Dunedin Election Blog
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Election forum report
Last night we had what was supposed to be the "big" election forum at one of the Town Hall rooms. A full report will be given later as there were some bizarre moments and some bizarre characters. In the meantime:

Rebecca Fox writes in todays Otago Daily Times:

Tax cuts, energy dilemmas, and family issues dominated discussions by 16 candidates at an election forum in Dunedin last night.
The forum, organized by the Star and the Otago Chamber of Commerce, attracted about 50 people to the Dunedin Centre's Fullwood Room.
It gave all candidates equal opportunity to outline their parties election platforms, and to speak about three issues suggested by members of the public – tax cuts, energy and abortion.
All parties were promising tax relief in some form, with Alliance's Victor Billot, of Dunedin North, getting a round of applause for advocating a tax cut for ordinary people, not the ones needing a "second BMW or spa pool."
National's Katherine Rich, of Dunedin North, defended her parties policy, saying it was fair, simple and hit people who needed it, unlike the "bossy boot" Labour Government policy.
Labour's David Benson-Pope, of Dunedin South, bit back, by saying the Working for Families pledge was affordable, did not require borrowing, and targeted those most in need.
Green Party candidate Peter Tomlinson, of Dunedin South, got a round of applause for saying Labour's policy was about children, not adults.
Many candidates were claiming to be a little green when it came to addressing increasing demand for electricity and plans to avert a power crisis.
National's Conway Powell, of Dunedin South, described himself as "blue green" when it came to conservation.
"We're all in the poo together."
Mr Billot called for the country's power to be returned to the people.
"It's our power, and should be provided at a reasonable price."

PS Chris Ford also attended the meeting and spoke very well. We were both well received by the audience.

Monday, August 29, 2005
Upcoming Forums in Dunedin North
A whole bunch of meet the candidate events coming up:

Tomorrow night Tuesday 30 August the local community newspaper the Star have organized a public forum for candidates at the Dunedin Centre (Town Hall) Fullwood Room at 7pm, which both myself and Chris Ford will be attending for the Alliance.

Up next is a candidate forum at the Maori Hill Community Centre, 607 Highgate, Dunedin at 7.30pm on Tuesday 6 September where I will be speaking on behalf of the Alliance.

At 12.15 pm on Thursday 8 September I will be speaking at the Knox Church Hall, this forum organized by the Presbyterian Church is focussed on social issues.

The local trade unions have organized a forum on Wednesday 14 September 2005, 7pm at the Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, which I will be speaking at.

Alliance in the news
The Alliance campaign in Auckland received an interesting boost when Otago Daily Times journalist Dene McKenzie called in recently. You can read about it online on the ODT's election website.

Alliance candidate for Wigram Tom Dowie has taken a stand (and a tent) against Meridian Energy and their price hikes – check out the story here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Environment Forum Review
The campaign trail is getting busier by the day and I have attended many meetings and spoken to many people.

Today there was an environment forum at Otago University where I spoke along with a number of other candidates. Here is my review of the forum. I don't review my own performance in the interests of fairness.

The forum was held in one of the main common rooms for the students. Once again only a fairly small crowd of around 100 attended. I guess this is because the right wing have suceeded in turning many young people into self-focussed individuals who have no interest in these things. Or perhaps the students don't see politicians as relevant to their lives.

Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens) was first up. She came across as mild mannered except for when she got into some argument with the ACT party guy about the Fiordland marine reserve. The Green campaign has been terrible on a national level. Their billboards are unreadable, they seem to have no one on the ground for a party with a whole bunch of MPs, and they're entirely concentrating on cuddling up to Labour and going for the "respectable" vote. This means that their policies on free trade and GE will be "toned down" as they seek to portray themselves as reasonable. The result will be ineffectiveness.
Jeanette's speech content was a solid 7, but her style and enthusiasm barely makes a 5.

David Parker (Labour) came in next. He is a very low profile MP for Otago, but managed to summon up some fire in his verbal battles with ACT Otago list MP Gerry Eckhoff. They had a face off at the microphone but middle-aged men trying to be tough always look a little embarrassing. Anyway, David has no hope in winning back Otago as it was only due to the fact National stuffed it up so badly in 2002 that he won anyway. A good speaker, although a little whiney at times, but it all seemed a bit formulaic.
David receives a 6 for content, and a 6 for style and enthusiasm.

Gerry Eckhoff (ACT) is a bizarre character. He comes across as some kind of upper class caricature with his private school tones and pinstriped suit. Today he must have had a good breakfast because he managed to spark up a bit. Only candidate there who said he didn't believe the greenhouse effect was real, or at least human beings had nothing to do with it. Hopefully his high country farm turns into a desert.
Relegated to the bottom of the list for ACT, he knows his time is up, and tries to cover a forlorn air with bluster.
In his favour, he did concede to me there was a difference between Stalinism and democratic socialism in a post debate conversation.
Gerry has improved his form marginally with a 5 for content, and a 6 for enthusiasm (no style though.)

