Key: By-election result 'unsurprising'

Last updated 08:22 02/12/2013

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Prime Minister John Key has dismissed claims the Government's in "real trouble", after National's candidate was heavily defeated in the Christchurch East by-election.

Labour cruised to a convincing win this weekend in the seat that is traditionally theirs, with Poto Williams polling 8119 votes to National's Matthew Doocey's 3506.

Key said this morning the result was not surprising and didn't represent a big loss to the Government.

"The turnout was pretty low," Key told Breakfast.

"There's no party vote in a by-election so if you know you're not going to win a seat we haven't held since, I think, 1922 when it was formed . . . our voters just knew we weren't going to win.

"And we told them we weren't going to win so that's the way it goes."

The Greens' candidate, David Moorhouse, polled 926 while the Conservatives' Leighton Baker received 487 votes.

ACT received less votes than the Legalise Cannabis party, and Key said the Government's coalition partner had some challenges.

"In a by-election in what is a safe Labour seat it's quite a different proposition to a general election," he said.

"To put it into perspective, about 14,000 people voted in this by-election. In Helensville . . . the amount I won over and above everyone else, was 22,000 in a general election.

"But, yeah they've got their challenges and they're going to have to work through those."

Williams, 51, has had a career in social and community services, largely in Auckland.

Wellington-born and Auckland-raised, Williams, of Cook Island heritage, grew up in Ponsonby.

She has worked for the Ministry of Education and several social agencies including BirthRight, Healthcare NZ and some disability groups.

She moved to Christchurch after being appointed regional manager of youth agency St John of God Hauroa Trust in February until resigning in September when she was selected as Labour's candidate.

Key and Labour Leader David Cunliffe spent significant time in the lead-up to the by-election, campaigning with their candidates.

Cunliffe hailed the result as "a stonking win" and a signal that the Government was "in serious trouble", both in Christchurch and around New Zealand.

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- Stuff

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