Mount Albert by-election, 2009

Mount Albert by-election, 2009
Mount Albert by-election, 2009
New Zealand
2008 general ←
13 June 2009 (2009-06-13)
→ 2011 general

Turnout 20,943 (c. 60.8%)
  DavidShearer3.JPG Melissa Lee 1.jpg
Candidate David Shearer Melissa Lee
Party Labour National
Popular vote 13,260 3,542
Percentage 63.31% 16.91%

  Russel Norman.jpg John Boscawen1.jpg
Candidate Russel Norman John Boscawen
Party Green ACT
Popular vote 2,567 968
Percentage 12.26% 4.62%

Mt albert electorate 2008.png

Member before election

Helen Clark

Elected Member

David Shearer

A by-election was held in the New Zealand electorate of Mount Albert on 13 June 2009.[1] There were fifteen candidates in the election.[2] David Shearer of the Labour Party won the election with 63% of the vote. The seat was vacated by former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark, who resigned from the New Zealand Parliament on 17 April 2009[3] following her appointment to head the United Nations Development Programme. Main issues surrounding the campaign included the building of the Waterview Connection and the Auckland Region becoming a supercity.[4]



The Mount Albert electorate is based around the neighbourhoods of western and central Auckland City. It includes the suburbs of Point Chevalier, Kingsland, Avondale, Waterview, as well as the eponymous Mount Albert. It has been held by the New Zealand Labour Party since its creation in 1946; Helen Clark was its representative from 1981 until 2009 and enjoyed a large majority in Mt Albert, winning 59% of the electorate vote in the 2008 election while Labour only won 42% of the party vote.[5] Prior to the election, National had 58 seats in the House of Representatives, Labour had 42, Green had 9, ACT had 5, Māori had 5, Progressive had 1, and United Future had 1. Labour had lost one seat since the general election, as a result of the resignation of Clark, which caused the by-election.

Key dates

The key dates for the by-election are as follows:[6]

  • Writ Day – Monday 11 May
  • Nominations Open – Tuesday 12 May
  • Nominations Day – Tuesday 19 May
  • Advance Voting start – Wednesday 27 May
  • Election – Saturday 13 June
  • Official Results – Thursday 25 June
  • Returns of Writs – Tuesday 30 June


Mount Albert by-election, 2009

Notes: Green background denotes the winner of the by-election.
Pink background denotes a candidate elected from their party list prior to the by-election.
Yellow background denotes the winner of the by-election, who was a list MP prior to the by-election.
A Green tickY or Red XN denotes status of any incumbent, win or lose respectively.

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour David Shearer 13,260 63.49 +4.20
National Melissa Leea 3,542 16.96 -11.88
Green Russel Normana 2,567 12.29 +6.35
ACT John Boscawena 968 4.63 +0.54
Bill and Ben Ben Boyce 158 0.76
Legalise Cannabis Dakta Green 92 0.44
Kiwi Simonne Dyer 91 0.44
United Future Judy Turner 89 0.43
Libertarianz Julian Pistorius 39 0.19
Independent Jim Bagnell 24 0.11
Independent Ari Baker 15 0.07
Human Rights Anthony Van den Heuvel 13 0.06
People Before Profit Malcom France 13 0.06
Independent Jackson James Wood 9 0.04
People's Choice Rusty Kane 5 0.02
Informal votes 58
Total Valid votes 20,885
Labour hold Majority 9,718 46.40 +4.02

a Three candidates were list MPs elected at the 2008 election.


There were fifteen candidates in total.[2]

David Shearer (Labour)

A billboard with a red background, and white font reading 'David Shearer'. Below that reads 'Putting Mt Albert first'. At the bottom '' is written. To the right is a man with balding brown hair, smiling, and in a white shirt with a black jacket
A billboard for David Shearer

Former UN Deputy Special Representative and 2002 candidate for Whangarei David Shearer won the Labour nomination from a field of eight candidates including lawyer Helen White and Auckland City councillor Glenda Fryer.[8]

Shortly after his selection, media attention focused on articles he wrote for Foreign Affairs and World Today (in 1998 and 2001 respectively) arguing for the use and regulation of private military companies by Western governments for peacekeeping missions where they are unwilling to contribute troops.[9] This was at odds with the position of Labour Party Leader and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff.[10]

