Round One: interest vs impact

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2013

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OPINION: Two campaigns. Two very different methods.

You can tell the political heat in the Christchurch East by-election is warming up when the major parties start sending their heavyweights into the east more regularly.

But National and Labour, predictably it has to be said, went about their respective campaigns in very different ways yesterday.

National concentrated on pitching the Government's massive investment and how it has made the Christchurch rebuild one of its top priorities. It sent the well-dressed Health Minister Tony Ryall down for a couple of hours' campaigning alongside candidate Matthew Doocey.

Together they went to an elderly people's day centre, then had a creamy flat white at a popular beachside cafe.

For Labour, it was more gritty, less in your face and more to the point.

Leader David Cunliffe jetted in for his now weekly Thursday visit to support candidate Poto Williams.

The pair, with MPs Grant Robertson and Megan Woods close by, met two South New Brighton families overwhelmed and frustrated at long-running delays to get a settlement with their insurers.

The cafe visit attracted some interest, with Doocey speaking to one constituent at length, but their presence barely caused a murmur and almost as little media interest with only The Press and a local television station attending. The day-centre effort gave them an audience with just 50 potential voters.

Williams' turn may have been less public but dealt with one of the key issues in the electorate and attracted one television channel, a radio network and The Press.

In terms of mileage and impact, the Labour event was a clear winner.

More of these stage-managed political events are likely in the next fortnight as the November 30 poll nears.

Cunliffe is back every Thursday and will bring down a swag of MPs on election night while senior Government ministers, and possibly Prime Minister John Key, will almost certainly be wheeled out for Doocey as he attempts to spoil that party.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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