Local candidates face up to community questioning at RSA

Candidates praised those who attended the meeting at the RSA for turning up to take part in democracy.

Five of the six candidates currently standing in the Whangaparāoa electorate put their case for votes to a gathering of around 75-80 people at the Hibiscus Coast RSA on August 27.

The meeting was hosted by Business Whangaparāoa.

Originally the Greens were sending a representative seeking the party vote, and when they pulled out, a mainly right-of-centre group remained – National, Act NZ, NZ Loyal and NZ First – with Labour’s candidate the sole voice from the left.

Tax, in all its forms, was a topic raised by candidates, and the audience.

While National MP Mark Mitchell, Act’s Simon Angelo and NZ First’s Janina Massee were all about reducing taxes (with Mitchell noting his party’s policy on this was soon to be released), NZ Loyal went even further. Its candidate, Jeanette Wilson, said it is a core policy for the party to get rid of income tax, company tax and GST entirely. She said instead, 1 percent of every financial transaction would be taxed. 

Labour’s tax policy has yet to be released, but its candidate Estefania Muller Pallarés said tax should be taken from the higher end of the scale, noting that Labour had already raised the top tax rate and changed the way that Trusts are taxed. 

Candidates were questioned on climate change with views split among the audience. When Jeanette Wilson questioned the science of climate change there were loud interjections and cheers from the audience; and when Muller Pallares said there was no doubt that climate change is real, there were further shouts and cheers from the floor.

Angelo said Act would “raise prosperity”, as wealthier countries are better able to tackle environmental issues. Currently China, the United States and India lead the top carbon emitters. 

Mitchell said National would lean into and invest in science, and have a heavy focus on renewables such as wind farms.

Massee said NZ First would work to restore biodiversity, “because economic success relies on nature – customers place a high value on sustainability”.

All candidates were in agreement that better infrastructure was needed locally to support rapid growth. Angelo pointed out that Act was the only party to oppose the government’s higher housing density plan and Mitchell said “National is committed to a 4-lane Penlink”.

Co-governance was also raised, with Massee firmly against. “The country’s name is New Zealand, and we would change all government department names back to English,” she said.

Angelo said Act supports a referendum on a “Treaty Principals Act”, especially Article 3 [focused on equal rights].

Audience members spoken to by Hibiscus Matters, none of whom wanted to be named, praised the orderly way the meeting was conducted, by MC John Davies, with several saying hearing from candidates directly was helpful as they decide who to vote for.

A number were bemused by angry references to the government’s Covid-19 response by NZ First and NZ Loyal’s candidates. “I thought we’d left all that behind,” one person said. “I am pro-choice, but mistakes would have been made whoever was in power. I wish they’d stop banging on about it now.”

“I think NZ First has lost its way a bit,” one voter said. “They could lose supporters by going down rabbit holes. Many older people prefer their news to be fact checked, and don’t spend lots of time looking for the latest crank theory online.”

The other local candidate, Craig Laybourn of Democracy NZ, was unable to be at the meeting.

Election special coming up
All local candidates have been invited to answer questions, including on local issues, for Hibiscus Matters’ Election Feature, to be published in our next edition, out September 18. • There is another ‘meet the candidates’ event on October 12 in Silverdale.