National Party Leader and Prime Minister John Key said this was "a hypocritical position" because Labour claimed during 2008's election campaign that National had a secret privatisation agenda.[11]

Media speculation prior to the selection suggested that the Labour Party nomination would go to then-current list MP Phil Twyford. Twyford announced that he would not seek the seat on 21 April. This followed media reports that the Labour Party was unwilling to allow Twyford's list place to be taken by defeated Auckland Central MP Judith Tizard.[12]

Melissa Lee (National)

A billboard with a blue background. In white font, up the top of the board is written 'On 13 June, Make Lee Your Local MP' below which is a ticked box, and the words 'Melissa Lee'. Beneath that 'Mount Albert' is written. In the bottom-right corner is the word 'National' with red stars in the southern cross formation at the top-right of the 'N'. To the very left of the billboard is a Korean woman wearing a black shirt.
A billboard for Melissa Lee

First-term list MP Melissa Lee beat 2008 candidate Ravi Masuku for the National Party nomination on 5 May.[13]

Lee faced allegations that her production company Asia Vision had spent New Zealand on Air money making a promotional video for the National Party ahead of the 2008 election. Lee called the allegations "ridiculous", saying that all work on the video was done on a voluntary basis. New Zealand on Air investigated and cleared Lee of any misconduct. The Green Party complained to the Electoral Commission, saying that the video should have been declared as an election expense.[14]

If Lee had won the by-election, the next (58th) person on the National Party list – Conway Powell – would have become a list MP, as Lee was already a list MP.

note: originally Cam Calder would have been the next list MP, but the day before the election (12 June) list MP Dr Richard Worth resigned from parliament over sexual allegations,[15] so Calder became an MP regardless.[16]

Russel Norman (Green)

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was the only nomination from his party and was the first candidate from a party then in Parliament to declare his candidacy. In 2008, he stood in Rongotai, finishing third with 15.84% of the vote.[17]

If Norman had won the by-election, the next (10th) person on the Green Party list – David Clendon – would have become a list MP, as Norman was already a list MP.

John Boscawen (ACT)

ACT selected list MP John Boscawen on 2 May. In the 2008 election, Boscawen ran in the seat of North Shore, coming fourth with 4% of the vote.[18]

If Boscawen had won the by-election, the next (6th) person on the ACT list – Hilary Calvert – would have become a list MP, as Boscawen was already a list MP.

Judy Turner (United Future)

United Future party president and former MP (2002–2008) Judy Turner was announced as her party's candidate on 14 May.[19] In 2008, Turner stood in the East Coast seat, coming fifth with 3.3 percent of the vote.

Other candidates

Ben Boyce

Ben Boyce is the second half of the comedy duo Bill and Ben. They stood on a "no policies, no promises, no disappointment" platform in 2008 and out-polled all other minor parties.

Simonne Dyer

Businesswoman Simonne Dyer was selected by The Kiwi Party on 4 May. In 2008 she was her party's candidate for Rodney, where she finished second to last with 1.55% of the vote.[20]

Dakta Green

Former National Party chair of the Pakuranga electorate Dakta Green was selected as the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate on 2 May.[21] Green had been arrested a number of times in the campaign for drugs offences. In response, Green has alleged police harassment and political interference in his campaign.[22]

Julian Pistorius

Julian Pistorius was a 32 year old computer programmer and former deputy leader of Libertarianz.[23]

Jackson Wood

Jackson Wood is the current editor of Victoria University student magazine Salient. He announced his independent candidacy on 21 April, being the first person to do so. He campaigned from Wellington, instead of Auckland,[24] save for an open-invite slingshot battle on top of Mount Albert on 6 June, which he has invited all other candidates to attend.[25]

Malcolm France

Climaction coordinator. France's policies include:[26]

  • Civil disobedience against motorway
  • No supercity
  • $15 minimum wage.

France smeared a chocolate lamington cake on ACT candidate Boscawen in protest of the supercity. [27] [28] [29]

Rusty Kane

Advocates binding citizens initiated referendums.[30][31]

Anthony van den Heuvel

Van den Heuvel is of the Human Rights Party.

Jim Bagnall

Bagnall contested the election for the Union of Fathers.[32]

Ari Baker

Independent candidate


Waterview Connection

A main issue in the campaign was the "Waterview Connection" – the connection of the Southwestern motorway at Mount Roskill with the Northwestern motorway at the suburb of Waterview, on the northern edge of the seat.

