Napier's Conservative candidate, Garth McVicar, says his party has amended an election flyer which incorrectly stated Labour's stance on a 2012 local government law change was pivotal to the region's amalgamation debate.

In the pamphlet, distributed to Napier homes, Mr McVicar outlines the policy and positions he and the Conservative Party hold on several issues, and compares them to the stance taken by his Labour opponent in the electorate, Stuart Nash.

The pamphlet said: "Labour voted with National to remove Napier's right to vote independently" on the amalgamation issue, a reference to the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill 2012 which removed the ability of individual communities to veto an amalgamation proposal.

As a result of the 2012 law change, an amalgamation proposal can only be defeated if a majority of voters in a poll across the entire region vote against it.


Mr Nash challenged Mr McVicar over his claim yesterday, saying Labour opposed the 2012 Bill, which was only supported on its third reading in Parliament by National, Act and United Future.

A check of Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary procedures, by Hawke's Bay Today, confirmed that was the case.

"In fact, only Labour has said that we will repeal the law that forces amalgamation and once again allow Napier to determine its own future," Mr Nash said in an open letter to Mr McVicar.

"If you are really against amalgamation then you will have to cross the floor -- in opposition to National and their allies -- to vote with me and Labour to change this law, because the National Party will not repeal their own legislation."

Mr McVicar yesterday acknowledged the statement about Labour's 2012 vote was wrong, but said he stood by a claim in the flyer that "the Labour Party has amalgamated far more local councils in its time than any other party".

He also accused Labour of being "confused on amalgamation" because the party's Tukituki candidate, Anna Lorck, supports the concept of merging Hawke's Bay's five local authorities while Mr Nash is strongly opposed to the idea.

Ms Lorck and Mr Nash have previously said they are united in their support for Labour's position that the veto option should be reinstated and their differing views on amalgamation are consistent with the party's stance that it is up to local communities to reach their own decision on the issue.

Mr McVicar's statements in the pamphlet were also challenged by former Labour Party president and Hawke's Bay Today opinion writer Mike Williams in a column published in today's paper.


As well as pointing out Mr McVicar's error over the 2012 Bill vote, Mr Williams picks up on his claim that Mr Nash supported anti-smacking legislation and that the flyer says Mr McVicar had "lived in the Napier district all his life".

"[Mr] Nash could not have voted to support the anti-smacking bill as Garth says. Stuart wasn't an MP at the time [2007]," Mr Williams said.

He said Mr McVicar had lived most of his life "at Te Pohue, up the Taupo Road".

Mr McVicar said, as an MP between 2008 and 2011, Mr Nash voted against a private member's bill which would have allowed light smacking.

He said he was born in Greenmeadows, lived in the Napier electorate and wanted to represent the entire electorate "whether it be Te Pohue, Taradale, Marewa, or Wairoa".