Guy with a beard (United). A forgettable character from Wanaka, like all United candidates has no idea. This bloke was from the fishing and hunting wing of the United Party, as opposed to the Smoking in Pubs or crazed fundamentalist Christian wing of the United Party. Tried to follow the leader and kept on repeating "common sense" then looked confused when no one clapped. One of my pet hates is people who get involved in politics for these single issue causes like fishing and hunting. Everyone else is trying to talk about the future of the country and all they are interested in is fishing and hunting. Like big boys who have never grown up past the toy soldiers and matchbox car years. Give us a break.
Guy with a beard wins 3 for content, based on the fact he did know about fishing and hunting, if nothing else. 3 for enthusiasm, based on the fact at least he came down from Wanaka.

Conway Powell (National). I feel more and more sorry for Conway. The candidate for Dunedin South has spent all his campaign energy turning up at the tough debates which Katherine Rich is ignoring. Obviously Katherine is hoping Don Brash is going to lose the election, so she can step forward as New Zealand's version of Margaret Thatcher. In the meantime, she is nowhere to be found.
Conway is trying to plug the gap, and occasionally tries to talk tough with New Right economics, but his heart doesn't seem in it and he always ends up coming across kind of middle of the road. A kind of pale ghostly local image of Bill English on a bad day.
Conway wins 4 for content, and 4 for enthusiasm. Points off for the weak jokes, but a small credit for the fact that he is a trained botanist. Then again, loads of points off for the fact that he represents a nasty party that will launch an all out attack on workers, beneficiairies, students and the poor. Boo!

So there we go. Hi to the students who came up afterwards and discussed things. To the guys at the "MysterTron" flat – I'll be in touch about the sign.

Saturday, August 20, 2005
Alliance media coverage
The Stuff news website has a good rundown on the Alliance as part of its 2005 election feature.

The Alliance television presentation is TV One tonight between 7.30pm and 8.30pm as well.

Friday, August 19, 2005
Forum TONIGHT at Mornington
I have managed to get onto the panel at an election forum tonight at the last moment!

Question the candidates meeting at 7.30pm, Friday 19 August, St Marys Hall, Lawrence/Whitby Streets, Mornington. Free admission.

Knox College talk
I spoke last night to the students at Knox College. It was great to get an invitation to go along, and I was surprised at the good number of students who turned up and asked questions . . . lots of questions. I was there for an hour and a half.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
National would prefer to ladle out huge tax cuts to the already rich while students and workers go to the wall
Published Otago Daily Times, Wednesday 17 August:

National Finance spokesperson John Key says no interest on student loans means students will be spending more money on booze.
What a joke.
Most students probably could live for a month for the cost of one of the corporate dinners he attends.
National would prefer to ladle out huge tax cuts to the already rich while students and workers go to the wall.
Then Labour MP Trevor Mallard says that John Key received his education for free.
But so did Trevor Mallard.
Labour's interest free student loans election bribe is a cynical attempt to draw attention away from the fact they introduced user pays education into New Zealand.
The problem is not the interest.
The problem is student loans and a $7 billion dollar debt getting bigger by the day.
The Alliance policy is to scrap the student debt, introduce free education for all and have universal student allowances.
The cost of this will be partially covered by increasing tax on John Key and Trevor Mallard, and others on their income level.

Catch the Alliance election address on TV1 this coming Saturday, August 20.
It was produced and edited by Vanguard Film's Rod Prosser who put a great amount of time, effort and creative energy into its production. Vanguard made the anti-New Right documentaries "Someone Else's Country" and "In a Land of Plenty". Alister Barry, the producer of these documentaries, helped out with the Alliance presentation. Well known film-maker Steve LaHood directed the film shoot.
A radio version airs on National radio the same evening.
The Alliance election address will be broadcast during the following time slots.
TV1, 7.30pm - 8.30pm, Saturday August 20
National Radio, 8.05pm - 9pm, Saturday August 20
Spread the word.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Dunedin North Alliance campaign releases THEME SONG
I am pleased to announce that the ALLIANCE PARTY CAMPAIGN FOR DUNEDIN NORTH . . .

now has it's very own Theme Song.

The track is "Communicate", the work of underground electronic artist MC 8 BIT, who has donated his righteous beats and direct word stylings to the campaign.

Download Communicate here in mp3 format.

Saturday, August 13, 2005
Forest and Bird Forum – what happened?
The Forest and Bird Forum was last night. I spoke with a number of other candidates and there were probably over 100 people in attendance. It was an interesting meeting and I'll probably make some further posts about it later.

In the meantime, the Otago Daily Times says today:

"Alliance Party Dunedin North candidate Victor Billot proposed total public control of conservation land and power generation, and warned the corporate and international economy would destroy the environment if left unchecked."

Billboard demolition attacks on the motorway
We had an attack on the Northern Motorway billboard recently. All the party billboards had been wiped out and spray painted, although ours was repairable.

The strange thing was, all the vandalized signs had "Destiny NZ" spraypainted on with a big tick. Either there is a vandal out there with a strange sense of humour or a rogue gang of moronic fundamentalists.

