Title: In the centre ring: The Candidates! Credit: Joe Gilfillan Features Sunday 12th September 2004 - 12:00pm1094947200 Article: 412 Rights
MC Joe Gilfillan opens the GABA Mayoral Candidates Forum with sometimes tongue in cheek portraits of the Auckland candidates. Your Worship, Fellow Candidates, our Media Guests, GABA Members, Takatapui, Ladies and Gentlemen - Kia Ora, Good Evening, Welcome to the GABA Mayoral Candidates' Forum for the 2004 Local Body Elections. Your GABA executive this evening continues the tradition of staging the first public meeting of Auckland's Mayoral campaign that puts all the candidates on stage together, making sure once again that in this arena too it's OUR team that's first up and best dressed. Gridlock, The Corridor, who started it, who'll finish it, how much it's all costing, will it work, who'll pay for it, will it be a multi-laned multi-purpose affair, or what one Herald letter-writer calls a mere donkey track? It's a safe bet you will hear more about that from our candidates. Your interest might involve V8 Supercars, Liquor Bans, Arts Funding or the state of the footpath Nana and her friends walk on to their bus stop. Or your interest could stop at the front gate - is the rubbish being collected, when's the next inorganic pickup, what's happened to your rates and why does the ARC now want so darned much when your wages seem to be frozen! Young Aucklanders don't seem to be interested: the Auckland City Registrar of electors Mere Kingi told Harbour News young people couldn't be bothered with the local body elections because they were too busy living from hand to mouth. At that stage - late August - only half the 51,000 18-24 year-olds living in Auckland had registered to vote. Gay Issues? Well, this time round it's probably down to which candidate most genuinely embraces the total diversity that is now our city's rich tapestry, and of which our often fragmented community is part. Alongside that, which candidate is most likely to foster a suitable council endorsement of AK05, thus enabling support for a Hero Festival? And don't overlook the council response to Prostitution Law. The way the local Brothel bylaw is drafted, your favourite sex on site venue and the adult supplies stores where you have your toys on layby and charge your party pills are also hit. Now imagine the cost to you as ratepayers when the council scrambles lawyers to deal to these enterprises, and the owners line up our lawyers in defence. It will be a definitive court case, one of course that we are ready for: our community has outstanding legal expertise - some of it here this evening. You are one of this evening's audiences. Each of these candidates is well aware of the media here with us, with the potential to deliver anything that goes on in the room to a far greater slice of the electorate than we number. We're in for a great performance, so lets get to it - and let's give them the floor for a fair hearing: you'll have your chance to challenge them later. CHRISTINE FLETCHER: If your choose your Mayor soley on a proven track record of friendship toward, service to and support for OUR community, here she is. One of the many billboard nests around the city is next to that new pebble mosaic near John Radford's Sunken Buildings in Great Western Park on Ponsonby Road. I was walking past on my way home the other night when I saw a woman in orange and black up a ladder hammering away at one of the billboards. My eyesight being what it is I was quite close before I realised it was not just a supporter, but Mrs Fletcher herself. And she gave me this: It's worth reiterating Mrs Fletcher is no longer held captive as the National MP for Epsom, so victory at this election would mean this Independent candidate could be Mayor full-time. And remember that during her last term, it was she who scaled back Britomart which means whatever they do, the train station's working. Lets hear more about those goals for which she seeks a mandate: Christine Fletcher. JOHN BANKS: Leadership. Bold leadership. From the man who told New Zealand Today magazine he absolutely agrees with the assessment of him as overbearing, pedantic, arrogant, rude and pushy. Well, I worked with John Banks on the wireless for a few years at the most unsociable time of the day and I must say that never once was he rude to me. He always made great coffee - a skill honed among all the gay people in his food and beverage empire! As Mr Banks moved from Breakfast Talkback to the Mayoralty he said he'd leave his motormouth behind and avoid personal abuse and public rows. The Herald says he's fallen short of that aim. But how seriously should we take anything we read in a paper that gives space to Garth George. Actually, how seriously can you take the press at all: The Northern Advocate's offering candidates free editorial support when they buy an advertisement! Avondale/Mt Roskill was one of Mr Banks' strongholds last election. It's also where many of the pensioner housing units were that Bill Birch recommended the council sell, which they did. But remember Mr Birch's very valid question: why should the Auckland Ratepayers pay a second time for what they already paid Housing New Zealand to do? Hobson was another stronghold for Mr Banks - and now they're the people most up in arms about the proposed Eastern Corridor. Interesting to see the sale of half our airport shares, then the purchase of two marinas. But remember, Mr Banks has apparently sorted out Auckland City's serious debt problem. There's now nice new sand on the beach at Kohimarama. And our rates are now a user-pays calculation. But if you observe the poorest people now pay something over 35 per cent higher rates, Mr Banks will answer quite truthfully: rates have never been fair. As I imagine he's about to tell you himself, leadership is not about being popular. His other passions here are getting the job done, and being a cheerleader for Auckland. He's already served the country as a National MP and Cabinet Minister. Now he's seeking a second term as Auckland Mayor: John Banks. DICK HUBBARD: Dick Hubbard says he doesn't have enemies. He has people against him with different opinions, waiting to discover that he was right all along! That philosophy is part of what has helped him to the point where he now generates nearly $40 million in sales with just under 200 staff. That philosophy is part of what he says will help him run this city. With Mr Hubbard, it's not just about money. Ask his former friends on the Business Round Table. They clutched their pearls in bewildered horror when he enlightened them to the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. Not just profit, but also Social Responsibility and Environmental Concerns too. Mr Hubbard wants us to look not just 10 or 20 years ahead, but instead to plan for well into the latter half of this century. He wants to beef up public transport, with underground rail to serve one big super-city that would combine Waitakere, Auckland, Manukau and Papakura, possibly even North Shore, but maybe not Waiheke or Great Barrier. He wants to emphasise Culture, Art and Diversity so that the region's lifestyle stimulates and motivates workers in what would become an increasingly vibrant business sector. Would you see him at a Hero Parade? Absolutely - so long as there was no blatant or casual sex on show. GABA - Joe Gilfillan - 12th September 2004    
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