General election candidates tussle at Warkworth Town Hall
Posted at 1:03pm Monday 13 Jul, 2020
Around 150 people braved chilly weather to attend a Meet the Candidates meeting in the Warkworth Town Hall last week.
Candidate Beth Houlbrooke (ACT) joked that it was as cold inside the building as out, saying it was hard to talk because she was suffering from “brain freeze”.
“Council really ought to do something about the heating in the town hall,” she quipped.
Joining her on stage were other candidates contesting the Kaipara Ki Mahurangi electorate in the General Election. They were Chris Penk (National), Marja Lubeck (Labour) and Callan Neylon (Social Credit).
Ms Houlbrooke took an early pot shot at the Government, saying that it was determined to isolate the country from the rest of the world because of Covid-19 but at enormous economic cost.
“We have to ask ourselves how long can we afford to remain cut off from the rest of the world. Our economic success relies on visitors and the travel industry is on its knees,” she said.
But Marja Lubeck defended the Government's record on Covid-19, saying that the night's meeting would be unthinkable in many countries still experiencing lockdown and where people died every day from Covid.
She said because of the Government's strong health response, it was now in a good position to kick start the economy with initiatives such as the wage subsidy, which had enabled as many people as possible to keep their jobs.
Meanwhile, Chris Penk stressed his commitment to infrastructure, indicating his support for the restoration of the Mahurangi River, the upgrading of the Hill Street intersection and the construction of the Matakana link road. At the same time, he expressed his opposition to the proposed tolling of the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway.
Callan Neylon used much of his available speaking time to criticise the prospect of a landfill in the Dome Valley. He said it was good that the Government had just pledged $100 million to clean up the Kaipara Harbour, but this work was entirely undone by the “seeming acceptance” of a landfill in the Dome.
“We don't need landfills at all any more. We can look to innovative technological solutions such as waste-to-energy plants,” he said.
None of the candidates expressed any enthusiasm for an independent north Rodney, with Marja Lubeck emerging as most resistant to the idea. She said the amalgamation of north Rodney into the wider Auckland region was too far advanced and Labour would not support another referendum on whether north Rodney should become independent.
One of the most contested issues on the night was the issue of guns. Both Chris Penk and Beth Houlbrooke criticised Labour's policy on guns in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings, with
Beth Houlbrooke describing them as a knee-jerk reaction that had made “overnight criminals” of licensed firearms owners.
Marja Lubeck disagreed, saying the Government's swift action on guns following the shootings mirrored its swift response to Covid-19.
“One of the important decisions that was taken straight away after the mosque shootings was that we were not going to wait for another massacre,” she said.