National will back Dunne for Ohariu

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 13:24 22/07/2011

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National has done a deal with the United Future Party and will campaign for the party vote in the Wellington electorate of Ohariu to help leader Peter Dunne retain the seat.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said it was up to the voters of Ohariu to make their own decisions about what they did with their electorate vote. However, National would be running a strong party vote campaign.

"In Ohariu, as in all local campaigns, we will be emphasising that the National Party needs strong support if it is to form another John Key-led National Government. If that's what voters want then our message is simple, give National your party vote."

Although the electorate has changed names and faced boundary changes over the years, Dunne has held the seat for either Labour or United Future since 1984.

However, his majority has been declining and in 2008 he gained just 1006 votes more than Labour's Charles Chauvel and 2294 votes more than National's candidate Katrina Shanks. That was down from a majority of 12,534 in 2002.

It is understood recent polling by Labour puts Chauvel ahead of both Shanks and Dunne.

Green Party candidate Gareth Hughes has said he will only campaign for the party vote in Ohariu and will encourage Green supporters to give their electorate vote to Chauvel.

In April Key signalled he would follow a similar strategy in Ohariu to the strategy the party is following in Epsom; National would only campaign for the party vote in order to assist its support partner ACT back to Parliament. Like United Future, ACT's low polling means its political survival depends on winning an electorate seat.

Dunne said National's approach was consistent with indications given by Prime Minister John Key in April.

"This is good sense if voters want a strong second term National-led government, but as always, the voters will decide."

The deal also made sense in light of the agreement between Labour and the Greens, he said.

"Given their apparent moral objection to ACT and National aligning interests in Epsom, their actions here in Ohariu are hypocritical to say the least."

Ohariu voters were "educated and politically sophisticated", Dunne said. He was confident that they would think through the implications of their vote.

"It is coming down to whether they want a centrist or a left wing MP in Ohariu... (I) will stand on my record of delivering as an effective MP who works hard for the electorate, because it is where I live and work."

Shanks, who will be standing in Ohariu for the third time, said she was working hard in the electorate. "We will be running a strong local campaign."

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- The Dominion Post

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