Last week’s candidates debate (live streamed on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, thanks to Forsyth Barr) for the Bay of Plenty and Tauranga electorates was a mix of fun and serious topics.
These are the personal observations of our CEO Matt Cowley and do not reflect the views of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.
There were a couple of issues that all the candidates agreed with.
There was universal agreement that the Hamilton to Tauranga transport corridor should be a top priority in any government infrastructure plan.
Transport and the need for after hours emergency healthcare in Papamoa were agreed by the main parties.
The indictment of rising levels of methamphetamine and organised crime saw the most serious discussion of the evening. Each party was unified in their crackdown in meth and need to rehabilitate addicts.
Mental health saw the most captivating response from many candidates as some shared personal stories and the need for better investment.
Similar to the Resource Management Act, most parties believe change is required to local councils, but each party has their own ideas. The general mood of the candidates who spoke about the issue agreed that Tauranga ratepayers deserve more from their elected members on Tauranga City Council.
It was disappointing that no local candidate has a strategy to reset international tourism after COVID-19, only speaking in broad terms about the industry’s importance to the local economy.
It is also sad that the discussions on housing supply and affordability have not advanced in the last few elections. Since the downfall of Kiwibuild in this term, the party’s policies appear to be back to where we were in the 2014 election.
As you would expect, both former leaders of the opposition (Simon Bridges and Todd Muller) were right across their party’s policies, each other’s portfolios, and had an excellent grasp of local issues. They set an incredibly high benchmark for any other candidate in either electorate.
Having said that, the rising quality of the local Labour party candidates – Jan Tinetti and Angie Warren-Clarke – over the past decade suggest the gap between Labour and National in Tauranga could be closing. The other candidates are mainly appealing for your party vote.
This could be a good thing for Western Bay of Plenty communities if the region becomes more contested and we receive more attention from Wellington.
Western Bay of Plenty communities are changing quickly and we need the Government’s attention to better manage our growth.