'Dirty tricks' played on billboard

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
Altered Labour billboard
MARK TAYLOR/ Fairfax NZ
ALTERED: Hamilton West candidate Sue Moroney’s recycled billboard was altered and linked to the Prime Minister.

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An old Labour Party web address has been given a new lease of life on a Hamilton election billboard with a direct link to the Prime Minister's Facebook page.

Hamilton West candidate Sue Moroney became the unwitting champion for the National Party when the recycled election sign she erected last Friday was altered and tied to the PM's personal account.

Labour used the web address www.labour08.co.nz during the 2008 election campaign and Moroney had it obscured with masking tape for the run to the September 20 general election.

A few days later, the tape was removed from the sign, the domain registered and linked to Key's Facebook page that showed pictures of last week's meeting with US President Barack Obama.

"It would take some effort to remove it," Moroney said of the tape used to mask the domain name.

Unaware of the shenanigans going on behind her back, Moroney said the action was a push by political opponents to "undermine" her election campaign.

"That shows us exactly who is responsible," said Moroney. "That's very revealing because I think that is very damaging for the National Party - for it be revealed as their stunt that they have pulled."

Waikato Times photographer Mark Taylor was at the Melville address when Moroney and her husband Shane Vugler erected the signs.

Another photo of the same billboard was doing the rounds on social media which showed the web address but Moroney said it was a "dirty trick" that would backfire on the National Party.

Moroney denied it was a political blunder on her part.

"That's a very bad look for the Prime Minister to be connected with that sort of politicking in Hamilton."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's office said Key had no knowledge of the dirty tactics and did not condone it.

Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe said he would sack anyone from his campaign team if they were found to have defaced opponents' election hoardings.

"I want to run a clean campaign. If we are going to fight the electorate, I want to do it in a fair way and I don't want anyone undermining that effort by thinking they are being helpful."

Macindoe was overseas until Sunday night and said it was "a damned nuisance" when signs were damaged.

Former Labour MP and Hamilton City Councillor Martin Gallagher's signs were targeted when he was campaigning, he said it was most likely the work of a third party.

"Obviously, the election season has begun," he said. "Election campaigns bring out the best and worst in people."

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elton.smallman@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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