Two MPs may lose Christchurch seats

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 07:02 22/11/2013
ruth dyson
DON SCOTT/ Fairfax NZ
CHRISTCHURCH MP: Ruth Dyson.
Nicky Wagner
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
MARGINAL: National's Nicky Wagner on 2011 election night.

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OPINION: They may just be lines on a map but they could signal the beginning of the end for at least two Canterbury politicians.

Three electorates - Christchurch East, Christchurch Central and Port Hills - will change dramatically under proposals released yesterday.

Christchurch Central MP Nicky Wagner and long-time Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson would have been far from thrilled when their new-look electorates were unveiled by the Representation Commission yesterday.

Both, at first blush, look to be the potential victims of a necessary redrawing after parts of Christchurch suffered major population drops after the earthquakes.

Wagner was "deeply disappointed" after learning she had lost Shirley and Mairehau, where she had solid support and yet gained communities like Beckenham, Sydenham and Waltham which tend to vote Labour.

She is understandably putting on a brave face but the political gods seem to be against her.

Wagner turned the traditionally safe Labour Christchurch Central seat into a National patch even if the majority was a wafer-thin 47 votes. The odds of her repeating that in 2014 are very small.

She is talking about possibly standing in another electorate but which one? She is currently ranked 42 and an elevation is unlikely.

For her to say the seat no longer "feels" like Christchurch Central speaks volumes. She is clearly angry and frustrated and may feel she has been hard done by.

Dyson is also another facing an uncertain future and some well-placed party officials yesterday conceded it will be nigh impossible for Labour and Dyson to win support in traditionally conservative communities like Akaroa and Halswell.

What Dyson enjoys that Wagner does not is a healthy majority and that could be the one thing that saves her from political oblivion. But she sits outside David Cunliffe's shadow Cabinet which is hardly a glowing endorsement.

Labour is in for a real dogfight in that seat. Much, though, will depend on whether Speaker of the House and Port Hills list MP David Carter is the National candidate or if the Government's programme of renewal extends there and a new face is in the mix.

The other seat of interest is Waimakariri which, last time, was a ding-dong battle between National's Kate Wilkinson and Labour's Clayton Cosgrove. Wilkinson holds the seat but is retiring and Cosgrove will sniff a very real chance of regaining it.

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Only one thing was obvious yesterday. The draft boundaries will have both major political parties worried as they chart their next general election campaigns.

POLITICAL MOVEMENTS

- Marshland moves from Waimakariri to Christchurch East.

- Redwood moves from Waimakariri to Christchurch Central.

- 11,110 voters from Christchurch Central (Mairehau) move to Christchurch East and 4400 Bromley voters move to Christchurch East.

- Christchurch Central gains 7700 voters from Waimakariri (Redwood community) and a further 10,300 from the Sydenham and Beckenham areas previously in the Port Hills electorate.

- Wigram gives up 7900 voters in Hei Hei and they are redistributed into Selwyn.

- The Press

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