Labour MP thanks National's teen candidate William Wood for 'speaking up' against attack ad

A Labour MP is thanking National's new teenage Palmerston North candidate for "speaking up" against his own party's attack ad in a Facebook comment. 

Michael Wood, Labour MP for Mt Roskill, said he found it "very interesting" that 17-year-old William Wood - announced as National's new candidate on Sunday - appeared to stand up for him in the comment.

William Wood, who just graduated from Palmerston North Boys High School, posted a comment questioning an attack ad that poked fun at Michael Wood and MP for New Lynn Deborah Russell discussing select committees.

"I don't entirely get the point of this attack ad..." the 17-year-old wrote on November 17. "They're just trying to help explain what the select committee process is which I think is a good thing coming from National or Labour..."

He told Newshub this week he was "simply a touch confused as to what the purpose [of the ad] was", adding that he "fully supports holding the Government to account and [has] no issue with the ad at all".

Michael Wood, Labour's Senior Whip, told Newshub he was grateful to the 17-year-old for expressing his views about the attack ad.

"I would say thank you to him," he said. "I obviously have a different political perspective but I would always encourage young people to be engaging in our political system."

He said it's good to see young people who have "a bit of courage in speaking up and doing so in a way that encourages others to get more involved... That's a good thing and good on him".

Wood said young people he's spoken to "quite enjoy a bit more of a discussion around issues that are partisan and maybe that's something the National Party would like to reflect upon".

The Labour MP accused National of "mocking New Zealanders because they're basically saying, 'you're too dumb to engage in a conversation around this stuff'" referring to the explainer video him and Russell filmed.

He said attack ads are "really off-putting to people who I would think we would all want to be engaging with politicians in the political system."

A National Party spokesperson told Newshub: "Michael Wood might want to get used to them. There are a lot more to come."

National's Palmerston North candidate William Wood.
National's Palmerston North candidate William Wood. Photo credit: Supplied

National leader Simon Bridges told Rural Exchange on Friday 17-year-old Wood has "got a lot of publicity" and that National has "energy and momentum" going into the 2020 election.

Labour's Wood told Newshub it's a good thing more young people are being represented in Parliament. The current youngest MP is 25-year-old Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

"Ultimately, young people have got more life ahead of them and have more at stake than anyone else in terms of the decisions that we're making," Wood said.

"I will say being an MP is a heck of a tough job and you need some resilience, so I think getting into Parliament with life experience probably is important, but I wouldn't say that to discourage anyone from looking at running."

Russell, MP for New Lynn, told Newshub she finds it "a little odd" that the National Party "spends so much time and energy making personal attacks".

She said National's Palmerston North candidate "was right to call them out".

Michael Wood and Deborah Russell in the video.
Michael Wood and Deborah Russell in the video. Photo credit: Facebook

Russell featured in another National Party attack ad earlier this year which led to a political showdown between Bridges and House Speaker Trevor Mallard.

The Speaker ordered the ad to be taken down because it featured footage of Russell speaking in the House, used without her permission, which is against the current rules.

Bridges refused to remove the ads at first, which led the Speaker to limit the Opposition Leader's questions in Parliament.

Bridges eventually agreed to remove the videos, and the Standing Orders Committee has since been meeting to discuss reviewing the rules around the use of Parliament TV footage.

Michael Wood said it's time for politicians to "think a little bit more about how we engage with people in what we do instead of just going so hard on the point-scoring stuff".