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Green Party won't contest Ohariu

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017 Karen Sweeney

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne wants everyone to "take a deep breath" over an decision by the Green Party not to contest the electorate in September in a move that could threaten his political future.

The Greens have committed with Labour to work together to change the government, prompting their decision not to run a candidate in direct competition with Greg O'Connor who was selected as Labour's candidate.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the move makes "perfect sense" in an MMP environment as it increases the chances of changing the government.

"Ohariu's a really unusually case because it's an overhang seat that supports the government, it actually increases the chances that there will be a National-led government if it remains the way it is," he said.

The Greens will still contest the party vote.

Mr Dunne, the United Future leader, has held the seat since he entered Parliament in 1984, most recently through deals with National that they direct electorate votes to Mr Dunne while campaigning for party votes.

National list MP Brett Hudson will also contest the seat this year.

"I think everyone should take a breath at the moment," Mr Dunne said on Tuesday, saying he wasn't concerned about his electorate.

"I work hard in my electorate. I have for all the years I've represented it. People know that," he said.

"Labour has parachuted in outsiders for seven of the eight last elections, people know that as well."

Labour has rejected that the Greens' decision to stand is part of an electoral accommodation deal despite it being "very helpful" to Labour and Mr O'Connor.

"There is no deal. They've made a decision not to stand a candidate in Ohariu. They've made a decision to stand a candidate in Mt Albert. Go figure," he said.

Green list MP Julie Anne Genter is campaigning against Labour's Jacinda Ardern in the Auckland by-election on February 25.

Labour and the Green Party have been critical of electoral accommodation deals involving National in the past.

As well as agreements with Mr Dunne, National has also done deals with Act leader David Seymour in Epsom.

"I don't think they'll be criticising the deals this year," Prime Minister Bill English said.

On Tuesday afternoon he said National would not be withdrawing Mr Hudson as a candidate and would deal with the issue of who national voters should vote for closer to the election.

Earlier he said National was focused on continuing to grow their party vote in the electorate.

NZ First leader Winston Peters used the announcement to criticise the "dirty" and "underhanded" deals done by other political parties.

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