Candidates representing some of the major political parties presented their ideas on social issues this week to an audience of about 50 people working in the social and charities sector.
The meeting was organised by SociaLink and Volunteering Services which supports the Western Bay of Plenty social and community sector.
Jan Logie represented the Green party, Bay of Plenty candidate Pare Taikato represented Labour, Bay of Plenty candidate Christine Young represented ACT, along with Independent candidate Larry Baldock. Both National and NZ First didn’t attend. The candidates were posed three questions.
Discussing underfunding of social agencies, Jan Logie said iwi and voluntary agencies were at the heart of the community. Christine Young said ACT would not be cutting any funding to frontline services, and was proposing a mental health and addiction service partnering with local charities.
Pere Taikato said her background was in the social sector and she had been a volunteer with the Acorn Foundation so was very aware of the lack of funding and reliance on private donors. Labour’s position was to make targeted investment into the workforce by providing pay parity.
Larry Baldock said the role of the social sector was not fully appreciated. He had spent half his life in voluntary roles, and the sector was not served well by the major parties. The city had been ignored for too long, he said.
On the growing divide between the haves and have-nots, Baldock said people were at the mercy of the inflation cycle, and he wanted to restore longer mortgages and home ownership.
Taikato said Labour would continue to invest in housing, and solar power. Young said the cost of living needed to be addressed, especially housing, along with education and the economy. Logie said poverty was a creation of government policies which had cut people out. The answer was to tax the wealthy, and Inland Revenue had found that the wealthy were paying half the tax of the average New Zealander.
On honouring the Treaty, Taikato said Labour valued its relationship with Māori, and what was good for Māori was good for all. Young said ACT didn’t discriminate on race and supported claims through the Tribunal, but worried about ideology being included in the school curriculum.
Logie said the Greens acknowledged the Treaty as the country’s founding document, and it gave Pākehā a place to stand. It was a model that worked for all. Baldock said two cultures had to understand each other, and he thought New Zealand was a lot further along than it believed in understanding.
The meeting was shown videos of candidates volunteering with local charities in Volunteering Services’ Dare to Volunteer event during August.