Epsom debate: Candidate raises 'the elephant in the room'

From left to right: NZ First's Cliff Lyon, the Greens' Julie Ann Genter, National's Paul Goldsmith, ACT's David Seymour (standing), Independent candidate Grace Haden and Labour's Michael Wood. Photo / Brendan Manning
From left to right: NZ First's Cliff Lyon, the Greens' Julie Ann Genter, National's Paul Goldsmith, ACT's David Seymour (standing), Independent candidate Grace Haden and Labour's Michael Wood. Photo / Brendan Manning

"The elephant in the room" has been raised at an Epsom candidates' debate tonight - which candidate do Labour and the Greens want voters to give their electorate vote to?

Almost 100 members and friends of the Epsom Rotary Club braved a cold, rainy winter's night to gather at the Epsom Bowling Club to hear what candidates aspiring to be their local MP, and to represent their own party, had to offer the constituents.

Candidates were given five minutes each to introduce themselves and highlight their party's key policies before questions were opened up to the floor.

NZ First candidate, former solicitor and self-confessed "just a one week old politician" Cliff Lyon was the first to speak.

A late-comer to the campaign for Epsom, the grandfather of eight and "solid Grey Power member" said it was a disgrace that jobs were more scarce and wages were going down.

NZ First would create a new agency to provide affordable land to New Zealanders, he said.
"These sort of things are not new in politics. They were done after the war and they can be done again," Mr Lyon said.

ACT's David Seymour was second to take the podium, boasting about the 11,000 doors he had knocked on in the electorate and his calloused knuckles as a result.

"I'm asking for your candidate vote to be the next MP for Epsom," Mr Seymour said, detailing his history and his roots in the electorate.

Referring to National's support for him as the MP for Epsom, Mr Seymour said he did not vote for MMP, joking; "I have a very strong alibi; I was in primary school at the time."

However that was the system they had, so they had to use it to their advantage, he said.

When questions were later opened up to the floor, a member of the audience addressed what Labour's Michael Wood described as "the elephant in the room" - who did the Greens and Labour suggest Epsom voters give their electorate vote to so as to avoid "propping up National"?

The Greens' Julie Anne Genter said her party's policy was to appeal for constituents' party, not electorate vote, however she suggested they "voted for the candidate who they felt best represented them".

Mr Wood said he chose to run in Epsom this year because the "democratic outrage" of National's support for ACT's Mr Seymour made him "sick".

Prime Minister John Key said he would vote for National's Epsom candidate Paul Goldsmith, Mr Wood said, and what was good for Mr Key should also be good for the people of Epsom.

Stopping short of suggesting Epsom constituents strategically vote for Mr Goldsmith to prevent Mr Seymour from winning the seat, Mr Wood suggested voters "have a look at the candidates and make your own decision."

Independent candidate Grace Haden and Mr Goldsmith were also present and spoke.
The Conservative's Christine Rankin was notably absent.

- APNZ

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