6 Dec 2022

Hamilton West by-election: National, Labour candidates and Guarav Sharma vie for voters' tick

2:03 pm on 6 December 2022
Hamilton West National Party candidate Tama Potaka, Labour candidate Georgie Dansey, and Momentum NZ candidate Gaurav Sharma.

Hamilton West National Party candidate Tama Potaka, Labour candidate Georgie Dansey, and Momentum NZ candidate Gaurav Sharma. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith, Andrew McRae

Hamilton West voters will head to the polls this Saturday for the by-election triggered by former Labour MP Gaurav Sharma's resignation from Parliament in October.

Candidates have been campaigning for weeks but people were not rushing out to vote, despite heightened concern about crime and the cost of living.

Sharma was re-standing in the electorate as a candidate for Momentum NZ, Labour's candidate was Georgie Dansey, and National Party's candidate was Tama Potaka.

All three of those candidates spoke to Morning Report's Corin Dann to debate the big issues facing the area.

Morning Report invited ACT's James McDowall, who was also standing in for the electorate, to participate, but he declined.

The cost of living was a key issue, Sharma said, adding he would like GST taken off fruit and vegetables.

"When I was in caucus, one of the things that was repeatedly said was that the economy was going to get better, the cost of living crisis was going to get better at the start of the year, the middle of the year, and now next year, so there is no long-term plan."

Regardless of the outcome, he planned to continue in politics and Momentum NZ hope to have candidates running across the country, he said.

National's Potaka said the cost of living crisis needed to be tackled.

"Cost of living is probably the second most important issue after crime here for the hardworking people of Hamilton West. We're in an economic spiral downwards, a lot of spending by the Labour government and not a lot of outcomes," he said.

He predicted the average mortgage would likely cost $400 more per week next year.

The National Party supported wraparound services as part of its bootcamp proposal, Potaka said.

"We're supporting proven community, church and other providers who have proven results in their ability to deliver these types of support services for young people over a long period of time."

Labour's Dansey said she had been working hard in the electorate to combat low voter turnout.

The cost of living crisis was being addressed with different measures, Dansey said.

"We continue to look at solutions for people who need it the most. We have initiatives in place and we'll continue to work on those with the focus of ensuring that the cost of living burden is eased for our families."

Voting ends on Saturday evening.

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