We mentioned yesterday that Gareth Hughes from the Greens was the youngest member of the current Parliament. He should enjoy that accolade while it lasts!
As expected, Jami-Lee Ross won the almost-forgotten Botany by-election. When the votes were counted last night, Ross had won 56.7% support, which gives him a pretty commanding grip on the seat. Labour's Michael Wood was next with 27.9% of the vote. The turnout was a piddling 38%.
Jami-Lee Ross is only 25, but he already has a track record of representing his community. He was first elected to the Manukau City Council in 2004, re-elected in 2007 and was elected to the new Auckland council last year. He has pledged to resign from this role. He seems to have a maturity beyond his years, although we wonder about the wisdom of one so young settling in for a long political career.
We draw a parallel with Darren Hughes from Labour. We have said on a number of occasions that we reckon that at some point, Hughes should take a break from Parliament for three to nine years (he's only 32) and get some work experience in the commercial world, far away from the rarified air of Parliament. He would return to Parliament with a different world-view and and appreciation of how business works, and we are sure that he would be a better MP for that; perhaps a future Prime Minister.
National's vote held up surprisingly well. Pansy Wong polled around 56% support in 2008, so there is little change. Labour's vote increased, but that needs to be taken in context of the Greens' potential candidate getting stuck in traffic and failing to nominate in time.
There have been two by-elections in the last few months. In Mana, Phil Goff's office engineered the nomination of Kris Fa'afoi against the wishes of the local LEC, and although they won, a safe Labour seat is now marginal. In Botany, there has been little change since the 2008 General Election.
Traditionally, by-elections give the electorate the opportunity to send a message to a government. What message can be taken from Botany? The result is not too far different to what multiple political polls are saying which suggests to us that those who voted in Botany yesterday reflect the national mood, and are happy with the performance of John Key's government.