Seniors advisory panel agreed
The mayoral campaign brought candidates – well, three of them – to a Grey Power meeting in Three Kings this week. Reporter Joe Dawson went along to listen in.
Older Aucklanders say they are not being listened to.
As plans for the future of the city have been drawn up and furiously debated this year some older residents feel they have been left out of the loop and not properly consulted.
But they have been given the opportunity to have their say at Grey Power-run ‘meet the candidates’ events over the last two weeks, including in Three Kings on Tuesday.
A Pakuranga meeting last week drew 100 Grey Power members to listen to the five candidates who had been nominated at the time the meeting was organised – incumbent Len Brown and challengers John Palino, Penny Bright, John Minto and Uesifili Unasa.
The Fickling Centre version is a quieter affair.
Mr Brown is a no show and Mr Unasa had made his apologies, and only 30 seniors were in the audience.
The meeting is chaired by Auckland Grey Power president Anne-Marie Coury, who says a delay in getting the monthly newsletter out may be the reason for the low turnout.
When the meeting gets under way Ms Coury peppers the candidates with a series of pre-determined questions which cut to the heart of what older Aucklanders are worried about.
Candidates were grilled on rates and rebates, the establishment of a seniors advisory panel, road congestion, open space and the vexed Unitary Plan.
Despite hailing from opposite ends of the political spectrum – John Minto and Penny Bright on the left, John Palino to the right – the candidates were able to agree on several points.
The one million extra people coming to Auckland in the next 30 years was a figure ‘‘plucked from the air’’; an advisory panel was a good idea. On the other matters the candidates were able to return to the main planks of their campaigns to solve most problems.
For Mr Palino that means building a second CBD in Manukau. Problems around road congestion, housing affordability and open space could be eased by ‘‘building a new city’’.
‘‘If we build another CBD in Manukau it would pull congestion away from the isthmus,’’ he says.
Once that is complete, a third CBD between Hamilton and Auckland would complete his vision.
The self-described ‘‘investigative activist’’ and former welder Penny Bright says she will be ‘‘merciless’’ on what she calls Auckland’s Cash Cow Organisations – the CCOs responsible for things like water and waste.
‘‘We have now got thousands of private contractors playing piggy in the middle,’’ she says. ‘‘ The root cause of corruption is privatisation.’’
She is also calling for a national population and migration strategy to ease pressure on infrastructure and housing in Auckland.
John Minto is advocating for a return to the gentler 1950s and ’ 60s with a campaign based on the values of compassion and giving everyone a fair go.
He plans to cut the wages of council management staff and raise the wages of council workers and introduce income-related rates.
He believes the Unitary Plan is ‘‘a blueprint for developers and big business, not a blueprint for community development’’.
Question time: Grey Power Auckland president Anne-Marie Coury grills candidates John Minto, John Palino and Penny Bright.