Transit New Zealand announced in 2008 (during the last year of the Fifth Labour Government) that its preferred option was for a two-lane tunnel costed at NZ$1.97 billion. The final cost of NZ$3.1 billion cited by the National Government included an expansion to a three-lane tunnel, upgrades to connecting roads and financing costs.[33]

In May 2009, National's Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced that he was "not comfortable" with this cost, preferring a surface option costing NZ$1.1 billion.[34] Although this option is over a billion dollars cheaper, the plan will require the demolition of 365 houses along the route in addition to the ones required for the tunnel option.[35]

Labour called the option "second class" and that the decision was dismissive of the wishes of the people of Mount Albert.[36] Green Party candidate Russel Norman described the plan as "better than the worst of all options", but added that the best anti-congestion investment would be public transport.[37] National's candidate Melissa Lee backed the surface option, saying that the decision would bring certainty to the area. She also suggests that the tunnel option was "unaffordable".[38] Meanwhile, Independent candidate Jackson Wood proposed a series of zeppelins to carry cars without the need for any construction.[39]

Melissa Lee was widely criticised for claiming that the SH20 Waterview Connection would stop criminals from South Auckland committing crime in Mt Albert.[40][41] Her party leader John Key called her comments "stupid" and Lee later apologised.[42]

This happens..... people coming in from South Auckland get to Mount Albert, right?...and the thing it's like, hopefully, we could divert some of that traffic and criminals away from Mount Albert...
—Melissa Lee, TVNZ News[43]

Auckland governance

The governance of the Auckland Region was another issue that was raised in the by-election campaign. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance released its report at the end of March and the ruling National Party outlined its plans before campaigning began.

Labour did not support the current legislation relating to the supercity, and filibustered on the weekend of 15–18 May 2009, by proposing about 1000 amendments to the legislation, as the government was not sending it to the select committee process, and that a referendum was not being held for Aucklanders to decide whether a supercity was wanted.[44] [45]


  • Unitec
  • Auckland University
  • Plunket
  • Public Service Association
  • Combined Churches (Ecumenical Group) of Mt Albert
  • Bfm
  • NiuFM/531PI
  • Radio Live


David Shearer and Melissa Lee were interviewed by Paul Holmes on TVNZ's show on Sunday, 10 May.[46] On Sunday, 7 June, Russel Norman and John Boscawen were interviewed on the show.[47]

Back Benches

On Wednesday, 10 June, John Boscawen, Melissa Lee, Russel Norman, David Shearer and Judy Turner (the candidates from five main parties) appeared on the TVNZ show Back Benches.[48] This episode was filmed and aired on 10 June, and was reshown on 12 June, on the channel TVNZ7.


Party Candidate ONE News/Colmar Brunton–released 7 June[49][50][51] TV3/Reid–released 10 June[52][53]
Labour David Shearer 59% 61.7%
National Melissa Lee 21% 20.6%
Green Russel Norman 15% 13%
ACT John Boscawen 3.3% 3.6%
Others 1.7% 1.1%
Sample 500 750
Margin of error 4.4% 3.6%

Shearer's huge majority meant that a low turnout was predicted, because voters may have felt that the result was inevitable.[50][54] Actual turnout was 20,943, a 41% decrease on that of the 2008 general election.[55]

