The Rotorua Daily Post asked the region's seven election candidates for their views on the recent publication of the book Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager. Were they surprised at its content and do they think it's an election game changer?
New Zealand First candidate for Rotorua Fletcher Tabuteau:
This book serves as a warning to those who would presume to work for the people of New Zealand. We as a nation should expect a higher standard of integrity from our leaders and I was surprised by the severity of some of the content. I think this book and the subsequent release of e-mails authenticating the content does prove wrongdoing. The attacks have clearly been undertaken for the objective of gaining political advantage. This book, unfortunately, uncovers a truth that has heralded a very dark day for New Zealand politics and all New Zealanders. We deserve better.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay: Dirty Politics needs to be seen for what it is, another orchestrated smear campaign launched just before an election, and no matter who's in power it aims to destabilise and sell more books. It's designed to detract from the real issues that voters deserve a say on. This week the Treasury announced that New Zealand is on track to Budget surplus, backed by good growth, more jobs and higher incomes under National's economic programme. I'm focused on what matters to Rotorua families and people including protecting vulnerable children and better education, improved healthcare and safer communities, clean lakes and economic development which leads to higher wages and more local jobs.
Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell: I can't comment on the book because I haven't read it. But what I do know is that there are individuals across the political spectrum in New Zealand that engage in dirty politics. It's not something that the Maori Party has ever done or condones. Manaakitanga (respecting and looking after others) is one of our foundational values and we have always conducted ourselves in a way that reflects this principle. We're interested in party policies and how we can work with others to effect change. The hacking of emails is not a new phenomenon but it compromises the interactions between MPs and constituents and is a breach of privacy. In that regard we are deeply disturbed.
Labour Party candidate for Rotorua Tamati Coffey: The NZ Herald Digi Poll out [Thursday] shows support for John Key has taken a big hit. The National Party have based their Team Key campaign around his brand, which is absolutely at risk if New Zealanders are being lied to. For that reason, this book is a game changer. We teach our kids how to be honest and how bullying isn't acceptable, so why are John Key and his ministers exempt? Labour will keep our heads high, running a positive campaign with strong policies around jobs, houses and families. To view our policies, visit labour.org.nz.
Labour Party candidate for Waiariki Rawiri Waititi: Dirty Politics - I don't care. Putting my energy into worrying about the claims in Nicky Hager's book, whether legitimate or not, will not get our people in Waiariki any closer to the good life they so deserve. I have an electorate to focus on and an election to win. One thing is certain, regardless of the book - we need to change the Government and Waiariki needs a stronger voice that only a major party can provide. Hoki mai ki te paati Reipa.
Mana Movement candidate for Waiariki Annette Sykes: The country has now endured over a week of Dirty Politics and it has derailed the National Party campaign. I am mortified at the content. The book is the stuff of a sleazy movie and marks a new low for New Zealand politics. Our country would be well served by voting out this Government that condones this type of unethical behaviour. Without doubt Nicky Hager's brilliant expose on the inner workings of the National Party is becoming a political game changer and could very well result in a new government being elected in one month's time.
New Zealand Independent Coalition candidate for Waiariki Pat Spellman: After reading the book, I honestly can't say I was surprised, because the contents of this book make up the unfortunate architecture of mainstream politics. It's less about us as a people, and more about interest groups that bankroll these mainstream parties. For Waiariki this book changes nothing. Our people don't care about Dirty Politics. They care about clean lakes, streams and rivers. The Waiariki don't care about Whaleoil - they care about the cost of oil, as it pertains to the cost of petrol they use in their car. Politics will always be dirty. The living standards of the Waiariki don't have to be.
*Since this article was compiled two more candidates have entered the Rotorua race - Act's Lyall Russell and the Conservatives' Michael Davidson.