Editorial: Anyone out there?

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014

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OPINION: SITUATION vacant: Labour Party candidate for Rangitata.

Hours: Many, including night and weekend work.

Job requirements: A passion, a viewpoint, an ability to sell both. Yes, this does include public speaking.

Additional attributes: A thick skin, a sharp memory, a hard work ethic, an ability to multi-task. A willingness not to have a "normal" life.

Remuneration: During the campaign, some petrol money. Not much. Some. After the election, well, that depends. If successful, base salary roughly $150,000 a year. If not, nothing.

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It is not surprising then that there would be a limited number of applicants. Sure, there are rewards once you get the job, but getting the job is the hard part. Hundreds of hours of hard work and the putting on hold of your own life for months can ultimately count for nothing.

So it is that the Labour Party in the Rangitata electorate finds itself without a candidate for an election in perhaps six months time. It has extended its nominations for another month.

It is a shame no one has stepped forward so far. Good democracy requires competing sides, views, personalities. And Labour is a main player on the stage. Making things worse is that the Green Party will also not be standing anyone in Rangitata.

It is understandable that Labour's candidate from the last two elections, Julian Blanchard, is not available. He worked solidly for two elections without the ultimate reward, and fair enough that he concentrate on his own life again.

But that no one else locally is prepared to step forward indicates the party may need to bring a candidate into the electorate, and in provincial New Zealand that doesn't go down well.

We like to know our political candidates, their pedigree, their backgrounds.

This is such a far cry for Labour from the days of Sir Basil Arthur and Jim Sutton, but just because incumbent Jo Goodhew has a healthy majority and just because electoral boundaries and names (Timaru to Aoraki to Rangitata) have changed it doesn't mean you give up.

This is nothing against Mrs Goodhew, but it's healthy to have choice. Isn't there anyone out there?

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- The Timaru Herald

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