In September we elect a new member of parliament.
Here we include the answers from two more candidates – in July we questioned Nathan Guy & Rob McCann, now we include the answers from Maddy Drew & Amanda Vickers.
Last month a guest columnist in the Otaki Mail explained why he believed that it is important that we vote. We agree.
We asked the two candidates nominated for the Otaki electorate for their positions on a number of topics that we thought important. Here we present their answers.
In the interest of impartiality, the Otaki Mail has not edited their answers.
What is special about Otaki?
Otaki is one of the best places to live in New Zealand. It has a great climate, the beach and the Tararuas are nearby, it has popular shopping and is close to Wellington.
It’s a great community with great people. One of my personal favourites places in Otaki is Oz’s Hot Bread Shop on the main road which makes superb pies.
The people. Otaki is a welcoming and vibrant community with a ‘can do’ attitude epitomised by the Cleantech Centre, the Wānanga, the development of the Outlet shops and was even recognised by Lonely Planet as the second best destination in Asia for the annual Kite Festival. Recently Otaki featured the Maoriland Film Festival with guests including Taika Waititi and Temuera Morrison.
Otaki is positioned within both the Horowhenua and Kapiti regions with some services northern focused and others southern. That creates both opportunities and the need for local champions to ensure that Otaki is not treated as a poor cousin when it comes to funding and opportunities.
The decision to drop Otaki from the rollout of ultra-fast broadband, the potential cessation of the Capital Connection service, the absolute silence on the issue of electrification to Otaki, the downgrading of local bypass specifications, demonstrate how the (outgoing) government doesn’t understand Otaki’s needs or potential.
Otaki has tremendous opportunities for growth. I believe that growth would be accelerated by a change in government, and better supported by a local MP who lives in the electorate
Friendly people, supportive community, our beautiful natural environment, the fabulous weather, hearing te reo when you walk down Main St and rich soil that lets me think I have green thumbs
I love that Otaki has such a vibrant culture of environmental and ecological awareness – reflected in a diverse range of community groups – especially the strong Transition Towns movement. It is also home to many monetary reform proponents, so it is well ahead of its time. As monetary reform is the focus of my campaign, I shall address the issues that face us through this lens
What’s your position on the Capital Connection ?
I support the Capital Connection. Last year I lobbied hard to get KiwiRail to continue this service for at least the next two years.
Horizons and Greater Wellington Regional Councils are continuing dialogue with KiwiRail and NZTA about meeting any funding shortfalls beyond 2015.
It’s also very important that locals show their support by using the service.
I’m proud of the National Governments investment of $380 million into rail in the Wellington region, with new ‘Matangi’ trains, extended services, double tracking and overhauling the electrified network.
In total the Government has invested over $1 billion into KiwiRail
The Capital Connection is a vital link for Otaki, giving people the opportunity to live in Otaki and commute to Wellington for work. If we want families to settle in Otaki, we must retain the service.
Labour has pledged to keep the Capital Connection as we believe the business case put forward by the Greater Wellington Regional Council makes financial and practical sense.
The service is an important part of our public transport system, so it is baffling that Nathan Guy has been unable to convince his colleagues to keep the train service operating beyond the election. Delaying the decision on the future of this service until after the election is a great shame. It indicates the strong possibility that the service will be lost once Mr Guy has avoided being held to account by the people of Otaki.
I believe we need to look at the double tracking and electrification of the rail line to Otaki. There is a real opportunity to create growth in the region by extending a regular rail service and this is something that I want to achieve, as your MP
I think that it’s a commuter service and should be supported as such to continue. The Green Party will boost regional transport spending, including revitalising the rail transport backbone
Public transport is part of the life blood of any community. The Capital Connection allows Otaki residents the ability to work in Wellington and to be connected between Wellington and Palmerston North. It is important to maintain until it can be superseded by electrification, as a long term strategy to tackle peak oil. Taking back our nation’s right to create our own money supply would help subsidise exactly this type of issue. This is why my campaign is based on the monetary reform platform.
What is your party’s position of UFB for Otaki? Do we deserve to be excluded?
