By Theresa Garner
Northcote MP Ian Revell's "unwise" reaction to a $40 parking ticket might yet leave a legacy redder than his face.
Labour's hope of winning a North Shore seat rests partly on his double-parking near a school crossing and then pulling rank on a police superintendent.
The MP for nine years, and former policeman, is at pains to point out that he paid his fine a full month before the exchange of letters in which he threatened a man's job prospects.
"I'm working hard to convey to people that while I did make an error of judgment, it wasn't in connection with getting off my own parking fine. It was about police process, and what the police were doing instead of getting on with far more important work."
Yet the episode has hurt him, and Mr Revell concedes he is up against a strong candidate in Labour's Ann Hartley. On paper, a swing of 10 per cent is required for Labour to take the seat.
Mrs Hartley, a former North Shore mayor, is confident of victory but the anti-Government vote may be split between her and the Alliance's strong contender, Grant Gillon, who may end up in Parliament from the party list.
Ann Hartley is trying for her third time against Mr Revell and some say her losing streak could count against her.
The electorate contains a cross-section of New Zealanders and a large mortgage belt. Mr Revell is trying to frighten those mortgage-heavy constituents by saying a Labour-Alliance government would force up home interest rates. He opposes MMP and is not on National's party list.
Mr Dillon, the Democrats deputy leader, who got more than 11 per cent of the votes in 1996, is running an energetic campaign and will be looking to use his profile to raise the Alliance party vote, which lagged behind his personal vote three years ago.
Ann Hartley believes that Mr Revell has lost between 2000 and 3000 votes. If he manages 10,000, and the Labour Party pulls up Ann Hartley, who got 9216 in 1996, the seat could be on knife's edge.
Some of the 10 per cent party vote New Zealand First scored last time will go to Labour, and a stroppy Grey Power force on the North Shore will give National a hard time.
Act candidate Alex Wong will have a job retaining the 10 per cent of the party vote obtained last election. A run by United candidate Murray Callister may be aimed at cashing in on the 5 per cent support for the 1996 candidate, Peter Hilt. United's party vote in 1996 was just over 1 per cent.