Debating Lambton

Thursday night was the Lambton council candidates’ meeting and it featured a variety of amusing and some rather horrifying snippets…

Labour candidate, Mark Peck, said he’s good at sniffing out waste in his cafe (creating mental pictures of him plugged into the downpipe), and that he “began” his family in Mt Victoria (several audience members looked horrified… more mental pictures of the logistics of that beginning).  Peck also cited an example of council waste: a park that had been grassed, then dug up, then regrassed, which didn’t work, so it was grassed again.  But he appeared to either ‘not hear’ or ignore the question of one of his fellow candidates regarding which park he was talking about… which was a bit odd and didn’t really finish the story properly.

But the long campaign is obviously taking its toll, with Peck adopting a rather abrasive, ranting style (with ill-fitting cuffs down over his knuckles), especially when talking about Council waste; always citing Queenstown’s zero rate increase – while ignoring that Queenstown district is deferring infrastructure expenditure.

When asked about governance experience, one candidate (Milton Someone – he’s likely to lose his deposit) said he didn’t have any – but he mentioned that a rhododendron has been named after him – although it’s not commercially available.

One stand out question was, in light of the costs of leaky buildings, and earthquake strengthening, which candidates would pledge to make Wellington GE-free? Audience and panel erupted, mainly in confusion; naturally, no answers given.

Independent candidate, Nicola Young, was almost eaten alive for saying she opposed the WCC implementing the Living Wage; the people seem to want it… along with rate decreases.  When Young took it further and said central government has financial support in place for those who are struggling (tax credits, working for families, social welfare), and that council roles have been restricted by recent amendments to the Local Govt Act… the screaming started. Amazingly, amongst the chaos Michael Appleby appeared to be backing what Young was saying.

Peck also seemed fixated with WCC CEO, Kevin Lavery’s role saying that “WCC’s pre-election is the CEO’s manifesto, not the Council’s” and that he was determined to cut Lavery down to size… which could be unusually short given Peck’s stature (‘Honey, I shrunk the CEO’, in cinemas soon?).  Sadly, several also got worked up over Lavery being a foreigner although there was no mention that four of the Mayoral candidates were born abroad, including the incumbent: England (CWB & Goulden), Hong Kong (Yan), Mumbai (What’s-his-name).  Of course it is rather easy to spot the Mayoral candidates who aren’t born here, as they trade elaborate Maori greetings in the same way that Kerry Prendergast coined her “tin-of-cocoa, a cup of cocoa and a car-door” greeting.

Green candidate, Iona Pannett was remarkably sane… talking about the need to use intergenerational debt for big infrastructure projects… but then she was also totally opposed to the big infrastructure projects that are on the table.

Finally, the chairwoman (also English!) had a water gun, but unfortunately not the personality to wield it effectively in the Aro St style… only using it once.  So nothing earth shattering, but a good campaign season outing none the less.

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