We had our second-to-last ‘meet the candidates’ community meeting tonight in Paremata. We got three to five minutes to talk at each one. If you weren’t able to get along to any of them, here’s my campaign stump speech.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Iain MacLean ahau.
What sort of community do you want to live in?
Infrastructure and how much it costs is critically important. But that’s only part of what council does. It also helps build communities.
I’m focused on three, closely related areas. The first is sustainable development.
I want all our communities — new and existing — to work well for everyone. Porirua’s population is expected to grow by about 50 per cent over the next 30 years. And many of these people will be living in the northern growth area, between Pukerua Bay and Plimmerton/Camborne, as well as in Porirua east.
This growth is going to affect all of us and have huge impacts on our environment, the surrounding communities and infrastructure, and ratepayers — that’s most of us — will pay many of the bills. Growth can create opportunities, but it needs to be affordable.
And it needs to be sustainable — socially and economically — and environmentally, so we can protect precious places like Taupō Swamp and the inlet, and not contribute to climate change.
We need to reduce the impacts on local traffic, and ensure we all have good access to high quality public transport, and services such as new schools.
My second focus area is strong communities.
Our Village Planning Programme has seen an explosion in community democracy, and we’ve gone from four residents associations to 14. We can expand on that incredible growth.
Council should empower all our communities so they can build on their strengths, based on principles of social equity and equal opportunities for everybody. And we need to give all our young people more say about the future of their communities, and get them involved in creating the communities they want.
My third focus area is a healthy environment.
It’s under stress — and growth and climate change will make it worse.
Council has the power to do a lot of good here. It can choose sustainable and low carbon options in its work, and take strong action to protect our environment. This includes working with rural landowners and developers to support them to reduce the environmental impacts of farming and forestry, and residential developments. Householders need to play their part in this, too.
I’m encouraged by the proposed district plan, which seems to be on the right track with this.
The erosion we’ve already seen around our coast recently is only going to get worse with sea level rise, and we need to prepare for the impacts of climate change. That’s going to be one of the most important functions of future councils.
We all know how high our rates are. Prudent management of the council’s finances is essential, and you will hear many suggestions for that tonight. But tweaking our current budget won’t tackle the big issue of how we pay for growth.
Our current system of funding local government, with its heavy reliance on a property tax, won’t cope with the high growth we are experiencing in Porirua, and it needs to change.
The government is looking at this now — in a small way through the Productivity Commission — and we have to strongly support any opportunity for real reform, and work with others in the sector to make it happen.
I’ve been involved in our Pukerua Bay community for many years, and I’ve been the chair of the Residents Association for the past nine.
I’ve been a strong advocate for our community with the city and regional councils, and the likes of NZTA and KiwiRail. The people in these organisations generally like working with me — not because I’m a pushover, but because I have established good, productive, working relationships with them and focus on the solutions, rather than the problems.
I’ve seen council up close from working there, and I know being effective takes a team effort.
That’s how I have worked for Pukerua Bay for many years. And that’s how I would work on council, for the good of all our local communities.