Paula Bennett to seek Upper Harbour nomination
Thursday 21 Nov 2013 10:07 a.m.
Paula Bennett has sent a message from National to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig: if you contest the electorate of Upper Harbour, I'll eat you alive.
It is the first of what may be some complex maneuvering, as the new electoral boundaries that 3 News revealed last night, were today confirmed.
Ms Bennett's intention to stand in Upper Harbour means there will be no deal between the National Party and Mr Craig in the seat. That means a National-Conservatives deal is more likely in another seat - such as Murray McCully's East Coast Bays.
Ms Bennett's Waitakere seat has been restructured in today's boundary changes and becomes Kelston - a safe Labour seat.
She confirmed she would seek election in Upper Harbour electorate, but her focus will remain in west Auckland.
"We'll be running a strong campaign for National in Upper Harbour and west Auckland and I am seriously up for it.
"I have lived in Upper Harbour and have a real affinity for the area so it feels like a great fit."
She says it is important to clear up speculation about the proposed changes "and be upfront with the public".
That speculation was about Upper Harbour being the new Epsom and be gifted to Mr Craig, but Ms Bennett's decision to stand there shows National's strategists have decided against it.
Ms Bennett is one of National 's best performers and would not be put in a seat to lose like Paul Goldsmith in Epsom at the last election.
It means the more likely scenario is a deal in East Coast Bays - Mr McCully goes onto the National list, and weak candidate is put up with a nod given to National voters to vote for Mr Craig.