Northland a crucial election

by Andy Bryenton

The electoral seat of Northland, which comprises our own Kaipara district, may prove to be an important indicator of how power will be brokered after the general election, set by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for September 19. New Zealand First’s Shane Jones and National’s Matt King are picked as front runners to battle it out in the north.

An important factor in the race for Northland was the speculation by many that the Labour Party would orchestrate a deal here, similar to the one, which National has proffered in prior elections to the ACT Party in the seat of Epsom, Auckland. However, Prime Minister Ardern ruled this out on February 5, saying: “I didn’t do deals last election, I have no plans to do deals this election.”

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters won Northland in a 2015 by-election, only to lose it to incumbent National MP Matt King in the general election of 2017.

For 2020, the New Zealand First candidate for Northland is Shane Jones, who, along with Mr Peters, had toured the north during January to announce disbursements from his portfolio project, the Provincial Growth Fund. Matt King, however, has been quoted as saying: “I beat his boss, I beat Winston Peters — I’m up to the challenge.” Labour’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime has the full support of Prime Minister Ardern, who says: “you can bet” she will be running a campaign at full capacity, with no deal on the table.

Off the table, however, is a post-election alliance between the National Party and New Zealand First.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has stood by his statements categorically vetoing a partnership with Winston Peters and his party, as relations between the opposition and the coalition worsened at Waitangi celebrations last week. With New Zealand First polling below the five per cent MMP threshold, it may prove crucial for Shane Jones to win Northland to ensure his party’s political future.

That, in light of Bridges’ hard line, may make Northland a ‘battleground’ electorate, which determines the balance of power in a post-2020 parliament. The message from all parties? Get out and make your voice heard this September 19, and register now if you have not done so already.