Mayor Phil Goff 'unapologetic' about campaign in Mt Roskill by-election

TURNING TABLES: In 2011 Labour's Mt Roskill byelection candidate Michael Wood campaigned for Phil Goff. Now Goff is campaigning for Wood.  Photo/Doug Sherring
TURNING TABLES: In 2011 Labour's Mt Roskill byelection candidate Michael Wood campaigned for Phil Goff. Now Goff is campaigning for Wood. Photo/Doug Sherring

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has defended his involvement in Labour candidate Michael Wood's campaign for the Mt Roskill by-election but said he will not help Labour campaign in the general election in 2017.

National's candidate Parmjeet Parmar questioned Goff's involvement in Labour candidate Wood's campaign, saying it made a sham of Goff's claim to be 'independent.'

"It's up to them how they run their campaign but Mt Roskill voters deserve to know who is funding it and if it's the independent mayor Phil Goff or their candidate running the campaign."

In response, Wood said Parmar had binged on Parliamentary-funded advertising material in the lead-up to the by-election campaign to maximise her profile.

Goff will attend a $60-a-head fundraiser dinner for Wood with the Indian community billed as a "special dinner with new Mayor Phil Goff" and "unique opportunity to hear from Phil and Michael".

A mailout of Wood's campaign leaflet also included a letter from Goff praising Wood on private letterhead but which twice referred to his role as mayor.

Goff denied he was using his position as mayor, saying his support for Wood was as a personal friend who served as Goff's electorate chair "and I'm doing it unapologetically and openly".

He would not take any part in Labour's campaign in 2017 because as mayor he had to represent the interests of Auckland with whichever party ended up in Government.

A spokeswoman for Goff said it was being paid from Wood's Mt Roskill campaign fund and not mayoral or parliamentary funding.

Wood questioned the extent of Parmar's use of Parliamentary-funded advertising material in the lead up to the by-election campaign.

The by-election was called on October 10 but was widely anticipated and Wood said there was a sharp increase in Parliamentary-funded advertising from Parmar in the weeks before.

That included large hoardings advertising public meetings with a minister and a mailout of invitations to 'street corner meetings' held on October 8 - the same day as the local body elections and two days before the by-election was called.

Wood said street corner meetings were usually associated with campaigns and Parmar was widely expected to be selected for National.

"We were a bit surprised and disappointed there was such a load of Parliamentary Services advertising. We've moved on, but there were a few eyebrows raised. It seemed a bit off, not quite an even playing field."

National's Mt Roskill byelection candidate Parmjeet Parmar. PHOTO/ Lincoln Tan
National's Mt Roskill byelection candidate Parmjeet Parmar. PHOTO/ Lincoln Tan

Parmar said the advertising pre-dated the by-election and she was not using any Parliamentary resources to campaign. Organising public meetings was part of her work as a local List MP so locals could voice their concerns and get information.

PM John Key also included Parmar in a video of a special housing area in Mt Roskill which went onto his Facebook page on October 10, although he does not mention the by-election. It had the Parliamentary crest signifying it was paid for from Parliamentary resources.

Parliamentary funding cannot be used for direct electioneering at any time, or for any form of election advertising during an election campaign.

The 'regulated period' in which spending and election advertising rules apply began on October 14 and Parmar was announced as a candidate on October 19.

The spending cap for candidates in a by-election is $52,400 - double that of the cap for electorate candidates in a general election.

- NZ Herald

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