26 September 2023

Meet the Candidate Evening

City candidates clash – but not impolitely

It was policies, not personalities, that took a hammering when a pair of minor-party candidates took the podium with Invercargill’s two MPs.

The public meeting hosted by Rotary clubs and the Southland Business Chamber on Thursday was notable for good behaviour. As for good thinking, that remained a matter for voters.

It was an opportunity for political newbies David Kowalewski of NZ Loyal and Judith Terrill of Vision NZ to mix it with a pair with established political track records, National’s Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds and Labour List MP Liz Craig.

Kowalewski started disarmingly: “I am not a politician and I didn’t want to do this – when Liz (Gunn) rung me and asked if I would stand, I cried. Because this is not what I want to do with my life.

“But I care about this country and I’m deeply concerned about what’s happening … I couldn’t find a good reason to say no to Liz.’’

With a background in farms and greenkeeping he said: “I feel slightly under qualified and overwhelmed, but I couldn’t let fear stop me.’’

He said the election was like a magician doing a trick – people were watching the performer, who was there to be a distraction to what was really going on.

The established parties were “laughing at us – they don’t care, really, who gets in because at the end of the day it’s the World Economic Forum, and the World Health Organisation and the UN and all these globalists that are imposing rules and regulations we have to jump to’’.

Loyal NZ would scrap income tax and replace the tax system with a 1% transactional tax.

At present neither the top nor bottom earners were paying much. It was the middle class carrying the massive tax burden, he said.

“Under a 1% transactional tax your money’s yours. Every time you use it, we take 1% of that to run the country.’’

Judith Terrill said Southland had a pioneering spirit and local businesses would do much better if central government would “leave us alone to get on with our own business”.

“We are not children. We are a problem-solving province – let us solve our problems.’’

She aligned with the Vision party, which comes under the Freedoms NZ umbrella headed by Brian Tamaki and Sue Grey and said that her work as a South Invercargill pastor had involved her with many organisations that worked with people “at the bottom’’.

She pledged that if in Parliament she would not do as so many others had, and change her mind on anything she said during the campaign.

Parents, not the Government, should control what children were taught, she said, and she spoke of one local case of a boy who had walked out of a lesson “about boys being girls and girls being boys’’, after which he had not wanted to go back to school.

As a result, “Oranga Tamariki came knocking on the parents’ door’’.

At no stage had it asked the boy why he did not want to go back to school.

Though the crowd of about 50 was mostly quiet, Terrill received some of the most ardent applause of the night when she said her party would reinstate teachers and nurses who had been mandated out of their jobs.

In health, Vision’s policies include a review of the country’s “extreme abortion law’’.

When candidates were asked how they would contribute to the province if their parties weren’t in Government, Penny Simmonds, reflecting on her time on the Opposition benches was especially emphatic.

“Well I’ve had three years’ practice in this and I don’t want any more,’’ she said.

“I spent 23 years running the SIT (Southern Institute of Technology) getting things done and making Southland a better place and I’ve found it increasingly frustrating in Opposition.’’

Agriculture, business, and health sectors and the SIT were all under pressure from “the enormous amount of regulations that don’t make sense’’.

“This Government is spending 80% more than it did when they came in, in 2017 – $1 billion more every week, after week, after week.

“I would be really interested in a show of hands from anyone who thinks we are getting 80% better health service, 80% better education, 80% better law and order and housing and infrastructure. It simply isn’t happening.‘’

Liz Craig said the past few years had been pretty tough for the country, with Covid 19, significant weather events and the cost of living all having impacts, but during that time Labour had been supporting people and would continue to do so.

She cited the Government’s investment in the Just Transition initiative for the province’s economic diversification, alongside support during the Covid pandemic, the city’s CBD and Murihiku Marae developments and Stead St stopbanking, support for engineering and manufacturing initiatives, and harnessing expertise in primary industries.

Making sure Southland became a centre of excellence in sustainable agriculture technology was particularly important at a time when overseas consumers and supply chains were increasingly asking what the sustainability bottom line was.

She said a lot of an MP’s most important work was making sure local people could connect with the services they needed.

ACT candidate Scott Donaldson and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis candidate Kevin O’Connell were unable to attend. Parties that did not have an Invercargill candidate were not invited.

Source: stuff.co.nz – 25 September 2023

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