Ban On Candidates On Platforms


Should election candidates be banned from railway platforms?

It sounded rather over the top for a Labour candidate to be ordered off the Onehunga station by a bellowing message from the overhead speakers. Someone monitoring the closed circuit TV at Britomart obviously blew a fuse about it.

Standing on a platform waiting for the train can be a boring affair especially with some of the stark landscapes one has to be face in front of you but there’s also an argument that this is a time of solitude that is interfered with by salespeople getting in your face.

General elections only come around once every 3 years and we’re entitled to enough information as possible - difficult when the media concentrates on sideshows, delivers 10 second soundbites and blows up trivial differences between parties and candidates. Anyone seen any comprehensive TV debate yet abnout the MMP referendum? I’m struggling to understand what the different potential systems mean.

Labour MP David Shearer on a train station

During the Mt Albert by-election I enjoyed talking to prospective candidates at stations and so it’s interesting that in the era of Auckland Transport, that practice has been banned, according to the weekend media.

ACT's departing MP John Boscowen hands out leadlets

I thought it was cool that the candidates recognised rail commuters by popping up at stations.

And the Greens have been famous for taking actual rail trips out of Britomart and walking through the carriage. I had a great long conversation once with the late Greens’ Rod Donald on the Western Line. He was a very fine person and is missed.

Pro-rail Greens know how to work the stations

No-one stopped Greens MP David Clendon and campaigners protesting at Mt Albert station one morning about  the possible closure of provincial lines.

Greens MP David Clendon campaigning for provincial rail

And Greens launched its CBD Rail Link petition campaign at Britomart, but then they were aided by powerful allies and no doubt got permission.

Len Brown spoke at the Greens CBD link launch at Britomart

Security guards at stations are bad enough with their often often over- zealous if not aggressive behaviour.

One nasty piece of work tried to evict me from the Newmarket station a few months ago and looked as if he was going to seize my camera just because, when I was leaving the station after a trip,  I took a photo of the historic Newmarket mural at the end of the station near the ticket office. He mumbled about banning me.

NEWMARKET: Taking this photo almost got me evicted or banned from the station

This is the second time I have been stopped taking a photo at Newmarket train station.

I explained what I was doing but to honest, both guards were not the brightest or most coherent on the block but they insisted they were acting on instructions about no photographs. A Newmarket security man stopped a TV3 interview with Councillor Cameron Brewer taking place some time back. So it was not a one off mistake.

So what do you think? Should Auckland Transport ban candidates this week from station platforms or do you want the chance to meet and greet, smile and wave and engage in a conversation about the questions the media is not asking?

I would welcome it.








  1. Rob says:

    There should be no banning of political candidates at all on station platforms during the run-up to the election, nor should at any time, the taking of photographs as described be banned (ridiculous carry-on by security staff!). PT is key issue this election and the NZ media as per usual have their head in the sand in not covering it at all.

  2. Alex says:

    What I find most interesting about this article is that DC 4594 is back on SA duty…

  3. Frank Williams says:

    I agree - they should be allowed, although I’d rather see them on the train so they can get an idea of the service commuters get. In a side note, both Labour’s Carol Beaumont & National’s Sam Lotu-Iiga were on the platform at Ellerslie last week. She made the effort to talk to commuters, while he just waved plackards at passing motorists on the motorway…

  4. Matt L says:

    I can understand them being asked to move on if they are being a nuisance to people but providing they aren’t getting in the way it should be ok

  5. joust says:

    would the next step be to ban hand-shaking in public squares, pavements and bus stops? I don’t understand the motivation behind this ban. Seems to be an over-reaction with strange reasons. It’d be just as easy for candidates to stand outside the exits at Britomart passing out brochures.

  6. Matt says:

    “Someone monitoring the closed circuit TV at Britomart obviously blew a fuse about it.”

    Sounds like a National supporter going way beyond their remit.

    Public space.

  7. Anthony says:

    Kicking the pollies off the platform does sound a bit OTT to me. I would love to meet some them because, apart from Jo Goodhew, I never met another politican before….

  8. Simon Lyall says:

    No comment about the political candidates but this policy of banning photography is a concern.

    Assuming you aren’t getting in everybody’s way then I can see not point to it apart from somebody throwing their weight around.

    It would be good if you could following up with Auckland transport to get their official policy (and if it does ban photography their reasoning and who to talk to to change it).

  9. Jon Reeves says:

    Yes, I believe politicians for local and central Governement should be allowed on railway platforms.

    At the end of the day it is them who either push for rail improvements,or not.

    Sounds like AT need to make up some guidelines to allow this in the future.

  10. Jeff says:

    Rail designated land is privately owned land, (in the case, the govt and it’s subsidiaries) therefore, no doubt they have strict guidelines as to who can, and can’t advertise on their land. It’s like a political party standing on your front lawn with a billboard. not to mention the potential hazards.

    - that said, I’m not sure about the photographs thing, that’s a bit of a legal grey area.

  11. ingolfson says:

    “Rail designated land is privately owned land”

    Sorry, Jeff, while technically correct, that is legalistic bull****. These areas, stations etc… are publicly owned, publicly paid for, and a large part of daily life. To ban something so central to our society like democracy from it is an absolute outrage.

    For your information, with Auckland Transport being a CCO, and many of our public spaces being held by entities like Council holding companies, you could conceivably make the “it’s private land” argument for most of our public spaces.

  12. ingolfson says:

    “not to mention the potential hazards.”

    What next? Pool fencing around every volunteer or candidate doing what he SHOULD be doing - engaging with his constituents?

  13. wally thomas says:

    Don’t believe everything you read…Auckland Transport DOES allow candidates on platform etc. This is public space- much as the local park.We did however write to all parties asking that as a matter of courtesy they let us know if they intended electioneering on/near transport hubs. This was so (1) on-site staff were aware and (2) so that we could explain basic health and safety requirements (making sure not to block egress etc). In the case reported we were not aware of the presence of the candidate and there were no on-site staff. So CCTV operators issued an announcement over the PA system. A mix up- simple as that. Nothing sinister.
    Wally Thomas
    Auckland Transport

  14. Jon C says:

    @Wally Thanks for the clarification.
    Weekend press strikes again!

  15. Ben says:

    Thanks Wally.

    Personally I do not mind candidates campaigning on platforms except for the “operational level” at Britomart (level where the trains are).

    To be honest having a good yack to candidates while waiting for a train is a great boredom buster and an effort of Candidates to engage rail commuters.

    I am wary though of active campaigning on a moving train though - mainly for health and safety reasons.

    Oh and the reason for not being allowing on the operational level of Britomart - especially being a peak; for one a commuter rushing for their train is going to tell you to sod off and two again health and safety of everyone on a very mobile and utilised platform.

  16. Ben says:

    And to that effect I see we have a Green Candidate at Papakura today and tomorrow.

    Not to worry - the candidate did their ground work prior - so no PA annoucements for this one ;)

  17. Mike says:

    What about your signs saying “passengers only past this point” or something to that affect at station entrances.
    Has this sign at Greenlane.