Brittany Owens - The Opportunites Party

I was born, raised and educated on the North Shore, but have now settled in Warkworth. Growing up, like so many other children that don’t fit the standard pigeonhole system, I needed extra schooling assistance so as not to ‘slip through the cracks’. I was immediately attracted to The Opportunities Party’s education policy, which focuses on providing more time for teaching and less for testing. I recently decided to move out of the sales and financial industry to launch a start-up conservation project called The Big CleanUp for our coastlines, reserves, birds and marine life. I strongly support TOP’s environment policies, particularly our long-term goal of giving the environment rights within a written constitution. I’m passionate about looking after our environment and believe it only takes one person to initiate change. This can be through educating your peers, siblings, children and family around you – to hold a high standard of respect for our land. I’m a grounded and passionate person wanting to make New Zealand a smarter, cleaner, safer country now, and for the generations to come. It is time we pulled our heads out of the sand and tackled issues that threaten to undermine our society and our environment. Let’s do better.

How will you and your party address local housing issues?
TOP recognises that we have a massive housing issue NZ-wide, and our children are in danger of being locked out of the housing market. TOP’s Tax Fair Reform Policy will stabilise house prices until our wages can catch up, over time making housing much more affordable for all.

Is Rodney being well served by the health system as the district expands?
No, a growing population is putting stress on our health system, which has been proportionally under-funded. We need to be smarter about healthcare, putting more emphasis on prevention instead of treatment. Let’s start preventing our health issues, not being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

Where do you stand on immigration?
TOP’s Immigration policy is that migrants are welcome so long as they help lift the living standards of all New Zealanders. Unfortunately, our housing, health and education systems have not been able to keep pace with the increased demand from population growth. For that reason, we favour a reduced amount of immigration by only accepting highly skilled migrants in areas we have a real skill shortage.

What are the biggest environmental challenges and how will you address them?
Our marine life makes up 80 percent of our biodiversity, but over the last two generations we’ve seen it decline hugely. I recognised this recently when visiting Goat Island marine reserve at Leigh. This is a ‘no take’ zone and, compared with other areas, it is obvious the impact fishing and environmental degradation has had. TOP plans to change this by investing back into our oceans, rivers and lakes. This will be paid for by our ‘polluter pays’ policy and a levy on all tourists.

What is uppermost in your mind when it comes to local educational needs?
TOP’s education policy focuses on getting us out of the 20th century, looking more at soft skills, more on teaching and less on testing. Our education system needs to be tailored to our future generations’ needs. We need to make sure our children have the skills to thrive in a changing world.

Are there any particular law and order issues you think need to be tackled?
My biggest concern is the pace our prison numbers are growing. We have the second highest prison population per capita in the western world, behind only the United States. Each prison bed costs taxpayers $100,000 per year – and evidence shows sending criminals to prison does not reduce their likelihood of re-offending. Prisons are training grounds for criminals to become better criminals. TOP will reduce our prison population and spend savings on restorative justice programs, rehabilitation and education for criminals. We need to make sure our dangerous criminals stay locked up, but the ones we can help actually get help.

How will TOP ensure that there will be enough jobs in Rodney to match growth?
TOP’s Tax Policy will incentivise investment in businesses and help create jobs. Currently New Zealanders predominately invest in housing due to the tax-free returns. All other investments are taxed, but property is not. TOP will place a tax on assets, revenue collected will be returned to salary and wage earners by cutting income tax. Eighty per cent of New Zealanders will either be unaffected or pay less tax overall. As all investments are now taxed equally, more Kiwis will invest in businesses, probably their own, instead of property. Businesses will find the capital they desperately need and this will help create jobs.


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