So Melissa Lee is now a household name…

by Jake Quinn

… and if she can’t win Mt Albert next month is she well placed to win another, ‘blue-er chip’ seat in the future? Another way of putting this is, ‘has the media destroyed her credibility as a candidate, or have they made highly visible a public image that she can mould in her favour in years to come’?

I might be getting a bit carried away, but hear me out. She is now ‘famous’ for a few reasons; all of which offended (or aroused, so to speak) the left and the media but none of which will have offended her core constituency (the National Party voter). Here’s why:  

1) She said she’d rather an over land option for the SH20 Waterview Connection. This offends: Labour (who proposed and support the underground twin tunnel option); those near the motorways path (whose houses will be bulldozed); or those offended by motorways in general (like the Greens). Giving her generous servings of benefit of the doubt, it shows that she is willing to put an unpopular opinion ahead of appeasing the electorate (by refusing to engage in pork barrel politics). The less generous serving of benefit of the doubt has her totally ill-informed of her party’s position and just taking a stab in the dark, or worse yet, her shedding light on the party’s initial position as discussed in Caucus.

2) She said the motorway could divert criminals from South Auckland away from Mt Albert. Putting aside the logistical issues with this interpretation of how motorways function, this is not a very sensitive thing to say – it can be easily construed as racist as the population of South Auckland is highly Maori and Pasifika. Furthermore, it (that criminals come from South Auckland) may be totally untrue (the criminals could be coming from Hamilton East). However, it is unlikely that this comment offended the many National Party voters who probably took it as a throw away remark or alternatively, believe it (or would like to think it) to be true.