Local National MP Katherine Rich had fangs and horns drawn on her photo, and Don Brash had been touched up to resemble a certain German dictator.

And from the Otago Daily Times today . . .

"Victor Billot of the Alliance was contacted yesterday, having spent many hours replacing the damaged billboard."

"We make a point of not having faces on our billboards now, because it just asks for trouble."

TV interview with parrots in the background
I was interviewed briefly on Channel 9 about the Alliance's stance on the environment yesterday before the Forest and Bird Forum.

You can download the interview at the Channel 9 website.

We did the interview at the Botanic Gardens, next to the parrot enclosure. I like the parrots.

You can check out the full Alliance environmental policy on our website.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Middle-aged National candidate ruins hiphop styles with funky chicken dance

The Otago Polytech "Political Idol" contest was today. It involved highly undignified things like a three legged race and a rap contest where candidates had to rhyme their policies over a phat hip hop beat.

Candidate rating:

Conway Powell (National):
Conway listened to my advice from last time and told the students the truth. National weren't going to do anything for students. Then he launched into a speech about freedom from the State which apparently is interfering in our lives. Presumably he means things like health and safety laws at work which help stop workers getting killed and injured. (But I guess that's OK – as long as the corporates are making those fat profits, National are more than happy.)
Conway had a good "rap" style, but unfortunately he ruined it by doing this strange kind of funky chicken dance.
Marks: 6 out of 10, less apologetic than last time and good skills on the mike, but marks off for the chicken dance.

Lesley Soper (Labour):
Because Dunedin's two Labour MPs Pete Hodgson and David "Tennis Ball" Benson-Pope are too busy to bother with doing too much campaigning in their "safe" seats, they have been sending Invercargill based list MP Lesley Soper along to talk to the students.
Lesley established her street cred with the students by telling them she used to work as librarian, before making a credible attempt at hip hop with her rap. Her rhymes were good but she lacked the battle MC technique and could barely be heard over the tinny sound system.
My theory is with Labour is they shouldn't bother turning up to meetings at all, because they always get more applause at the start than at the finish.
Marks: 6 out of 10, needs to improve microphone technique though.

Phillippa Jamieson and Peter (Green):
The Greens have an unnerving habit of turning up to meetings in twos, asking if they can take turns speaking, and then both of them end up speaking all the time thus getting them twice as much airtime. Perhaps under that cover of consensus and peace, they are really Machivellian characters.
Phillippa's rap was very old-school, more like a late seventies Ska song. Peter did a rap, he had more of a gangsta style, but this didn't gel with his novelty cap which he wore backwards. Probably better than others, but once again the hat turned him from gangsta rap to high school English teacher just like that.
Marks: 7 out of 10, but need to stop attending meetings in twos like they are unable to get on a stage by themselves.

Willie Martin (ACT):
Willie did better this time as he didn't have any hecklers, he goes to pieces when they start shouting at him.
I can't help thinking how depressing it must be being an ACT candidate. They are so wound up on being successful and all-round winners, so it must be quite difficult to face the fact you are going to be completely wiped out in the election
Marks: 6 out of 10, but all his thunder was stolen today by Conway.

Once again, I will not give myself a mark for reasons of bias.

We had a digital pic taken on a mobile phone . . . that's me on the left (funnily enough) with my Alliance sign.

Sunday, August 07, 2005
Billboard Fever

Saturday: eleven hours of billboarding. Dunedin voters will see our large Alliance billboards all over town.

The only other billboards around are National and Labour. Neither tell you what they stand for. They just say things like "vote for me" or feature ugly larger than life pictures of Don Brash with a fake grin plastered over his mug.

Next week we are putting round our smaller signs at peoples houses – if you would like a small "Vote Alliance" sign to display at your house, let me know and we'll get you one.

Thanks to the billboard team: Julie, Jimmy, Marvin and Harry who took care of the construction work . . . and also Auckland Alliance for the great signs.

Friday, August 05, 2005
Alliance confirmed at Environment Forum
I will be speaking on behalf of the Alliance Party at a Forest and Bird Society Election forum, together with other candidates.

The forum is at the Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, on Friday August 12 from 7.30pm.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Update, political idols and knox college
Busy times. In fact so busy I haven't had times to do any new posts.

This weekend the local campaign team will be out and about putting up our mega sized billboards around Dunedin, which are already having a good impact around Auckland suburbs.

We are also putting smaller billboards up on peoples front lawns and fences – if you would like one, let us know – my contact details are on my website – link is on your right.

The other big project is a mass leafletting of Dunedin. We need volunteers. We already have a good team but it is a big job! I have done a lot of work on our national election publication which should be out in the next week or so.

Upcoming events include the "Politician Idol" event at Otago Polytech on Wednesday 10 August and I have been invited along to Knox College on Thursday 18 August. One of the students there, Efa, has taken it upon herself to organize visits by candidates to speak to the students. So who said students were apathetic?

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