Election Forum hears of frightening problems at Auckland Council
Thakur Ranjit Singh
Waitakere Ethnic Board hosted a public forum to provide an opportunity for people to hear their candidates speak on upcoming Local Government Elections at the Hub in Henderson on 19 September, 2013.
The Mayoral candidates who spoke at the forum were John Palino, John Minto, Reuben Shadbolt, Uesifili Unasa and Penny Bright. Ethnic Local Board candidates also addressed the forum and they included Peter Chan, Ann-Degia Pala and Susan Zhu.
|Five Mayoral Candidates present during Waitakere Ethnic Board (WEB) Forum on Local Government election in Auckland. From left, JOHN PALINO, JOHN MINTO, UESIFILI UNASA, REUBEN SHADBOLT and PENNY BRIGHT.|
Following is a synopsis of respective presentation by five mayoral candidates.
He was born, raised and educated in New Jersey, USA.
He built his career in the restaurants of Los Angeles and New York before making his home in Auckland in 1996. Over the years, he has established a range of successful businesses and pursued many projects in hospitality, marketing and media.
“My passion for helping people, problem-solving and creating opportunities for others have driven me to stand for the Auckland Mayoralty. I believe that my business acumen and international experience is an asset to the growth and development of New Zealand’s largest city, “he said.
|JOHN PALINO: my business acumen and international experience is an asset to the growth and development of New Zealand’s largest city|
Palino’s mantra is to serve the people. He believes multiculturalism is a strength that Auckland should use and promote more. He believes in decentralization whereby Manukau and New Lynn could be developed as viable CBD. If elected as Mayor, he would promote more business growth in these areas in order for people living out South and West Auckland to remain working in their home areas, hence ease the gridlock that Auckland is plagued with.
Palino views public transport as one major issue needing priority, where he would emphasize on park and ride facilities at all train and bus stations where there is a demand. To ease transport situation, he would develop areas near public transport.
John Minto is a political activist best known for his involvement in the protests against the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand.
“Auckland is as an unequal city, where there is the very wealthy and very poor people living. We will reduce rates and council charges for low-income families who pay a much higher proportion of their income on rates and council charges than other Aucklanders”, he said.
|JOHN MINTO: Fighting for living wage of minimum $18.40 per hour, and concerned at unreasonably high executive salaries which need to be cut back, and Council needs to finance more council rental homes|
His main policies include free public transport, using the roading budget to fund it. He believes Council needs to finance more council rental homes and living wage needs to be increased to a minimum of $18.40 per hour for council employees and employees of council contractors
He also expressed shock at the extremely and unreasonably high salaries of executives and promised to cut them out and bring them to a more reasonable level. Recent report shows CEO and Watercare CEO get some $365 per hour or over $3,000 per day while 1,500 staff get over $100,000 with 113 getting over $200,000.
41 year old Reuben Shadbolt is no new person to Mayoral race. He is son of former Waitemata Mayor Tim Shadbolt, born and raised in Auckland city.
“For generations my family have fought against Fascism and corruption and for Justice and democracy, in New Zealand and internationally. I being a politician is not a decision; it is a response to injustice, the destruction of democracy in my country and my city and the values that both my parents taught me,” he said.
|REUBEN SHADBOLT: Standing in Mayoral race in response to injustice and the destruction of democracy in my country and my city|
Shadbolt says that he was strongly guided by a moral compass and saw his world through ethical eyes. , and that is why he felt a genuine responsibility to make a stand politically in local body. He suggested going more towards green policy and increasing living wage to $18.00 an hour.
Of Samoan descent, Unasa grew up in West Auckland, attending Kelston Boys High School before undertaking tertiary studies in politics, history and theology. He is a minister of the Methodist Church of New Zealand and since 2004, the Maclaurin Chaplain to The University of Auckland.
Unasa is Chairperson, The Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel, and currently involved with the Living Wage campaign and NZ Constitutional Review, among others.
|UESIFILI UNASA: Concern at lack of diversity within Council - and need for Auckland Council to embrace greater level of genuine diversity and multiculturalism at as all levels, rather than just token and ceremonial representation.|
“I will ensure that council represents all 180 ethnic communities living in Auckland, “he said. He expressed his concern about lack of diversity within the Council, Board and staff make up. “Currently there is no ethnic diversity within the higher up positions in council, “Unasa said. He added that mindset of the Council needs to be changed to embrace greater level of genuine diversity and multiculturalism at as all levels, rather than just token and ceremonial representation.
Penelope Mary Bright (Penny Bright)
59 years old Penny Bright clarifies she is “not yet in my prime.”
“I describe myself as a 'judicially recognized 'Public Watchdog' on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters, arrested 22 times,” she said, adding that she helped to set up a branch of Halt All Racist Tours (HART) in her seventh form
“I have also been described in the NZ Herald as an 'anti-corruption campaigner' in the fight for more transparency and accountability particularly at local government,” she added. She believes that “big corrupt corporates control Auckland through Council Controlled Organisations “(CCOs) where unelected businesspeople run the Auckland region like a business, by business, for business. CCO must go.’” , she said. Penny also believes in cutting out consultants and private contractors.
|Part of the Audience|
She highlighted the importance of public transport, being more and affordable by buying back Private bus companies that once Council owned and sold out. She believes more jobs needed to be created and sense of community needs to be bought back into Auckland. She advocates that Council needs to provide more open and transparent disclosure on how our rates are used, as she has refused to pay her rates for non-compliance of this request.
|Former Chair of Massey-Henderson Local Board,VANESSA NEESON (left) with Rose Li, fiancee of Mayoral Candidate John Palino. Vanessa claims Auckland Council has failed to apply consistency in rating, over-rating Waitakere to subsidise other areas.|
The public discussion that ensued heard that Auckland Council has not lived up to its promises. It fails to reflect the colour and diversity in its makeup, has over bulging staffing levels, borrows heavily that is heading the council to bankruptcy, have acute public transport problems, has failed to deliver economies of scale, has Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) that are not really controlled by Council and has failed to apply consistent rules across the council. Former Chair of Henderson Massey Local Board, Vanessa Neeson accused the Council for over-rating Waitakere to a tune of some $14m of rates which subsidises underrated areas like Rodney and North Shore.
Local Board ethnic candidates spoke about the need for ethnic voice to be heard in the council. Peter Chan felt that quality ethnic diversity in local and Central government was lacking. He feels Council needed more ethnic diverse people on boards to be able to best showcase Auckland as a Multicultural vibrant city to the world. Ann-Digia Pala, as an ethnic leader for over 20 years involvement in the community is passionate about promoting the ethnic voice in the Council. Susan Zhu urged more ethnic people to vote in Local elections. She pointed out her Whau area has 34% Asian population and this is not reflected in the Council.
Hence she feels the Asian viewpoint could only be promoted if more Asian were in Local governments. A clear message from ethnic board candidates was for ethnic and migrant communities to vote to ensure they elect people with empathy to their needs and reflects the colour of the super city population.