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Two young men pitch battle tents in Botany

Although it has ‘National’ written all over it, the Botany Electorate could well become a trendsetter for young aspirants in politics.

Twenty-five-year-old Jamie Lee-Ross of National is set to become the youngest Parliamentarian as National Party candidate and his opponent, Michael Wood (Labour) at 28, would not be far behind.

The selection of Mr Ross could have upset many other hopefuls within the Party. Ram Rai, a long-serving official of National (currently its Northern Region Deputy Chair and Mt Roskill Electorate Deputy Chair) was considered an ideal candidate with his political maturity and experience in community work but was inexplicably missing from the short-list.

Aaron Bhatnagar, an active player in the recently held Auckland Mayoral election also failed to gain the electorate approval.

However, popular broadcaster Maggie Barry, who was confident of being selected by National (and obtain a Party waiver, since she does not fully comply with rules for nomination) would have been suffered the worst disappointment.

But Party President Peter Goodfellow said he was sure Ms Barry will stay in the Party and seek selection somewhere else.

Mr Ross is not new to public life. He is the Co-Leader of the Citizens & Rate Payers and was elected to the Howick Ward of the Auckland Council in the recent local body elections. This Ward includes the suburbs of Botany Downs, Howick and Pakuranga, and serves as C&R’s co-leader.

Mr Wood is equally popular in the area but Botany is a weak seat for Labour.

As Union organiser, he is known among a wider circle of the electorate.

Labour Party President Andrew Little said that Mr Wood was one of the two “excellent nominees,” chosen after a rigorous selection process.

Like his National opponent, Mr Wood is also an elected member of Puketapapa Local Board and a former Labour candidate for Pakuranga in the 2002 and 2005 General Elections.

As well as a Union negotiator for the Finance Sector Union, he plays an active role in the Anglican Church.

“Michael considers himself to be a fairly traditional social democrat, believing that free-markets deliver outcomes that are efficient, but neither democratic nor equitable on the whole. Markets must therefore be a tool of humanity rather than a master. This requires an active role for the state in managing human affairs,” a Labour Party statement said.

The by-election is scheduled to be held on March 5, subsequent to the resignation of Pansy Wong from Parliament. In the first instance, she resigned her ministerial posts of Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs in November 2010, following allegations of misuse of travel perks (more so by her husband Sammy Wong). She later gave up her Parliamentary post stating that she wanted to ensure that the National-led Government could progress its agenda without unnecessary distractions.”


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