Under the UFB, Otaki schools and the Health Centre will receive a high-speed fibre connection, and outside of the township broadband will be upgraded under the Rural Broadband Initiative.
Otaki township generally has access to broadband at speeds between 10Mbps to 20Mbps thanks to Chorus upgrades over recent years.
The UFB initiative is to ensure 75% of New Zealanders have access to UFB by 2019, and 33 candidate areas were selected on their projected population size.
Unfortunately Otaki’s projected population was just below the cut off. Any decision to extend fibre to areas outside the UFB is a commercial decision for Chorus to make.
I’m disappointed that Labour voted against our ultra-fast broadband legislation
Once again our local MP has failed to advocate for the region he claims to represent. While Otaki is currently a small town, it has tremendous potential for growth and already includes significant infrastructure including a university, a clean technology centre, clean technology park, industrial complexes and two shopping precincts.
However, for new businesses to locate to Otaki, the government needs to send the right signals that they support growth in regional NZ. That requires the tools of the future which must include faster access to the internet. To quote the National party, ‘Ultra-Fast Broadband is a key part of the government’s economic growth plan.
Broadband speeds of 100 Mbps and more will revolutionise the way many businesses operate’.
Well not in Otaki thanks to Nathan Guy. When asked why Otaki was being poorly treated, Mr Guy refused to answer and instead referred inquiries to the Minister of Communications, Amy Adams. Ōtaki is now in a dead zone, along with dozens of other NZ towns that are neither a part of the UFB build or the Rural Broadband Initiative.
These are not the actions of a local MP who is committed to this electorate, while the failure to rollout UFB in Otaki illustrates the plan under Chorus (the business contracted by the government), has been an unmitigated disaster with poor planning, budget overruns and far slower progress than anticipated.
Labour remains committed to delivering fibre to homes, but our priorities are different – focused on how to achieve the best bang for the taxpayers’ buck and to stimulate the industry to start delivering affordable services over fibre to all of NZ. This is a regional development issue and limiting access to fibre to our biggest cities disadvantages regions that are most in need of greater connectivity to compete on a global stage. Labour grasps that the infrastructure that supports our Internet access is critical for the nation and will work to ensure all communities have access to affordable, high-speed solutions.
The Green Party supports UFB and a second cable as vital infrastructure for a smart green economy. I think that with the clean tech centre and the numerous educational institutions, Otaki’s an obvious choice for early UFB rollout, rather than waiting too long for the rural broadband initiative
“Ignorance is a choice in the information age”, however without good internet access we are at an immediate disadvantage. Fast, reliable internet access is an important part of all our futures. If we did not subsidise the banking sector with our monetary system, we could instead be subsidising important infrastructure projects such as this.
How can the expressway benefit Otaki, and how will you ensure that we don’t become a forgotten backwater?
The Otaki to Levin route is an important part of the Wellington Northern Corridor which will provide faster and safer travel for everyone in the region.
The Otaki bypass will reduce congestion, especially on weekends and public holidays, and will mean less heavy trucks rumbling up and down the retail shopping strip.
I don’t see the bypass affecting local retailers as there will be easy access to the on and off ramps, and the Otaki railway town has become a real shopping destination in its own right. People make trips to Otaki especially for the shopping and in my view this will continue, but with less heavy traffic.
In my opinion it will actually enhance the shopping because many shoppers have told me they couldn’t get a park so carried on to places like Shannon.
Down the road in Kapiti there is a huge amount of roading activity which is creating jobs and boosting the local economy. These benefits will be similar for the Otaki community when this section begins
The expressway means different things to different parts of the community. I believe the expressway has been poorly planned. If the community consensus option had been progressed as agreed to under Labour, we would already have a local road linking our communities and reducing the traffic congestion.
Overseas experience suggests that a bypass changes commuter behaviour. Otaki runs a real risk of losing travellers who used to stop at the Outlet stores. A bypass makes it hard for cars to exit and visit smaller towns. That’s a real threat to the vibrancy of Otaki. Visitors spend money and that money is needed to keep a community afloat.
