Bob Parker says the poor are not his problem
Looking over the voting papers for the local body elections one is left wondering who most of the candidates are, and more importantly what they stand for.
Having moved from my home town of Christchurch to Auckland, I now feel like I am behind on years of political intelligence. Genuine lefties in Auckland please share.
One thing that can be of great service to voters is candidate surveys. Candidate blurbs are invariably full of meaningless, meant to be reassuring banalities - in contrast surveys encourage candidates to nail their policy colours to the mast.
Stumbling across the website of the Southern Local Government Officers Union (SLGOU) I was very pleased to find this survey of Christchurch Mayoral Candidates. The two front runners for Mayor in 2007 are Megan Woods of 2021, and Bob Parker, a so called independent. I thought the answer to this question in particular highlighted a clear difference between the candidates.
SLGOU: "What if any example Council should set to overcome rising income inequality in the community?"
Megan Woods: "We need councillors who are committed to the creation of a socially just society and considers its success by the treatment of the most vulnerable in Christchurch."
Bob Parker: "It is not our job to resolve what, in my view, is a political question best directed at Central Government."
Parker was asked to give a single example, yet he failed to do so. Despite being a councillor now for some years, Parker obviously does not know of, or perhaps more importantly does not see it as council business to support ANY of the initiatives aimed at making life easier for Christchurch's less well off citizens.
There is the 70 year history of Christchurch City Council (CCC) owned social housing for a start. In fact the CCC have a stated policy: “To contribute to the community’s social well-being by ensuring safe, accessible and affordable housing is available to people on low incomes including elderly persons, and people with disabilities”.
If you are in a council flat, or know someone who is, don't vote for Bob Parker to be the landlord. If he is given the mayoral chains, he obviously will not see the poor as his problem.
Another mayoral hopeful, Byron Clark, gave another example of how the council could help those on low incomes and the planet at the same time - free public transport.
If I was still in Christchurch I would be happily voting for Megan Woods. Six months ago many people thought the Christchurch Mayoralty was going to be a one Bob race. Megan has run a campaign based on clear policies and it is pleasing to see that she is picking up support for this stance. Even the Press is predicting a real contest.
The SLGOU ought to be congratuated for their survey - its a worthy service to both their union members and the people of Christchurch. Faced with candidates who may slash council budgets and staff, a union would not be representing the interests of its members by staying silent under the misguided guise of political neutrality.
It would be good to make up a list of publically available candidate surveys for all the local bodies in New Zealand. If you know of one, please share the link in the comments. I would find one on the Auckland City Council candidates particularly useful :)