Just returned from a cannabis law reform protest outside the Meet the Candidates Town Hall meeting in Otaki. I left my notebook at home, and ended up writing notes from the meeting on my palm. Hence, I have to blog now or let the night terrors wash my notes away.
Organised by the Otaki Rotary Club and held at the War Memorial Hall, I was somewhat disappointed that they had excluded local ALCP candidate Fred MacDonald from talking at the meeting. He was in the audience and wasn't so much as offered a two minute address during the ninety minute meeting. Mind you, Katrina Shanks didn't speak at last night's Tawa meeting either, albeit for different reasons. Shanks is not so eager to win her Ohariu seat from Dunne. Call it Goldsmith Syndrome.
The four permitted candidates for the Otaki meeting were incumbent National MP Nathan Guy, Labour's Peter Foster, the Greens' Michael Gilchrist and some old geezer for NZ First. I had the misfortune of sitting adjacent to Nathan Guy's campaign manager, so I had to put up with lots of happy clapping during Guy's answers.
Guy started the gig professionally enough, but audience derision started promptly after he justified the expressway bypass as good for Otaki. Freudian slips such as "National are encouraging people into unemployment" were unforced errors of his own design. When a question on the MMP referendum popped up, I was surprised that he limited his criticisms of MMP to rural electorate sizes. Not once did he mention the party line of SM.
His defence of National Standards was similarly limp. So much so, I felt confident enough to speak up and put the boot in a couple of times, much to his campaign manager's chagrin. So much for Stephen Joyce's apprentice. I was underwhelmed by that Guy.
Labour's Peter Foster all but read off his notes all evening. He seemed most clued up when advising on Labour's release schedule for policy in the coming week. He hardly scratched Guy on the SOE sell-downs. I would have expected more policy detail and conviction from a lawyer, yet Foster seems to be treating the candidate run as a fruitless part-time pursuit.
The Green Party's Michael Gilchrist had hot and cold moments during his responses. Even so, he was arguably the "winner" on the night. He mentioned the insulation scheme that the Nats pinched off the Greens, and was fond of the word alienation. e.g. alienation of state assets, of youth unemployment.
It is worth noting at this point that the only brown fellas in the room were Gilchrist and Foster. The audience was almost entirely elderly and white. No young families. The only genuinely young person in the room was the More FM reporter. Not exactly representative of Brotaki at large.