If Otaki can market itself, there is the real possibility that visitors will stay for longer before re-joining the expressway. It’s an opportunity that will require business owners and town leaders to work together for the good of the town, and I, for one, would happily support such cooperation.
The Green Party will completely rejig the priorities of NZTA so that its top priorities will be to provide for walking, cycling and public transport rather than building motorways.
I do not believe the expressway will benefit Otaki at all. However Otaki could thrive and maintain its liveliness organically in a healthy economy with a healthy monetary system
NZ’s standing in the OECD regarding child poverty is not good. Why?
The only sustainable, long-term way out of poverty is getting families off welfare and into work.
This is why National has reformed the welfare system to make it more work focussed. So far, our reforms have seen around 1500 beneficiaries going into work each week. Last year 8,600 sole parents came off the benefit.
At the same time we need to have an effective safety net. This is why the Government spends around $24 billion on social security and welfare every year.
Families and children are a top priority in Budget 2014 with a $500 million package announced.
From July 2015, free doctors’ visits and prescriptions will be available to under-13s, and an extra $20 million has been allocated to reducing rheumatic fever.
We also provide support and funding for food in schools through a range of initiatives including Fruit in Schools, and KickStart Breakfast in Schools, which have been helped by Fonterra and Sanitarium. The Government is also working with KidsCan to provide items like raincoats and free nit treatment in low decile schools.
We also allocated $22 million to budgeting services so families with children can learn better budget skills and break free of crippling debt and provide more for their kids.
Revised figures have found an extra 20,000 children who are classed as living in poverty because they live in households earning below 60 per cent of the national median income, after housing costs. Our nation is becoming more divided, with an élite who are seeing their bank balances increase, whilst hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders struggle to make ends meet. The share of wealth owned by the top one per cent of Kiwis is now 25.1%, meaning they control more than does the bottom 70 per cent of the population.
Extreme inequality is a sign of economic failure and New Zealand can, and must, do better. By concentrating wealth and power in the hands of the few, the poorest people are robbed of the support they need to improve their lives, and that means that their voices go unheard. If we fail to curb widening inequality, we can expect increased economic and social problems.
A Labour Government will reverse this trend by ensuring that a hard day’s work will receive a fair day’s pay. Firstly, we will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in our first 100 days. We will also promote and support a living wage and will implement our ‘Best Start’ policies which support young families and help women and families to thrive during those important early years.
We will also ensure that we strengthen collective bargaining, which not only increases the wages of the workers, but ensures that working conditions do not lead to injuries and deaths, which, again, lead to poverty. Alongside this, the capital gains tax (though not on our family homes) will ensure that incomes are fairly taxed.
I make no apologies regarding Labour’s decision to raise the top income bracket. The threshold is $150,000 and we believe those who can afford to pay a little more should do so. This will result in a fairer and more equitable society.
But there’s more. Too many New Zealanders are in jail, leaving their families struggling to make ends meet. Many have fallen through the cracks and have been unable to find work and a place in our society. If we can – and I know we can – we will build a fairer and more decent society. One where we are not second only to America in terms of a prison population, and one where work is a right, not a privilege.
This is a situation inherited, and tolerated, by successive governments since the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s saw child poverty in New Zealand double within a few short years.
The Green Party has a billion dollar plan to reduce child poverty which includes:
- Creating a new top tax rate of 40 percent above $140,000, harmonise the trust tax rate with the top income tax rate, and introduce measures to make it harder for people to avoid paying their fair share of tax, generating close to $1 billion a year;
And, investing that revenue to fund:
- A new Children’s Credit that will give an extra $60 a week to families currently missing out, at a cost of $400 million a year;
- A non-discriminatory Parental Tax Credit of $220 a week in the first weeks of life for the poorest children, costing $29.4 million a year;
- A $500 million per year investment in children’s health and education to reduce the harm caused by poverty.
