Election candidates answer to Wellsford community’s question

Posted at 12:58pm Monday 12 Oct, 2020 | By Jonathan Killick news@localmatters.co.nz

Candidates meeting, Wellsford
Candidates meeting, Wellsford

As the country went to early voting, the Wellsford candidates' debate nearly filled out its 100-person maximum occupancy in the Wellsford RSA.

Questions were put to the candidates by members of the Wellsford community and each candidate was given a chance to answer.

How to deal with waste

The candidates were asked how they would deal with Auckland's waste problem if the Dome Valley Landfill was not built.

Labour candidate Marja Lubeck said the government should use the waste minimisation fund to support solutions such as Mahurangi Wastebusters.

NZ First candidate Brenda Steele said her party was investigating using waste as fuel at the Huntly power plant in Waikato or converting an oil power plant at Marsden Point.

National candidate Chris Penk said waste to energy plants could be built if there was the political will despite claims from industry that the country's waste volumes were too low.

Social Credit candidate Callan Neylon said a waste to energy plant should be built in South Auckland and waste transported by rail.

Act candidate Beth Houlbrooke said the fault was with the Resource Management Act (RMA) which only allows for landfills not waste to energy plants. She said 80 per cent of waste was construction waste and greener building materials were needed.

Zephyr Brown agreed and said his party-mate Eugenie Sage had only signed off on the overseas purchase of the land for the dump because the law required it.

David Ford said some of the responsibility was on Kiwis to stop shopping for plastic and goods that produce waste.

Beth Houlbrooke and Zephyr Brown
Beth Houlbrooke and Zephyr Brown

More investment needed in Rodney

Northern Action Group's Bill Foster asked candidates how they would ‘fix' Auckland Council.

Ms Lubeck said she could not support a succession referendum for Rodney but said local boards should hold more power.

Billy TK said the proceeds of fuel, alcohol and tobacco tax ought to be given to local councils.

Mr Penk said council investment into Rodney needed to be tied to rates and that he would support legislation for fairer distribution.

Brenda Steele said an independent review of Council was needed by commissioners not appointed by the Council.

Mr Brown said the Green Party had always supported referendums on super cities but his party was not in power at the time Rodney was amalgamated into Auckland.

Ms Houlbrooke said she would be happy for Council revenue to be devolved to the local board level however there was not appetite in council for that. She said Act would like a share of GST to be allocated to local councils and more public private partnerships.

David Ford said there was a time when kiwi volunteerism could have toilet blocks built for $8000 but now Councils were building them for $800,000.

David Ford
David Ford

Responding to climate change

In the face of recent and looming droughts, the candidates were asked how they would bring various political camps together to tackle environmental challenges.

David Forde said the government should cuts its military spending and invest the money into the environment.

Ms Lubeck said that the government had passed the Zero Carbon Act with near unanimous support. Just one MP out of 200 did not vote in favour it – Act leader David Seymour.

Ms Houlbrooke said it was Act's view that the Zero Carbon Bill would simply drive agriculture offshore where practices were less sustainable, and would increase New Zealand's reliance on overseas dirty energy.

Mr Penk agreed with Ms Houlbrooke saying it made no sense for New Zealand to ban oil and gas exploration while importing coal from Asia.

Mr Kahika linked the Zero Carbon Bill to a conspiracy that the UN is using climate change as an excuse to enact global control.

Mr Brown leapt to the defence of rationality pointing out that climate change and covid-19 were in fact real.

However, he also pointed out that his party was in favour of reducing reliance on cars and building roads which was met by calls from the crowd that he should get on his bicycle.

Chris Penk
Chris Penk

Economic recovery after lockdown

John Reeves asked the candidates who would pay for the bill incurred by the government during lockdown.

Ms Lubeck said the Labour Party had a very good record when it came to debt, which was met by raucous laughter from the crowd.

She said it was right for the government to fund healthcare and the wage subsidy and that now was the time to borrow to invest in infrastructure while debt was cheap.

“Labour's lolly scramble,” a member of the crowd said.

“National's tax cuts are a lolly scramble,” Ms Lubeck returned.

Mr Kahika said the government should reopen the borders despite Covid-19 in order to increase revenue.

Mr Brown said the bigger problem in New Zealand is that it is a low wage economy. He said Kiwis needed to be encouraged to invest in business not property.

Mr Ford said New Zealand could look to the ancient Greek Empire for inspiration and instate a debt jubilee forgiving all debt. He said Kiwis also needed to take responsibility for debt and stop buying ‘expensive toys' on credit.

Billy Te Kahika
Billy Te Kahika

Marja Lubeck has done a lot for Rodney as a list MP

Marja Lubeck's most loyal supporter managed to submit a question to the candidates – she asked how it was the Marja had managed to do such a great job for the electorate as a list MP.

Ms Lubeck happily acknowledged her own efforts in gaining funding for the Mahurangi River Restoration, the Penlink project and the Matakana Link Road.

Ms Houlbrooke said advocating was easy when an MP had access to the purse strings. She said National MP Mark Mitchell had played a significant role in the achievements and the community itself had been the greatest advocate.

Mr Brown said Mark Mitchell had played a significant role in the Penlink approval which was met by criticism from Ms Lubeck.

Mr Penk pointed out that Penlink and the Matakana Link Road were yet to be built and ought not to be celebrated prematurely.

Questions from the audience
Questions from the audience

Roads and motorways

Glen Ashton asked the candidates if they would restore subsidies for local councils to upgrade rural gravel road to sealed road.

Each of the candidates agreed that in some form or another sealing roads needed to be funded through central government policy.

Predictably, the candidates were asked what they might do to advance the building of the Warkworth to Wellsford motorway.

Ms Lubeck pointed to $600 million worth of safety improvements on the Dome Valley and said it was better not to build highways for the sake of it.

Mr Penk said National would build a four-lane highway and most of the other candidates were in agreement that it was needed.

Ms Houlbrooke added that governments ought not to decide where roads are built and that an independent organisation ought to be established.

Mr Brown said he believes in railway not motorways, and that it would be better to seal rural roads than build a highway.

Mr Ford said it would be better for drones to deliver goods from Auckland to the north, and that Kiwis needed to stay local more often and travel less.


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