Local politicians and political hopefuls have welcomed the postponement of the General Election by four weeks.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this morning that due to the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland, the new date will be October 17. She added that this date would be final – there would be no further delays.
Rodney-based Labour-list MP Marja Lubeck says the postponement means that everyone can be reassured on measures taken so that they can safely participate and cast their vote.
“That is what access to a fair election and democracy is about,” Ms Lubeck says. “While the decision on the election date sits with the PM, in true form she choose to collaborate on the issue, considering opinions across a broad spectrum including the leaders of all parties in Parliament, BusinessNZ and the NZ Council of Trade Unions.”
Ms Lubek says that with the uncertainty of Covid, it would be wise to adapt to all possible scenarios and to ensure that candidates don’t just rely on face-to-face events and meetings in the weeks leading up to October 17, but to also prepare for remote and online communications.
National’s Helensville MP Chris Penk says he is also pleased with the postponement.
“Credit where credit is due – the Prime Minister has made a good call on the election date,” he says.
“At a time that recent failures of testing at the border have caused huge uncertainty, it became inevitable that the election would need to be delayed,” he says.
“For me, the most important thing remains the lives and livelihoods and those living in the Kaipara ki Mahurangi electorate and across the country.”
Social Credit candidate Callan Neylon says the extra weeks will ensure a free and fair democratic election takes place.
“It is essential that voters who wish to meet candidates in person and attend events such as debates and public meetings have the opportunities to do so as these events are an important part of New Zealand’s democracy,” he says.
“It is often forgotten that many New Zealanders still have little to no reliable internet connection or digital literacy, the ability for face-to-face campaigning ensures these voters are not forgotten and have the opportunity to be informed of all options on who to vote for. I believe the new election date will enable all parties enough time for ‘traditional’ campaigning once the current Covid outbreak is eliminated.
“Pushing the election back to November or 2021, as some were advocating for, would have been too great of a delay. I am glad the Prime Minister made it clear there would be no further delays to the election date.”
ACT candidate Beth Houlbrooke says a postponed election is right to ensure that it is a free and fair election.
“Public meetings have been cancelled, there can be no door-knocking, street corner meetings, or even delivery of flyers in Auckland,” she says. “The current government, on the other hand, receives an extraordinary amount of air time. This is clearly unfair.”
Ms Houlbrooke says the public has a democratic right to hear from and question their local candidates and party policies, something that is extremely curtailed under current conditions.
“The delay will give us more time to question the Government’s failing public health strategy, and New Zealanders more room to gain an understanding about the lack of testing, poor contact tracing and border bungles.”
NZ First candidate Brenda Steele says the new date allows the campaign to begin once Auckland is out of Level 3 and gives all parties time to campaign fairly.
“However we still need to be cautious as we step down to level two and one when engaging with locals,” she says.
“Being part of Auckland, for the northern end of Kaipara ki Mahurangi, has been a nightmare. Locals that live in Wellsford and work in Kaiwaka have been turned around at the checkpoint, unable to go to work. People who use the services of Wellsford and Warkworth due to very little services in their coastal or rural villages, like Mangawhai or Kaiwaka, are also unable to enter Auckland presently, who would normally do all their shopping in north Rodney.”
Independent for Kaipara Ki Mahurangi David Ford says, “the evolution, vibrancy and ‘thrivival’ of our NZ and other functioning democracies depends on the maximum on going participation by the citizens (ideally 100 per cent )”.
“New Zealand has a long proud history of a highly engaged and informed Kiwi voting public,” he says. “Candidates forums, group and person-to-person discussions, spirited civil debate and outreach in the one month window before the election allows electors to make wise informed personal voting choices, which in turn make better Government.
“ This latest Novel Covid-19 spike would have shortened the traditional parties nominees, and Independent , like myself, from being able to present our ideas, points of view, aspirations as potential ‘public servants’ to serve you – our Ultimate Bosses – when by majority vote of your combined voices, one of us in KkM is elected to serve you, and seek to benefit our brilliant wee nation.
“As a nation we are universally admired, and bat way above our weight on the world stage. Thus Jacinda’s considered choice.”