Poverty is a serious issue in NZ. Addressing this with respect to inequality can be more enlightening however. Worsening inequality stretches the gap between the rich and the poor further apart – but not evenly. As the gap widens, only the top 10% get richer, while the remaining 90% get poorer. So, poverty worsens and the middle class also increasingly struggle which is exactly what we have seen in the last three decades. We now have a “working poor”: half of all children living in hardship and going without the basics have parents in full time work. Eliminating poverty and inequality is the key to a healthy society and essential for social cohesion. It is more important than ever to identify and address the root causes rather than using the proverbial sticking plaster. Poverty and inequality have been linked to a variety of factors, but some key factors include globalisation (aka corporatisation), tax structure (not discussed here), and a dysfunctional monetary system.
Globalisation is a key reason for the inequality that we see, according to Treasury CEO Gabriel Makhlouf, because it increases competition with countries with lower wages. Bernard Hickey agreed that the costs of globalisation are paid by the poor while the benefits go to the top. According to him, the next victims of globalisation are going to be the jobs of middle class New Zealanders.
Changing our monetary system would be the single biggest strategy we could employ to alleviate poverty. The mechanisms are simplified here, so I refer the reader to positivemoney.org for more detailed explanations.
The key feature of our monetary system is that “banks create money out of thin air” (quote: Michael Kumhof, deputy division chief at the IMF). As such, most of our money comes in to circulation from banks making loans: “the essence of the contemporary monetary system is the creation of money out of nothing by private banks’ often foolish lending” (quote: Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times). So, to have money in our economy, we must have debt. Debt is a feature of our system.
We pay interest on the money created from thin air. The actual loan money disappears when it is repaid. But the bank keeps the interest.
This interest is hard earned money from our real economy, transferred to the banking sector. This is the “rent” we pay for privatising our monetary system. This is why I am advocating that banks function only as intermediaries, just as people think they do now.
Because we must always repay our loans with interest, we end up with a system where there is a growth imperative on our finite planet.
The economy must grow (and so debt must grow) or we fall in to economic collapse. We now see unprecedented total debt levels amongst New Zealanders which is a real concern.
The monetary system is also inherently unstable, with boom and bust cycles being accentuated and as such, temporary and lower paid jobs are less secure. It transfers money from the real economy to the banks, and from the bottom 90% to the top 10% of individuals –
(mechanism explained on Positivemoney.org). Also, because the majority of bank lending is for the real estate sector, this is pumping up house prices and those who can afford to be on the property ladder are able to ride these wind falls. This helps explain why we see poverty
The fundamental power of any nation is the ability to issue its own money. We need to reclaim our nation’s sovereign right to create our own money. This must be done in a democratic, accountable and transparent manner working in the public interest. The profits from
creating new money must go to the people, not the banks. This is an elephant in the room and needs addressing for us to have any real chance of tackling these issues. Billions of dollars are at stake.
More than enough to address poverty and inequality.
Do you and your party respect the results of citizen’s initiated referenda?
Yes – we respect the role these referenda have in our society.
It’s important to note though that these referenda are not legally binding, because historically the voter turnout for referenda is much lower than the turnout for voting at elections.
So it wouldn’t necessarily be fair to take the voice of a minority, as a majority. For example, the 2013 referendum had a turnout of 45%, whereas the 2011 election had a voter turnout of nearly 70%
Personally I believe it is important to respect the wishes of the public. However, there is a big ‘but’ in this statement. The wording in referenda can be confusing and sometimes mischievous. The best law, is law that goes through the select committee process where it is challenged and subjected to proper investigation by a multitude of experts. That way we can ensure there is less chance of unintended consequences, where the cure can sometimes be worse that the illness. In my opinion, that was the result of the legalisation of psychoactive substances. The answer, therefore, is that I believe politicians should take notice of citizens’ referenda but, for the reasons above, not be bound by them
Yes, we respect the results of CIR however think that they shouldn’t be binding on government.
Referenda is democracy at its best but only if the wording is impartial. It is critical that the public is well informed and there is a level playing field between both sides as regards to power and money
Do you support the withdrawal of psychoactive substances? If so, how will your party manage the consequences?
The Government’s position has always been that NOT using psychoactive substances is the best option for any individual.
In May we passed legislation which removed all remaining “legal highs” from the shelves. Police and Psychoactive Substances Authority enforcement officers visited retail premises to ensure they were aware of their obligations. Retailers were advised that they need to secure all product and return it to the wholesaler and wholesalers were advised that they will be required to recall all the product from their customers.
