Below are just some of the questions asked of the Council election candidates this year by various groups and organisations – along with my responses (often constrained by word limits).
First up is the (lengthy) questionnaire by Policy Local which is the local government version of the popular policy comparison tool published on The Spinoff at the 2017 general election. Policy Local will once again be published on The Spinoff, which is read by over 1 million New Zealanders each month, and will be promoted by Local Government New Zealand as part of the VOTE2019 campaign.
· Your climate change and resilience policies
- Develop a holistic approach so that we know where we get the most bang for our buck across the region.
- Support private industry in delivering services that help us reach our goal of sustainable living, as the ratepayer cannot do this alone.
- Stop talking and start doing, as a better investment of the available funding in this area.
· Your environment and biodiversity policies
- Prioritize the protection of our endangered species, once they are gone they are gone.
- Shift the focus from waste management to waste prevention – ambulance at the bottom of the cliff scenario.
- Protect our waterways from pollution, contaminated aquifers is not a situation we want to be in.
· Your freshwater policies
- Monitor and reduce the nitrate levels in local waterways.
- Effectively enforce Government Policies such as the NPS on Fresh Water Management and the NES For Plantation Forestry
- Focus on cleaning up urban waterways.
· Your governance and engagement policies
- Create a culture of honest dialogue with our ratepayers.
- Hold a referendum on any projects that have a significant rating impact across the region.
- Enable Council meetings to be live-streamed and reduce the number of closed door meetings.
· Your housing and planning policies
- Prioritise a review of Council policies to be more enabling of outside-the-box housing options such as tiny homes and cohousing options.
- Review Council housing to see if we can deliver more and better housing via a partnership with other organisations.
- Roll out the intensification policies across all of our urban areas.
· Your jobs and economy policies
- Promote eco-tourism in the Tasman region over freedom camping.
- Encourage value add businesses to work with the primary sector in Tasman.
- Work with businesses to provide better pathways for the youth of Tasman to remain in the region while following a positive career path.
· Your rates and revenue policies
- Maintain the Council debt cap at current levels with a view to reducing debt.
- Stop subsidising poor business practise across the region with scarce ratepayer resources.
- Encourage private enterprise to deliver services rather than competing against them with ratepayer subsidised schemes.
· Your recreation and culture policies
- Promote the wonderful sporting facilities that we have in this region.
- Encourage more people into active transport and active recreation – celebrate the fact that we live in the best part of the world.
- Ensure that our investment in museums and public facilities is benefiting the Tasman region specifically.
· Your transport policies
- Working with the Nelson Tasman Transport Trust to establish the Wakefield bus trial.
- Working with private enterprise to increase the connectivity of the Richmond transport loop.
- Incentivise more ride sharing options
· Your utilities and services policies
- Deliver the National Standards for Drinking Water on all Council supplies – without bankrupting those connected.
- Work smarter to solve our recycling issues by partnering with private enterprise.
- Manage our roading contracts better. It is not acceptable to wait until a project is overdue before getting involved.
· Your candidate profile
Why are you running for election?
- I think Tasman is Terrific! And everyone wants to live here. But, unfortunately, the Tasman lifestyle is out of most people’s budgets. Wages are too low and the cost of living is too high for most young families and retirees. You deserve better representation to address the inequality in Tasman.
Why will you make a good elected representative?
- I have many generations of working-class history in Tasman. I would like to see us return to the “good old days” when anyone prepared to work hard could make a go of it. My background in running my own businesses gives me good understanding of how every dollar counts.
- Stop the out-of-control spending that will see future generations burdened with huge interest costs.
- Stop passing on huge environmental debt to future generations, we need to clean up our act.
- Generate a local economy that can pay a living wage on which people can afford to live in Tasman.
Are you currently an elected member of local government?
What is your current role in local government?
- Waimea Moutere Ward Councillor
What was your job/role before running for local government?
- Self-Employed businessman
What suburb/area do you live in?
What is your age?
· Contact information
Next is a questionnaire submitted by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI).
