The Gay Auckland Business Association last night hosted a candidates meeting at Auckland's Birdcage Hotel. Unsurprisingly, no Density or United candidate put their heads into the lion's den, but seven other candidates did.
All seven came across as nice people, but all but one were selling snake oil. Actually, all but one were nice: the exception was sitting Auckland Central MP and Minister in Charge of Helen Clark's Hand-Bag Judith Tizard, who bared her teeth when I asked her when Labour were going to stop putting their hand in my pocket to pay for their social programmes. "I'm sick of that argument," she snarled, "that taxation is theft." Good. It's one she's going to keep hearing. Tax apparently is the price I'm paying to be in civilization, and my tax has paid for her cancer treatment, so I'm just being selfish. So there you go.
Winston First's Susan Baragwanath was nice, and sharp, and clearly in the wrong party. She undertook if elected to persuade NZ First's bigots of the error of their ways. Good luck. She did however buy a Free Radical, so she does at least have the ammunition to help her in that task.
Andrew Bates from the Libertarianz told the audience that government should stay out of the boardroom, and out of the bedroom--a message that was well received. Less well received was the message that Libz have eight pages worth of departments and ministries that should be gone by lunchtime. Oh well. He did sign up two new Libz members who they said "had never heard anything like it." As we often say, people are deluded en masse, and enlightened two at a time... or something like that.
National's Pansy Wong was feisty but evasive. The good: New Zealanders needs to get government out of their lives. Woh! The bad: The best answers apparently appear on a postcard, she said. Hmmm. Nandor didn't have answers that would fit on a postcard, and despite trying to bore for Britain got the biggest hand of the night. Oh well.
Rodney Hide didn't win the night, but he did have the two best moments. Regressive candidate Trevor Barnard claimed he "felt the odd one out, I suspect I'm the only gay candidate up here." Shot back Rodney: "I haven't made my mind up yet." Asked later if he's seen Don Brash recently, he said he sees him often. "Not on TV," challenged his interlocutor. "Said Rodney: "I bet you do lots of things too, Sir that don't appear on television." "Not for want of trying."
Rodney was less light-footed when asked how he could call his party 'socially liberal' and the 'freedom party' when so many of his MPs voted against the Civil Union Bill. No answer. Rodney left early.
Independent candidate Thomas Forde (that's him above) finished the night with a graphic demonstration of what gives Winston Peters pleasure: he brought the house down. Come along to his bar Forde's Frontbench ("Auckland's answer to Wellington's Backbencher Pub" he claims) at 3pm on Sunday for the next Auckland Central instalment, at which I'll be putting my hand up for Libz.