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February by-election for Mount Albert

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/12/2016

Jacinda Ardern © Getty Images Jacinda Ardern A by-election will be held in the Auckland electorate of Mount Albert next year but National's decision not to run a candidate has been criticised by Labour as "running scared".

The vote will be to replace incumbent Labour MP David Shearer who will leave politics on December 31 after being appointed to lead the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

Mr English confirmed on Monday that the vote would be held on February 25 and says National will not be standing a candidate.

He had on Sunday put an end to speculation of an early election to avoid the by-election responding simply "yes" when asked if the general election would be in the second half of the year.

"The National government is focused on winning the 2017 general election later in the year," Mr English said in a statement about Mt Albert on Monday.

"To achieve that goal, we don't intend to participate in a by-election in the new year that is in a safe Labour seat."

Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern has already indicated her intention to seek her party's nomination in Mt Albert, after twice previously standing in the neighbouring marginal Auckland Central seat held by National's Nikki Kaye.

Labour deputy leader Annette King said it was "gutless" of Mr English for National to not front a candidate.

"English is running scared from his first test as a leader. He clearly doesn't want another bloody nose after the Mt Roskill defeat," she said.

Labour's Michael Wood defeated National list MP Parmjeet Parmar in a by-election in Mt Roskill last month.

"We take nothing for granted and will be seeking a mandate for Labour's new candidate in Mt Albert. As we showed in Mt Roskill, we are ready to fight a by-election and a general election," Ms King said.

Writs will be issued on January 25 and the deadline for candidate nominations will be February 1.

The Electoral Commission say residents of Point Chevalier, Grey Lynn, Westmere Owairaka, Mt Albert and parts of Sandringham and Kingsland that fall within the electorate should ensure their electoral roll details are up to date.

"Only those who are enrolled on the general roll in the Mt Albert electorate are entitled to vote in the by-election," electoral officer Robert Peden said.

Around 29 voting places are expected to be open on February 25. Overseas voting will begin on February 8 and advance voting from February 13.

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