Every vote counts, says Naylor-backing Bennett
Palmerston North's National candidate Jono Naylor is taking advice from the MP with the narrowest majority in the country.
Social Development and Local Government Minister Paula Bennett was in the city yesterday helping the mayor with his campaign.
Picking "an absolute scrap" in a close race between Naylor and incumbent Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway in September's general election, Bennett wanted to remind electors that every vote counts. She holds Waitakere by nine votes.
"If nine people had not got out to vote that day, I would not be the MP for Waitakere."
Bennett said the Department of Internal Affairs was investigating ways to boost voter turnout above an average 47 per cent for councils and 74 per cent for central government.
"But it comes down to people giving enough of a damn."
Bennett and Naylor campaigning together signalled some of the clashes between local government and the National-led Government of last year had been put behind them.
Under Naylor's leadership, the city council fired off some strongly worded submissions about proposed changes to the Local Government Act and Resource Management Act that the council said were disrespectful and wrongly identified local government as "the problem".
Bennett said her appointment as Local Government Minister was about relationship building, about having a "stroppy" advocate for local government on the front benches. She said the fact Naylor had taken a couple of "swipes" at the Government made him a strong advocate, "and I hope he will continue that in caucus".
Naylor said local government had won its point, that it wanted to engage with the Government earlier, rather than having reforms imposed on it, and the relationship was healthy. An understanding of each other's roles and powers was critical to making New Zealand better.
Both said the key issues this election were the economy, jobs and decent incomes.
Investment in defence, research and development were seen as critical for achieving those outcomes in Palmerston North, Naylor said.
Those who thought National had "neglected" Palmerston North in the past were driving a different agenda, he said.