NZKGI work to advocate, protect and enhance the commercial and political interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers. We represent kiwifruit growers, giving them their own voice in industry and government decision making. To help our growers make informed choices when it comes time for them to vote in local body elections, it would be appreciated if you could answer the following questions from our growers. Some of the questions directly relate to the kiwifruit industry while others are more general. We have sought to include questions that are specific to your region. Your answers will go a long way in providing kiwifruit growers with the information to be better informed. All responses will be published on NZKGI website and will be sent to over 3,000 subscribers of the NZKGI Weekly Update newsletter on or around 30 August 2019 and to give you fair warning, responses not received will also be published.
Q1. Kiwifruit is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export with New Zealand supply of kiwifruit forecast to increase from 123 million trays (2017) to nearly 190 million trays in 2027. Do you think the Council has a role in preparing for and supporting this growth, if not why? How will you support industry growth?
- As a 50% owner of Port Nelson, we are keen to support the growth of the Kiwifruit industry. We also need to make sure that the Government deliver on upgrades to the State Highway through Motueka as was scheduled and also the Richmond to Nelson corridor to enable the fruit to be transported in an efficient manner.
Q2. What is your view on the growth of kiwifruit in your region, in respect to urbanisation, protection of productive land and environmental pressures?
- I am not aware of urbanisation pressures on local kiwifruit land. We do need to protect our productive land. Kiwifruit growers need to ensure they are producing in an environmentally sound manner – this is as much for their own market accessibility as much as it is for the local environment.
Q3. Being able to provide seasonal accommodation to house workers is essential when attracting staff to the regions. Do you think, from a compliance level, that it is becoming overly burdensome for industry to provide seasonal accommodation to workers due to the consenting process?
- A lot of the legislation that Councils are tasked with enforcing is Central Government imposed. However, we do have issues with housing that does not fit in the typical box being somewhat arduous to consent and that definitely needs addressing if we are to provide housing that is affordable in our region.
Q4. What drives you to run as a candidate in the local body elections? What do you hope to achieve?
- I believe that as a Council we are under-delivering. Our region has the 2nd lowest GDP in the country and wages that are 14% below average. Most of the primary industry production leaves our region unprocessed. We have a strong primary production industry in Tasman that we need to support, but we need to encourage more value-adding businesses. We need to encourage innovative technologies to support our traditional industries, encourage cottage industries and help them progress to larger businesses.
Region specific questions
Q1. Freedom camping is a hot topic in the region. Considering the labour shortages within the region, what are your views on how we encourage freedom campers into the area while respecting the rights of ratepayers?
- I think the horticulture industry needs to step up and start paying workers a living wage. It is much easier to attract workers who can afford to pay for their accommodation and have money left over to spend in our region than it is to burden the ratepayers with trying to clean up after freedom campers.
Q2. Did you support the building of the Waimea Community Dam last year? Now that it has the go ahead will you support or oppose it? If you oppose it, will you seek to stop it going ahead?
- I did support the building of the Waimea Dam until Waimea Irrigators Ltd reneged on the user pays model that the Dam was initially promoted as. We now have a situation where the majority of Kiwifruit growers in the Tasman region are subsidising a handful of horticulturists on the Waimea plans (some of which have already cashed out to corporate investors) while having to supply their own water needs with no help from the general ratepayer. Those growers who have acted prudently by farming in water-rich regions and by building their own irrigation ponds have been penalized.
- There is no benefit to seeking to stop the Waimea Dam at this stage.
Questions asked by the Mapua and Districts Community Association.
1. The Dam. The dam was the subject of much debate and conjecture – it is now going ahead.
What is your commitment to seeing the project completed and are you prepared to keep the ratepayers fully and transparently informed of its progress and financial outcome?
We have been locked into the Waimea Dam contractually.
I will absolutely be keeping ratepayers informed of its progress and the financial costs.
2. How will you ensure that the Tasman region moves towards more sustainable practices?
We have a number of initiatives in place to move Tasman toward sustainability ranging from a waste minimization strategy, Freshwater Land Advisory Groups, and a stocktake of our current Green House Gas emissions so we know where can best improve.
But on a personal level, if elected Mayor I pledge to spend a lot more time in Tasman than flying around the region to Local Government New Zealand junkets.