Already I’ve seen the positive effect this change has had on people visiting the outlet store near my office in Levin.
We also considered the people who may be dependent on the products removed from the market. Advice from the Ministry of Health (MOH) was an expected 150-200 people may require a greater level of withdrawal management than usual. We have been advised that the addiction treatment sector can manage this demand within its existing resources.
The MOH has updated the advice on its website for the general public about help with withdrawal from these products. It has also developed advice for treatment services and is producing information for police, doctors, ambulance services, public health units, Corrections and the education sector.
The MOH will be working with addiction services which will include weekly monitoring and advice regarding the issues for users in contact with addiction treatment services.
Yes. These drugs are clearly harmful, addictive, and damage our community. We have all seen the horror stories of the effects these drugs are having on young our people.
Only after Labour announced that it would propose a policy to remove all psychoactive substances from shop shelves did the Government finally decide to take action.
The removal of those drugs has now gone ahead and there does not appear to have been a surge in demand for addiction treatment services although that may be because people who use them have stockpiled and haven’t yet run out. Services report that they are ready to respond if they need to.
However, Mental health and addiction services have been starved of funding and are not a health priority under National. Labour will make them a priority and will work focus on earlier intervention and timely access to support for people battling drug addiction.
The Green Party supported the original intent. A sensible evidence based approach to synthetic recreational drugs. The Government had power to remove dangerous products without a blanket ban – and we were frustruated that instead of taking a sensible harm minimisation approach the Government has attempted to sweep the problems under the carpet.
Yes, I do support the withdrawal of psychoactive substances
Do you support the GCSB spying on citizens of NZ?
The GCSB bill passed in Parliament last year updated the important laws that protect our citizens and our country – it is not about spying on Kiwis. It is about protecting national security.
I know the Prime Minister John Key is comfortable with the way the New Zealand’s intelligence agencies operate, and he is comfortable they operate within the law.
New Zealanders should have strong assurances that any surveillance operation on New Zealanders is qualified with a process that is absolutely transparent and robust.
This has not been the case. Indeed, New Zealand now resembles a bargain basement copy of a second hand spy thriller. Why did The Prime Minister shoulder-tap Ian Fletcher, who had no background in intelligence, to be head of our signals intelligence agency and then repeatedly lie about it? In the words of Dr Rodney Harrison, QC, “The Prime Minister’s attempt to reassure New Zealanders we are not sleepwalking into a total surveillance society is, unfortunately, flawed in its legal analysis and fails to convince.”
In reality, John Key has already sold NZ out by eroding our collective civil liberties for subservience to Washington. There are many people who believe that spying has moved away from the traditional ‘safety of the realm’, towards governments spying for the benefit of big business.
We need to press the “reset” button and form a cross-party agreement on how our intelligence agencies operate. The Kim Dot Com saga has been an embarrassment and I’m ashamed that we have forsaken civil liberties so that John Key can play golf with world leaders.
From NSA to the GCSB: “sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all and exploit it all” This is horrific. No, I do not support the GCSB spying on New Zealand citizens
Do you support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
Yes. New Zealand is a trading nation and we rely on selling our goods overseas to make a living. I see this first-hand as the Minister for Primary Industries.
Free trade deals have the potential to open up markets for Kiwi businesses like our local fruit and vegetable growers, giving a major boost to exports and jobs.
TPP countries account for 45 percent of New Zealand’s total trade, and 5 of New Zealand’s top 10 trading partners are included. The twelve participating economies have over 800 million potential customers.
New Zealand must not sacrifice cheaper medicines through Pharmac. It must not give up our sovereign right to regulate and legislate for our health provision, for protection of our environment, for our ICT and online security and privacy, or for the likes of the gambling, tobacco and alcohol industries. We must also preserve our democratic rights to regulate overseas corporations that operate here.
From what we know so far, if the negotiations are completed it will become much harder for the New Zealand government to look after our environment, improve our health, protect our workers and consumers, and promote the public interest. Foreign restrictions on investment could be rolled back even further and large overseas companies could sue the New Zealand government for millions in damages in secretive offshore tribunals, claiming that new laws and regulations undermine the value of their investments.
