to invest in decent public transport".

He would push for a better park-and-ride system, more regular peak hour services and better forward planning for all forms of non-car transport.

Mrs Shanks said National was investing more money in rail and public transport, while Mr Hughes said the billions of dollars being spent on motorways would be better put toward a light rail network for the region, along with more cycling and walking options.

Mr Dunne said train and bus services in the electorate were improving but services needed to be better integrated.

"I will continue working with the Regional Council and the government on this."

To view a replay of the live chat, click here.

For full coverage of the election click here.

The Dominion Post