Can­di­dates vie for se­nior cit­i­zens’ votes

Eastern Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - IMO­GEN NEALE

‘‘We had such a won­der­ful her­itage, and we're giv­ing it up.’’

A trio of politi­cians had 23 min­utes to win over se­nior vot­ers at a Grey Power How­ick and Paku­ranga meet­ing last Fri­day.

The can­di­dates were the Green Party’s Barry Coates, The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party’s David Hay, and Heather Mar­ion Smith of the Democrats for So­cial Credit.

And while they were all party spokes­peo­ple for se­nior is­sues, the top­ics tra­versed every­thing from kaiti­ak­i­tanga (en­vi­ron­men­tal guardian­ship) to debt ser­vic­ing.

Coates, who is num­ber 10 on the Green Party list, spoke pas­sion­ately about claw­ing back New Zealand’s legacy as a fair, sus­tain­able and en­vi­ron­men­tallysound coun­try.

‘‘We had such a won­der­ful her­itage, and we’re giv­ing it up.’’

He im­plored peo­ple to vote Green so there is a ‘‘strong green heart’’ in govern­ment re­gard­less of which ma­jor party takes the helm.

Key talking points in­cluded in­creased pro­tec­tion of New Zealand’s rivers and aquifers, cre­at­ing a knowl­edge and skills, rather than com­mod­ity-based econ­omy, and cli­mate change.

He apol­o­gised that the Greens’ can­di­date for the Paku­ranga elec­torate Guy Hunt could not at­tend the meet­ing, but said he was ask­ing lo­cals for their party vote.

Smith told the crowd to ‘‘fas­ten your seat belts’’ as she wanted to take them on a ‘‘fast ride’’ about public debt which she sees as a ‘‘fi­nan­cial dis­rup­tion to the coun­try’s pros­per­ity’’.

The So­cial Credit can­di­date’s ex­am­ples of public debt, such as that ser­viced by the Auck­land Coun­cil, gar­nered a lot of in­ter­est from the au­di­ence and she fielded sev­eral fol­low-up ques­tions.

Af­ter the heavy topic, she in­tro­duced some lev­ity into ques­tion time by say­ing ‘‘I won’t eat you, be­cause I’m veg­e­tar­ian’’.

Hay spoke last and kept coming back to the word ‘‘care’’.

‘‘We in­tend to sit on the cross­benches and of­fer poli­cies to Na­tional or Labour.’’

Hay said The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party’s poli­cies come from the heart, from car­ing about New Zealand, and he out­lined poli­cies such as a uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come and con­trolled le­gal­i­sa­tion of cannabis.

‘‘Which is a bit like [le­gal­is­ing] pros­ti­tu­tion. You don’t want to but it makes sense.’’

Dur­ing the gen­eral au­di­ence ques­tion time, the can­di­dates also fielded ques­tions about su­per­an­nu­a­tion, af­ford­able hous­ing, and elective surg­eries.

The speak­ers proved pop­u­lar enough that the or­gan­is­ers had to call time to draw pro­ceed­ings to a close.

IMO­GEN NEALE / STUFF

Grey Power How­ick Paku­ranga pres­i­dent Peter Bankers, Barry Coates, Heather Mar­ion Smith and David Hay out­side the meet-the-can­di­dates gath­er­ing on August 25 at Paku­ranga Bowl­ing Club.

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