Monday, 1 June, 2009
A lamington smeared on a candidate’s head and a controversial comment about taking a gun to the media were the high-points of a political forum held at Unitec last week.
Unitec and the USU held the forum in The Hub last Monday where candidates for the Mt Albert by-election tried to convince the 30 or so students that showed up and the various committed party supporters why they should vote for them.
National List MP Melissa Lee, ACT list MP John Boscawen, Labour candidate David Shearer, and Green Co-leader Russel Norman spoke at the forum. The candidates were asked what they would be doing if they were not in politics, what they believed the big issues for Mt Albert residents were, and why they were running for the seat.
All candidates spoke about the Waterview Connection and the Super City. Ms Lee talked about law and order, Mr Boscawen talked about living standards in New Zealand, while Dr Norman spoke about roading and public transport.
In the midst of talking about the Super City, the ACT candidate’s bald head was smeared in lamington.
Frustrated People Before Profit by-election candidate Malcolm France surged forward from the crowd and slammed the cake on the ACT MP’s head. Mr Boscawen kept speaking with the cake on his head until someone came forward from the crowd and picked it off, to throw it back in Mr France’s face.
Later when the floor was open to questions from the audience, In Unison brought up a controversial email they had received from Melissa Lee.
The email was in response to some light-hearted hip-hop culture related questions for a profile. In response to which accessory she would prefer between a gun, a fur coat, a big diamond ring, or a grill, Ms Lee answered “I think a big diamond ring would be the most useful accessory during the rest of the by-election to knock some sense into the media (although a gun is tempting...)” At the forum In Unison asked Ms Lee why she had said she would like to take a gun to the media, when the media was only reporting on the things she had said.
Ms Lee denied writing the email and said she did not know what the question was about, she later told the magazine the email was unapproved. She said she had answered some of the questions in the email, but not the specific gun related one.
Ms Lee, who has already been under fire from controversial statements to the media, blamed an over-enthusiastic volunteer for sending the email.
National media took a liking to In Unison’s query, and the event was reported that night on TV3 News, as well as radio stations, Stuff.co.nz and The Herald.
Later that day, over-compensating for the “unauthorised” gun comment, one of Ms Lee’s media team sent through a new answer, which stated “I think an appropriately sourced fur coat would be handy for keeping warm with all the doorknocking I am doing. Something I could then donate to one of the groups in the electorate helping support those in need.”
In response to another question about grills, Ms Lee answered “All politicians need to know when to keep their mouths closed. So I have put my grill away for the rest of the campaign.’’
Time and headlines will surely tell if this last statement holds true.