3. Recent surveys of Mapua and Districts & the Tasman area have indicated that while most residents currently use private vehicles as their main transport, this is because there is no choice.
Please tell us what support and practical commitment you will make over the next three years to support residents in this Ward to develop affordable, regular community transport systems between Motueka and Richmond (through Tasman/Mariri and Mapua)
I worked with the Nelson Tasman Transport Trust to help initiate the Wakefield bus trail service. I have been talking to a private enterprise about extending the public transport services around the greater Richmond area. And I am happy to continue to work with these groups to see what options can be provided between Motueka and Richmond.
4. Regular communication between councillors and community members is vital to effective representation.
Are you prepared to submit a monthly report on your advocacy and work as our Ward councillor in advance of the Monthly Community Association meetings in the Ward so the residents are informed and can discuss/follow-up issues with you?
I have been a regular attendee of the MCDA meetings over the past 3 years and am happy to provide written updates in conjunction to the verbal updates that I have been providing.
5. In recent times there has been an instance when Council has undertaken a community consultation process and the results of that consultation have been misrepresented by TDC staff when finalising a plan and presenting recommendations to council for decision making and plan acceptance.
a) How would you ensure TDC staff represent community consultation accurately?
I have just been told by the mayor that I would be in breach of the Code of Conduct if I said
So instead, what I will say is that there is room for improvement in our consultation process. Especially when the likes of the previous CEO Lindsay McKenzie notes “that the consultation is not a ‘popularity vote’.”
Tasman District Council agenda 1 st Feb 2018
I am not sure what the consultation process is for if not to ascertain feedback on whether the ratepayers think Council is on the right track or not. I will certainly be seeking a culture change if elected mayor.
b) What action would you take if such discrepancies were brought to councils attention?
There is not a lot of room to revisit the past decisions but certainly looking ahead I would hope there are not more instances in the future, and I would undertake to revisit future decisions where this can be shown to be the case.
1. Under the current Mayoralty, TDC has achieved the 4th highest rates in the country, water rates at the top end, one of the highest debt limits and per capita debt of all regions, regular budget blow-outs, project overruns, and continuous under delivery of capital works.
a) Who is your preference for the next Mayor?
I think there is only one obvious choice for that role based on the track record of the past three years of voting in the Council chambers. It is easy to say what should have been done or what you would have done from the outside, but of the two candidates who were present, I think my voting record demonstrates prudent financial management and a desire for a more inclusive Council. So McNamara for Mayor!
b) What direction will you be actively taking on rates, debt and management of Council projects?
I am an advocate for not increasing the debt cap, unfortunately, we are going to face some tough decisions to keep it where it is. Rate increases have already been locked in to pay for the Dam, so it will be about minimizing any extra increases. Staff need to be held to greater account for the mismanagement of large projects in particular – obvious examples being Queen St, Bateup road, and the “unexpected” dam budget blow out.
2. Do support and endorse the building of a replacement community boat ramp on the edge of the Mapua Waterfront Park land. This is a correction to TDC’s actions in shutting down the effective, existing community boat ramp due to the commercialisation ambitions of the council of this area.
Your support and endorsement would involve –
a) Putting the project back on the Mapua Waterfront Area 10-year Master plan and working with the Mapua Waterfront Area Master Plan Working Group (MWAMPWG). It was omitted despite the majority of community supporting the project due to misdirection from TDC staff with a predetermined position of opposition to replacing the community boat ramp in Mapua.
b) Guaranteeing, agreeing for the use of the land and to partially funding the project in co-operation with other interested community parties.
In relation to A and B I can’t give any guarantees without seeing the proposal and how it addresses the issues raised by staff and what financial commitments are required. I acknowledge that the issue with the current boat ramp was not handled well by Council and have tried to work with the boat club in the past to help resolve the situation. I am happy to keep working with the people of Mapua to find the best solution possible.
c) Ensuring tenure on the wharf for the Tamaha Sea Scouts and Mapua Boat Club until a replacement building could be built on the land adjacent to the new boat ramp.
I am more than happy to see the status quo continue until such time as a better solution can be found.