Our September event in Wellington invited political representatives from across the spectrum to inform our audience of their policies as New Zealand gets ready to vote on 17 October 2020. With two referendums and two votes (party and electorate) there's a lot to think about.
Our politician panel:
Ginny Anderson, Labour Party
Brett Hudson, National Party
Julie Anne Genter, Green Party
Tākuta Ferris, Māori Party
Geoff Simmons, TOP - The Opportunities Party
We appreciate our wonderful MC Maggie Tweedie from RadioActive FM who managed to keep the conversation moving with so many hot topics.
After candidate introductions, Maggie guided us through a series of questions on the big issues. Topics addressed included climate action, education, and plans for recovery post-COVID. The following quotes are simply snippets of the larger conversation had throughout the event. The full event was live-streamed and can be watched on our Facebook page.
Question 1: We have a very small window to act on climate change in this country. As a candidate what climate action are you supporting in NZ?
Julie Anne - “The Green Party has made climate change a major priority. We passed the Zero Carbon act and managed to insert consideration around climate change into a whole lot of different things that government is doing. But I won’t lie, we need to go much further and faster in the next three years, particularly in transport. That is where we need to make big reductions in carbon emissions.”
Geoff - “The big issue with climate change is that under current projections, the biggest thing that we are going to do over the next five to ten years isn’t reduce emissions - we are going to plant pine trees. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a really crap response. We need to literally put the heat on processed heat, so that people stop using coal. Getting that carbon price up generates revenue. The biggest thing we need to do is energy efficiency - in our businesses and our homes - energy efficient appliances, insulation, ecc.
The other big thing we need to do is bring A and B closer together… people need to be able to easily get around the city without needing a car. This involves investing in our cities. We need to invest in councils to ensure they have money to build infrastructure.”
Brett - “We too supported the Carbon Zero Act. The other thing I’d like to see us focus on is in our primary sector. It’s finding technical mitigation so that we can bring them into an emissions scheme sooner. (Brett is speaking to the potential of genetic modification - for example, there is a genetically modified Rye strand in the US that can reduce cow emissions.) Our current law prevents this agricultural research in New Zealand.”
Ginny - “One of my greatest fears is that all the good work we do now just gets subsequently unpicked by future governments.
The quality of our water right across New Zealand has been sucked into a lot of irrigation and there are higher rates of pollution. The quality of our natural environment needs to substantially improve if we want to hand it over to the next generation in the state that I was able to enjoy it in. We need a system in place where we can reward good behaviour and penalise bad behaviour.”
Tākuta - “A Māori view of looking after the environment involves working with a balance. Until you address the capitalist view of how things roll in the world, you’ll never achieve it. You can’t act in 3 year cycles when you’re thinking 1,000 years. It really comes down to how committed you are to the future. A Māori view is that we are ultimately committed to the future, because the future involves our tamariki and our mokopuna. We want to ensure that what has been there for us is enhanced, and still there for them."
Question #2: The Treaty of Waitangi as the point around which everything else in NZ should revolve. How can the constitutional change lead to social change in Aotearoa?
Tākuta - "The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding of the partnership between the Māori and primarily the British. There’s a lot of myth dispelling that needs to go on around the Treaty, so we raise the common understanding of what it is, and then we can get on with living an honorable life with one another.”
Julie Anne - “There is a massive journey that we all need to go on as a society to fundamentally decolonise Aotearoa.”
Question #3: According to Stats NZ, the number of people not in labour force has risen to 37,000 this quarter. The number of employed people fell 11,000. What are your policies on employment in the next election cycle?
Geoff - “COVID has given us a sneak peak behind the curtains, of the future. Automation and AI will destroy 1 in 8 jobs in the next decade. That means that in your lifetime, there won’t be just one job in your lifetime. People are going to need to retrain several times in their lifetime.
We support a universal basic income - give everybody $250 a week, no questions asked. That supports the working poor, the unpaid workers, the people who are retraining.”
Brett - “We need to jump start confidence in business. We need to help business owners to take risks now. Now is the time for our government to spend some money, otherwise the recovery will be far too slow and too many livelihoods will be wrecked.”
Ginny - “We need to pay people a whole lot more. Property prices are so high, rent is so high, and wages need to catch up.”
Question #4: What are your policies on Māori education? Referring to compulsory Te Reo and Māori History in schools.
Tākuta - “We’d love to see a unique identity, and an indigenous one, for Aotearoa.
One thing that we know about education is that it has long failed and misunderstood Māori. Māori do not succeed in the current education system. Young Māori and Polonesians are the largest demographic coming up in this country, roughly the same size as the baby boomer generation.
What needs to be more commonly understood is that the future of the country is dependent on young Māori receiving a good quality education. What’s good for Māori is good for Aotearoa, New Zealand.”
Question #5: How will your party tackle the economic and health related outcomes of COVD-19 in the coming years?
Tākuta - “Whānau First is an assertion that the Treaty partner and indigenous people of the country should get at least 25% of the COVID recovery fund and 25% across government spending to deal to Māori issues and Māori places.”
Julie Anne - “Ultimately, there’s no point giving people more money if we don’t address the problems in our housing market. We need serious market rental regulations.”
Geoff - “In terms of supercharging the economy post-COVID, we need to move away from GDP and focus much more on productivity. Work smarter not harder. Add value, not volume. New Zealand is very good at coming up with new ideas, but we are terrible at commercialising them.”
Brett - “We need to find a way to sooner, rather than later, to safely bring people into our country whether it’s a form of future tourism or for education.”
Ginny - “Jobs, jobs, and jobs. Making sure that people are working, which is a real challenge right now. Giving people opportunities through free apprenticeships. Giving people employment opportunities that are meaningful and contribute to the building of our country when we really need it is going to be critical to how we pivot and adapt to a completely changed world.”
We ended the evening with a few questions from the audience and the following takeaway actions:
Ensure that you are registered to vote in the upcoming election! Don't be a vote ghost.
Use and share tools like Vote Compass, Policy Local by the Spinoff and On the Fence.
Watch and share the upcoming live-streamed debates.
Watch and share social media content like Whakaaro Fridays and Alice Snedden's Bad News.
Support organisations that increase access to civic dialogue such as JustSpeak.
We appreciate all the parties who helped make this evening a success: our organisers, the politicians, our MC, the team at BizDojo, and of course the audience! A big thank you to Zambrero for coming through with the delicious guacamole & chips, as well as Yealands Estate Wines, Parrotdog and JuiceHead Beer for the refreshing beverages. Keep informing yourself and get out to vote on October 17th!