See also


  1. ^ "Date set for Mt Albert by-election". The New Zealand Herald. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Mt Albert by-election candidates named". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Young, Audrey (18 April 2009). "Haere ra Helen and Heather". 
  4. ^ Norman, Russel (10 May 2009). "The muscle to protect Mount Albert’s services". Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Official Count Results – Mt Albert". NZ Chief Electoral Office. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  6. ^ New Zealand Government (20 April 2009). "Mt Albert by-election date announced". Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "Official Count Results – Mt Albert". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2009. 
  8. ^ Young, Audrey (27 April 2009). "Goff thinks fresh face has winning edge". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  9. ^ Shearer, David (Fall 1998). "Outsourcing War". Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "Labour Names David Shearer As Mt Albert Candidate". New Zealand Press Association. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  11. ^ New Zealand Press Association (28 April 2009). "Labour accuses National of by-election dirty tricks". Stuff. New Zealand. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  12. ^ Gower, Patrick (22 April 2009). "Twyford's list decision closes door on Tizard". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  13. ^ Watkins, Tracy (5 May 2009). "Nats Pick Lee for Mt Albert". Dominion Post. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Kay, Martin (15 May 2009). "Lee gaffe sets her poll chances back". Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  15. ^ Young, Audrey (12 June 2009). "Worth's exit the best decision". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  16. ^ Gower, Patrick (3 July 2009). "Sex allegation against Worth withdrawn". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Norman sets sights on Mt Albert". 30 April 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  18. ^ ACT New Zealand (2 May 2009). "Strong Message is Needed for Change". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  19. ^ United Future New Zealand (14 May 2009). "Judy Turner standing for United Future in Mt Albert". Retrieved 14 May 2009. 
  20. ^ The Kiwi Party (4 May 2009). "Candidate for Mt Albert selected by Kiwi Party". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  21. ^ Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (2 May 2009). "Stop the Arrests – vote Dakta Green". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  22. ^ "ALCP: State Interference in By-Election" (Press release). Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  23. ^ "Libz Announce Candidate For Mt Albert". Scoop. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2009. 
  24. ^ "Jackson James Wood for Mount Albert". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  25. ^ Jackson Wood (5 May 2009). "Wood challenges candidates". Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  26. ^ "People before Profit against Motorways and the Man" (Press release). Malcolm France. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  27. ^ "ACT candidate smeared with Cake at by-election debate". The New Zealand Herald. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT:Lemington Steal". Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  29. ^ "3 News > Video > Politics > Lamington attack interrupts Mt Albert debate" (video). 3 News. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  30. ^ "Rusty Kane: The Full Interview" (Press release). Rusty Kane. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  31. ^ Rusty Kane (26 June 2009). "Rusty referenda". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 7 February 2010. [dead link]
  32. ^ "15 candidates to contest Mt Albert by-election". Radio New Zealand. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  33. ^ Transit New Zealand. "Transit – Waterview Connection". Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  34. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (31 January 2009). "Cost blowout threatens tunnel plan". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  35. ^ Dearnaley, Matthew (14 May 2009). "Western ring route dooms 365 houses". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  36. ^ New Zealand Labour Party (12 May 2009). "Lee isolated on Waterview option". Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  37. ^ "Emotions run high at Waterview Motorway Connection meeting". One News. Television New Zealand. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  38. ^ Field, Michael; New Zealand Press Association (13 May 2009). "Mt Albert tunnel plan dropped". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  39. ^ "Jackson Wood Floats New Solution To Waterview" (Press release). Jackson Wood. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  40. ^ "MP: Motorway would keep South Auckland criminals out". The New Zealand Herald. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  41. ^ "Political gaffes leave Melissa Lee's campaign in tatters". 3 News. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  42. ^ "Manukau mayor accepts Lee's apology". The New Zealand Herald. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  43. ^ Newstalk ZB and New Zealand Press Association (14 May 2010). "Lee steps into another controversy". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  44. ^ "Labour filibuster on Supercity bills". Stuff. New Zealand. Friday 15 May 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  45. ^ "Super City filibuster is beaten at last << Alf Grumble". 17 May 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  46. ^ "Mt Albert candidates David Shearer and Melissa Lee" (video). Sunday, 10 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  47. ^ "Mt Albert candidates Russel Norman and John Boscawen" (video). 7 June 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  48. ^ "Back Benches Episode 19, Series 2009" (video). 10 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009. 
  49. ^ "Labour well ahead in Mt Albert". ONE News (Television New Zealand). 7 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  50. ^ a b "Labour well ahead in Mt Albert" (video). ONE News. Television New Zealand. Sunday 7 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  51. ^ "Mt. Albert (By-Election) Electorate Poll". ONE News/Colmar Brunton. Television New Zealand. 7 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  52. ^ "David Shearer to win Mt Albert seat". 3 News (TV3). 10 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  53. ^ "Labour's Shearer strolling to by-election win in Mt Albert: Poll". The New Zealand Herald. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  54. ^ Young, Audrey (8 June 2009). "Grim poll result caps bad week for Nats". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  55. ^ "Mt Albert: Electoral Profile". Parliamentary Library. 26 August 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 

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