Happy Christmas for some, but a bleak one in store for others

EDITORIAL

On Saturday Andrew Little and his Labour Party received sa a welcome early Christmas present with a stunning win in the Mount Roskill by-election. But for another group of New Zealanders, the families of the victims of the Pike River disaster, another bleak Christmas lies ahead.

Labour must have been a little nervous going into this election in which a defeat would have rounded off a forgettable 2016. Instead, its candidate Michael Wood finished a convincing winner with 66 percent of the vote compared to 28 percent for National’s Parmjeet Parmar.

National had tried to put pressure on Little saying that a defeat would surely see his end as leader. Instead Little had the sheer joy of describing the win as “a bloody nose” for Prime Minister John Key who had visited the electorate seven times in the final week.

Realistically, Labour was always the favourite to hold a seat it has lost only once since 1981. In the 20 years of MMP, a by-election has seen a change of party only once, when the redoubtable Winston Peters won Northland.

This gives Little a break as the Christmas holidays approach and time to find ways to build momentum for the coming election in 2017.

No such joy for the Pike River families and their tireless spokesman, Bernie Monk, who have had to stand on the road and watch trucks go past on their way to finally sealing the mine entrance.

As he has for the six years since the disaster that took 29 lives, Monk refuses to give up and is calling on Key to come and speak to the families. For a lay person, it is really impossible to know which of the conflicting experts are right about whether or not it’s possible to gain access to the mine, but everybody is united in their sympathy for the families.

Finally, we can’t resist pointing out that it will be no Merry Christmas for Australian rugby coach Michael Chielka whose team were beaten 37-21 by his nemesis Eddie Jones to end a dismal year in which they lost a record nine times.

On Saturday Andrew Little and his Labour Party received sa a welcome early Christmas present with a stunning win in the Mount Roskill by-election. But for another group of New Zealanders, the families of the victims of the Pike River disaster, another bleak Christmas lies ahead.

Labour must have been a little nervous going into this election in which a defeat would have rounded off a forgettable 2016. Instead, its candidate Michael Wood finished a convincing winner with 66 percent of the vote compared to 28 percent for National’s Parmjeet Parmar.

National had tried to put pressure on Little saying that a defeat would surely see his end as leader. Instead Little had the sheer joy of describing the win as “a bloody nose” for Prime Minister John Key who had visited the electorate seven times in the final week.

Realistically, Labour was always the favourite to hold a seat it has lost only once since 1981. In the 20 years of MMP, a by-election has seen a change of party only once, when the redoubtable Winston Peters won Northland.

This gives Little a break as the Christmas holidays approach and time to find ways to build momentum for the coming election in 2017.

No such joy for the Pike River families and their tireless spokesman, Bernie Monk, who have had to stand on the road and watch trucks go past on their way to finally sealing the mine entrance.

As he has for the six years since the disaster that took 29 lives, Monk refuses to give up and is calling on Key to come and speak to the families. For a lay person, it is really impossible to know which of the conflicting experts are right about whether or not it’s possible to gain access to the mine, but everybody is united in their sympathy for the families.

Finally, we can’t resist pointing out that it will be no Merry Christmas for Australian rugby coach Michael Chielka whose team were beaten 37-21 by his nemesis Eddie Jones to end a dismal year in which they lost a record nine times.

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