Transparency would be useful. Transparency is a must. Kiwis fear that the TPPA is being negotiated solely for the benefit of big corporations, and not in the interests of ordinary people.
Only recently has been the more startling news that our Government has been negotiating another secret deal, Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which aims to create a new set of global rules that are designed exclusively to serve commercial interests. If we thought the TPPA was secretive, TISA background documents remain secret for a total of four years after any deal is done. It aims to extend the model of liberalised and deregulated financial markets that brought us the global financial crisis!
The Prime Minister pledged that he would walk away from a TPPA deal that wasn’t good for New Zealand, but the secrecy ensures that the Government is the sole judge of the final package and I’ve lost any faith that the Prime Minister is negotiating for ordinary kiwis.
This agreement has had very little media coverage and the negotiations have been in secret. What we do know about it is based on leaked documents and detective work. TPPA would be irreparably detrimental to New Zealand’s sovereignty, economy, environment and people. It involves so much more than just trade.
The TPPA is the epitome of globalisation and this is a significant contributor to inequality, as discussed above.
It is set to give more power to multinational corporations who would be better positioned to take advantage of proposed benefits than medium sized New Zealand businesses – who are then less able to stay
competitive. Once signed the TPPA is binding and cannot be repealed by subsequent government. The TPPA would allow corporations the power to sue the NZ government for making new laws they believe could affect their NZ investments, in secretive international tribunals. A similar example recently is Philip Morris wanting to sue the Australian government for proposing plain tobacco packaging. Fear of legal action could affect the NZ
government when making laws for the benefit of the people, environment, our health, economic regulation and more.
It is possible that this agreement could impact our nation reclaiming its sovereign right to create our own money supply. At present, 98% of our money comes in to circulation by banks making loans. Banks, being large multinational corporations may object to losing their privilege of creating money from thin air, and charging interest on it. This debt based money system with a built in growth imperative could then be irrevocably entrenched forever.
I am pleased to see a local group in Kapiti campaigning to stop the TPPA. On all accounts we need to stop corporate globalisation from harming New Zealand.
Should Sky City have been given pokies in exchange for a conference centre?
Yes. For years the tourism industry and business sector have been asking for an international-sized convention centre to be built in New Zealand to ensure we tap into the growing market of high-value business visitors.
In an agreement with the Government, SkyCity will design, build, and operate a $402 million international convention centre in Auckland.
It will cater for 3500 international conference delegates at any one time. It will be a major asset for New Zealand and will generate major benefits.
It’s estimated to inject $90 million a year into the economy, with around 1000 jobs during construction, and 800 jobs once it is up and running. It is expected to attract about 33,000 more visitors to New Zealand each year, who are likely to travel and spend time around New Zealand.
Overall the number of pokie machines in New Zealand is falling by around 500 a year. This deal slows that reduction by around six months.
As part of the deal Sky City will have to introduce improved measures to deter problem gambling. These extra requirements will become part of Sky City’s Host Responsibility Programme, which is monitored constantly by experienced and professional Department of Internal Affairs inspectors.
The National Party received $60,000 from Sky City Management Ltd in 2005, and United Future received $12,000 in the same year. During the 2010 Auckland mayoralty race, John Banks was given $15,000 by the casino.
These three parties which received donations from Sky City are the people that ensured Key’s ‘Sky Deal’ had a majority in Parliament. As Winston Peters said at the time “This just looks like payback time for Sky City, as the National-led government hands out favours to its big business chums while ignoring the social costs of problem gambling.”
Gambling needs to be regulated and the harm mitigated. One organisation that was entrusted with the responsibility of minimising harm was The Problem Gambling Foundation. It was doing such a great job of pointing out the awful decisions of this government that it found itself stripped of its government contract (the courts have since found the government acted illegally). So to answer the question – no.
The cost of the casino is $402 million. That equates to 40 days of interest payments on our national debt. There are significant social risks by encouraging gambling. Is this worth 40 days of interest payments? No