In New Zealand it’s easy to get caught up with party politics and never really learn about the people standing in your own electorate. This election I’ve tried to give every candidate (in Auckland and Wellington) a voice by asking them 5 questions. Read more about the series here.
Incumbent: Phil Goff | Labour
Standing in 2014:
Mahesh Bindra | NZ First
Barry Coates | Green
Paul David | Conservative
Phil Goff | Labour
John Minto | Mana
Parmjeet Parmar | National
What do you think characterises the Mt Roskil Electorate?
Mt Roskill is a diverse electorate. Almost half of electors are born overseas and it is the most ethnically diverse community in the country.
It is diverse too in terms of income levels from deprived areas to wealthy ones. It is characterised by people who come to New Zealand with hopes for opportunity and a better life for their families.
What do you think the most important issue is for New Zealanders? Do you think this is the same for New Zealanders living in the Mt Roskil Electorate?
The most important issues for New Zealanders and for Mt Roskill electors is the impact of Government policies on their families – job, incomes, homes, education and health. Too many of our community are being left behind. Kids whose parents may be working but who don’t earn enough or are paying such high rent that they can’t afford the things their families need.
The loss of the Kiwi dream of owning their own home. A local house recently sold for $765,000 and the land agent said it was only really fit for tearing down.
The erosion in real terms of spending on health and education undermines critical investments in every family’s future.
What is your pet piece of policy? Why?
I like the proposal to turn the dole for school leavers into an incentive payment for employers to take on additional apprenticeships for unemployed school leavers. That way our kids develop the skills and confidence to get good jobs with good incomes that last a lifetime.
What will you do to improve the local Mt Roskil Community?
A key need, aside from the issues discussed above, is transport and traffic congestion. New developments, like the housing that will go on to the Three Kings Quarry site which will add 3000 extra residents, intensify pressure on our transport infrastructure. We need the City Rail link, which will double rail capacity, to start now, not in 2020, and we need to develop plans for rapid-transit rail from Mt Eden to Mt Roskill as well as the long awaited Southdown to Avondale link.
Motorways by themselves won’t do what is needed.
Why should I vote for you?
People will make their own mind up on who they vote for as their electorate representative. In previous elections I have won cross-party support. My ongoing commitment is to put all of the energy and hard work I am capable of into representing the interests of my electorate locally, in parliament and in government. People can judge me on my track record of many years in parliament and the work I have done as a minister. I don’t take their support for granted. Every day of representing your community in parliament is a privilege that has to be earned.
What do you think characterises the Mt Roskill Electorate?
Diversity. The electorate is richly diverse, and that makes it interesting and exciting place to live.
According to Electoral Commission records, the Mt Roskill electorate has a huge number of different ethnic groups, with more people born outside New Zealand than in it. We have the highest number of Muslims and Hindus of any electorate, with big populations from Indian and Chinese ethnicity, and a total of around 54 nationalities. You only need to visit areas of the electorate around Wesley, Akarana and Royal Oak to see the different cultures adding life and colour to our city.
The electorate is also diverse geographically, from volcanoes of Mt Roskill/Puketapapa, One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie, Big Kings/Te Tātua a Riukiuta to Oakley Creek/Te Auaunga (the longest river in the isthmus) and the wonderful Manukau Harbour coastline along Hillsborough, Waikowhai and Lynfield. The Puketapapa Local Board is working to put a Greenways plan into place to protect and restore that precious natural environment.
The electorate is also diverse in socio-economic terms, from some of New Zealand’s most socially deprived areas, such as Wesley, Walmsley and Akarana to the more affluent Maungawhau and Mt Eden South.
What do you think the most important issue is for New Zealanders?
You may have seen our billboards talking about ‘Love New Zealand’. Is because the New Zealand we love is under threat. People are right to be worried about our environment, particularly the deteriorating state of our rivers. We should be appalled by the level of child poverty, affecting almost one in four children. We all recognise the difficulty for the average person to be able to afford a decent standard of living, faced with high costs for housing, power, water and food. And we be worried about the state of our political system, with too much sleaze and corruption. This is not the New Zealand we love.
The Green Party is focusing on changing these issues at the election. We will ensure that there is a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy. The Greens will ensure that our rivers are clean enough to swim in and our beaches are safe from oil spills. We will ensure that every child has enough to thrive. And we will build a smarter greener economy that provides decent jobs.
Do you think this is the same for New Zealanders living in the Mt Roskill Electorate?
While these issues are important there is also a sharper focus on urban issues. The Green Party will invest in transport choices for Mt Roskill through getting rail moving in Auckland and bringing rail to Roskill, and invests in safe cycling, especially for kids going to school. The Greens will ensure that kids in decile 1-4 schools have funding to create ‘school hubs’ with coordinated support for health, counselling and advice, as well as community services.
What is your pet piece of policy? Why?
Climate change is not necessarily the policy that people would immediately identify as important, but it is crucial for our long term future and that of others in the world. Prior to becoming the Green Party candidate for Mt Roskill I was the head of Oxfam New Zealand for ten years. I have seen the impacts of climate change in the islands of the Pacific, in the arid zones of Africa and in low lying areas of Asia. We need to step up to the challenge of climate change, not only for own sakes, but also for the health of our planet and the welfare of millions of vulnerable people in the developing world. The Green Party has a strong climate change policy that will make the polluters pay for their emissions, and will return the income to the public through a tax free amount of $2000 for every taxpayer in New Zealand.
What will you do to improve the local Mt Roskill Community?
I am passionate about helping to build a great Mt Roskill community. While the role of an MP is more focused on the national level, there are important local issues that I can support communities on, if I get enough Parry votes for the Green Party and enter Parliament. I am 16th Party list and local support will be crucial in helping get me into Parliament.
I support the Puketapapa Local Board in the development of the Greenways project that is improving the local environment. But a strong push from Parliament is needed on some crucial issues. Along the Manukau harbour coast, there are ugly pylons that need to be replaced by underground power lines. I will support the local campaign.
I will make representations to Auckland airport over the proposed new Smart Path flight plans.
There needs to be full consideration given to increased noise for local people and proper consultation.
I will support local people in being able to have a say, and be heard, on local issues such as the development of the quarry in Three Kings and the development of the Three Kings retail centre. This should be an opportunity to create a more liveable and vibrant community, with full consideration given to the impact on home owners and those concerned about more traffic.
And I will support the enrichment of community and cultural life in Mt Roskill. With the diversity of cultures in Mt Roskill, I am struck by the lack of a cultural centre that would be able to support community activity and cultural performances. This would help highlight the richness of Mt Roskill’s cultures.
Why should I vote for you?
I have gained skills during my career. I have an economics degree from Auckland University and a Masters from Yale University. I have worked in business and can help build a stronger Mt Roskill and New Zealand economy. I have learned to listen and support communities through my role as the head of Oxfam and other organisations that help the vulnerable and improve the lives of needy people. And I have shown leadership in New Zealand and at the international level in fighting for fairness and sustainability. I am a dedicated father and family man with two teenage daughters, and I have strong principles of honesty and integrity.
I have made a difference outside of politics, and now I am hoping you will give me your support to make a difference as an MP. On election day, Party vote Green!!