On the final day to officially register candidates for the Mt Albert by-election, The Opportunities Party (TOP) has today announced they will contest the seat, standing Geoff Simmons as their first political candidate.
Simmons is an economist and has been acting as Chief of Staff for the party. Previously he was General Manager of The Morgan Foundation, co-authoring research into New Zealand’s public health, our fisheries, the food we eat, and the poor state of our rivers and waterways. Radio New Zealand listeners may know him from his fortnightly “Geoffonomics” spot on Jesse Mulligan 1-4pm.
TOP Leader, Gareth Morgan, says he was pushed to consider running a candidate when National made the poor decision not to stand anyone.
“Mt Albert is not a pass-the-parcel,” he says. “National is just sitting it out in Wellington with their heads down, flat out scared to talk about the problems up here like explosive population growth, the filthy beaches and the runaway house prices, among other things.
So, Labour and The Greens get to just chat among themselves? It’s not on, it’s lazy leadership and that’s hardly offering Mt Albert people any choice.”
Morgan says the issues facing the people in the Mt Albert electorate are the same issues we are facing as a country and they need to be discussed, especially with the general election just 10 months away.
“We’re trying to bring some real debate and real choice into this by-election,” says Morgan. “Yes, Labour has held this seat for a long time but we think there’s no such thing as a safe seat anymore. Besides, there’s too much at stake to be backing the same old parties.”
Simmons believes the lack of leadership by the National government and by departing Labour MP for Mt Albert, David Shearer, on immigration, infrastructure and housing has left the door wide open for someone who is willing to tackle the issues.
“I grew up around Mt Albert and the way this place has changed while the politicians just stand still is mind-blowing,” says Simmons. “It has become politics over people.”
Simmons says both candidates for Labour and The Greens are already in parliament so if they win it’s meaningless for the people of Mt Albert.
“If Labour or the Greens win, someone else from their party list just gets to come into parliament and take up a well-paid government job. There’s no change of influence,” he says. “What a waste of time for Mt. Albert.”
“I want to work with the government, whoever they are, on the issues that matter for Mt. Albert. We want to force a serious response to the problems up here. I mean, there’s raw poo going into the Waitemata Harbour. This is our biggest city and we don’t even have 21st century infrastructure. It’s a total failure by the people we pay to watch over us.”
The by-election is set down for February 25.