About time too. National has been sitting on the fence for far too long. Maybe it was waiting to see if Crone, an unknown in political terms, had the right stuff. Bennett’s interjection suggests they’ve decided she has, and will now back her.
Bennett backs Crone mayoral bid
In a clear display of support, National MP Paula Bennett has been spotted having lunch with one of the front-runners for the Auckland mayoralty.
She was spotted yesterday with candidate Victoria Crone at Ponsonby's Prego restaurant where she confirmed they'd met to "conspire on a good campaign".
While declaring her strong support for Ms Crone's campaign, the MP stopped short of declaring her presence was an official party endorsement.
"I totally support Vic ... on a personal level and we don't have an official sort of National stance, but I know she's got heaps of support right throughout."
Ms Crone is up against Labour's Phil Goff - who has more than 30 years' political experience on her.
Nevertheless Ms Bennett said the businesswoman was the person to take the city into the future.
"I so just care passionately about the leadership of this great city, I've been wanting someone to believe in and I found someone to believe in."
Ms Crone in turn expressed her gratitude to the MP for her support and guidance.
"To learn a few tricks of the trade from Paula is going to be immensely helpful," she said. "It's fantastic to be able to catch up and as I say get some tips and check in."
Over lunch the pair planned to talk politics and set clear goals and strategies for the mayoral campaign.
Ms Bennett said she'd be backing Ms Crone all the way.
"You've got to back someone and get in behind them. So I'm really keen to help in the campaign sense in any way I can."
Yet even now National cannot bring itself to apply the scalpel.
The truth is, it doesn’t know how. It has allowed these tic bites to become infected all over its body. It has even introduced new species of tic to breed unabated. Local government has been given to tribal interests to play with to their hearts content through the main legislation underpinning the sector, the Resource Management Act. The unelected iwi tic is now taking huge bites out of local democracy causing even more sources of festering resentment.
Meanwhile, there is no such problem in the tic world. The Labour tic called Brown fed so rapaciously on Auckland’s life blood that it became bloated and burst only to be replaced by the Goff tic. The Goff tic is already searching for new ways to suck the life blood out of Auckland. It has set its sights on big spending items like a new waterfront stadium, moving Auckland port, a billion dollar light right system to the airport.
Best of all the Labour tic has enticed its host into paying for the Brown tics vanity project, the City Rail Link, and so the Goff tic thinks it can do the same.
In other words National is being eaten alive in the local government area because it thought, and to a large extent still thinks, local government doesn’t matter. But it does.
Belatedly, National’s big guns are entering the fray. Paula Bennett, ranked #5 in National party hierarchy, has jumped off the fence and is supporting Victoria Crone. It is a clear sign the party wants other National candidates to step aside and back Crone’s bid. It signals to Cameron Brewer, ‘don’t even think about it’ and to Mark Thomas ‘get out of the way’.
National has made its first incision in the Auckland boil with Bennett's intervention. Now it needs to squeeze out the puss and apply some salve so that the red blotches disappear completely.
I hope they will, because a house divided against itself cannot stand.