The gloves are off between the parties of the left in the Mt Albert byelection, with Greens co-leader and candidate Russel Norman dismissing Labour's flag-bearer, David Shearer, as a "grey machine man" and "National-lite."
Labour selected Mr Shearer yesterday from a field of eight to be its candidate in the June 13 byelection for the Mt Albert seat vacated by Helen Clark.
In his 50s, he is a high-level humanitarian aid manager for the United Nations and was an adviser to Labour leader Phil Goff from 2000 to 2002 during his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The other nominees included business studies lecturer Hamish McCracken, Auckland City councillor Glenda Fryer, politics tutor Meg Bates and employment lawyer Helen White.
Mr Shearer's links to Mr Goff meant he was regarded as the preferred candidate.
Dr Norman played up the link, saying it meant he himself was the only "progressive" candidate on offer.
"The right of the party - the Goff faction - have got their man. Labour have chosen the grey machine man. I'm sure he's a very nice guy, but it means we've got National versus National-lite versus the Greens."
Now those are pretty strong words from the normally mild-mannered Russel Norman. It would appear that he is going to use this campaign as an exercise in profile-building. We've seen some innovative campaigning from the Greens in the past, so it will be interesting to see if they pick up on Matt McCarten's suggestion that every time Mr Shearer appears in public, he's shadowed by a group of "mercenaries"! Whatever, interesting times await us.