|Lindsey Rea, a City Vision candidate for the Eden/Albert ward in last weekend's local body elections, looks at how Auckland gays and lesbians ended up with the man who may be their Mayor From Hell.
Reason 1 Half the population did not vote. Reason 2 Matt McCarten wants to be the next MP for Auckland Central. Reason 3 A well funded campaign boost for Banks by the big business/big roads lobby. Reason 4 Chris Fletcher ran a "nice girl's campaign" but she wasn't up against nice girls. She joins Jenny Shipley in the backlash against women on top. Matt McCarten seems to have planned this campaign well in advance. Evidence, the Alliance's nearly unreadable billboards about traffic congestion which went up on most of the public sites in prime positions two days in advance of the official deadline and just happened to be the right size to be replaced by the "Matt for Mayor" ones. Deputy Mayor at the time Bruce Hucker consulted the City Vision campaign group about whether he should stand for Mayor about a week before the nominations closed. The vote was solid that he should not. The reasons were about timing, logistics of re-opening nominations for his Council candidacy and a fear of a three way race putting Banks into the Mayoral robes and chain. Matt McCarten didn't consult City Vision, even though the Alliance is a partner with Labour and centre left community people in the City Vision political organisation. Formed 4 years ago, City Vision was successful 3 years ago in breaking the 40 year stranglehold of Citizens and Ratepayers on Auckland City. Thanks to City Vision, in the last 3 years the City Council has not been able to sell publicly owned assets, has moved on public transport and has been a lot friendlier to gay organisations. Matt was much more interested in slagging Fletcher than Banks and promoted Banks in a number of subtle and not so subtle ways. The "Wedding Photo" advertisements, for example, had a picture of Banks that knocked 10 years off his age and added 10cm to his height. The Bays and Remuera Times of 10 October had a front page headline, "McCarten waves Banks' banner at fiery forum" and described Matt as a "one man cheerleading team for John Banks". Although his last week campaign posters said that only he could beat Banks, the reverse was true as the Sunday Star Times poll, (and the final results) demonstrated. Watch for a continuance of McCarten's attacks on Judith Tizard for pointers to his real intentions. Sandra Lee has got over losing Auckland Central to Tizard in 1996 after taking it from Richard Prebble in 1993 but other Alliance people like McCarten who were badly treated by Prebble in that electorate for years have not. With the Alliance at a low point in the Polls, the Matt for Mayor campaign is as much about general politics as it is about local body politics. To add to the tragedy, (barring changes from special votes) there is now a far right majority on Council. How did this happen? A lot of the answer is green. Watch for the next episode. Lindsey Rea - 18th October 2001