Snow as sparse as good mayoral candidates

Snow in Dunedin! Well, a very light smattering on some of the hills. There’s a few sparse patches here at home, at about 100 metres. There’s  very cold wind, and it’s 3.2 degrees outside at present (up a degree from an hour ago). But it isn’t unusual to get cold snaps here at this time year. The high for today is predicted to be 11, but up to 16 tomorrow and 19 on Saturday. Variety is normal.

The northern motorway has been affected with trucks stopped on the Leith Saddle at 300m.

(Update – traffic was moving by 7:15 am)

And where people live there’s barely a smattering.

The snow there is as sparse as good candidates in the local body elections.

There are 14 people standing for mayor with none standing out as a good prospect.

The two apparent front runners, multi-term councillors may or may not be the best of an uninspiring lot.

Aaron Hawkins seems to have been a hard working councillor and I think deserves getting back on council, but is fairly hard left and is standing officially as a Green party candidate. He’s been a strong promoter of the grossly underused cycle lanes tacked onto the side of the busiest streets in the city (the state highway), and on other cycle lanes it’s unusual to see cycles.

He was recently accused by first term councillors as treating them as juniors – Race heats up as mud flies online

Cr Hawkins triggered the exchange by publicly questioning Cr O’Malley’s decision to endorse Cr Lee Vandervis, during a candidates’ meeting in Opoho last week, as his second pick for the mayoralty.

Cr O’Malley hit back on Sunday, accusing Cr Hawkins of attempting “character assassination” during an election campaign.

He went further, claiming Cr Hawkins had “blocked or sabotaged” every one of Cr O’Malley’s attempts at progressive initiatives over three years.

“He is part of a bullying and controlling group which have frozen out all the new councillors that came on in the last election and even referred to us as junior councillors for the first two years.”

Cr Hawkins denied the claims and fired back, accusing his colleague of promoting “baseless suspicion”.

The exchange divided supporters, as Cr David Benson-Pope weighed in to accuse Cr O’Malley of being motivated by securing a committee chairman role if Cr Vandervis won the mayoralty.

Others – including Cr Andrew Whiley and candidates Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, Scout Barbour-Evans and Richard Seagar – all backed Cr O’Malley.

Scout Barbour-Evans went further, contacting the Otago Daily Times to say Cr Hawkins’ bullying behaviour was one of the reasons the candidate resigned from the Green Party in April.

“Hawkins being a bully goes much further than within council … His signature move is the cackle every time certain people speak. Within the party I was one of those people.”

Lee Vandervis was second in the last mayoral election so must rate a chance, but he is best known for opposing things and getting into trouble for allegedly abusive and bullying behaviour. I know from personal experience he gets agitated easily. Working together with a council would seem to be out of character for him. He’s just clocked up the 12th complaint against him this term.

ODT: Complaint made against Vandervis

Dunedin city councillor and mayoral candidate Lee Vandervis is the subject of a fresh complaint, after becoming embroiled in another verbal altercation with a Dunedin City Council staff member.

The councillor already has 11 complaints against him this term.

The Otago Daily Times has been told by several sources Cr Vandervis received a parking ticket last week, and went to the council’s customer services reception to complain it was unfair.

While he was there, an exchange with a female staff member descended into shouting by Cr Vandervis, the ODT was told.

Voting may be as sparse as the snow, with ‘who the hell do I vote for?’ probably being the most common question asked.

It seems to be a real problem with both local body and national politics these days. It’s something that seems to attract more and more career politicians, and less quality candidates.

 

How ‘intrinsically linked’ is the environment and social justice?

Greens have been re-expressing how they think that environmental issues can’t be separated from social justice.

Green list candidate from last election:

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick‏:

Hawkins is a Green Party Dunedin city counsellor.

Alternate views:

 

Obviously there is crossover between environmental and social issues, as there are with many other issues, but Greens seem somewhat obsessed with promoting an unarguable and inextricable connection between the environment and social issues.

They can, to an extent at least, easily be dealt with separately. Better farming practices and cleaning up waterways can be addressed, as they should, without having to give benefits to anyone who wants them without question.

What the Greens seem to be angling at is if the State gives everyone nice warm dry houses for life, and bicycle lanes and electric trains, and health food, and all the health care they need, then the environment will work itself out.

But I have never seen them explain how this transition will actually work, and how it can be paid for without the country going broke (in which case both the environment and society will suffer).

They are really just trying to justify their choice, a party with a dual purpose, saving the environment and instituting socialism. They have chosen to intrinsically link them in their policies, but are a bit shaky on another essential – economic sustainability.

Is there any example of a sustainable socialist country without social or environmental problems? Or is it a grand idealistic state that can never be reached?

It appears to me that Green Party members may be brainwashed into believing that they can’t champion environmental issues without also buying fully into a socialist system of government.

Mayoral candidate ‘rumoured’

Otago Daily Times reports on a ‘rumour’ of a new entrant to the Dunedin mayoral race that could liven up the contest somewhat.

If this proves top be true it would pit a fresh face with strong business interests against the incumbent Dave Cull who has had strong Green leanings, Aaron Hawkins who is the official Green Party candidate, and long time Cull combatant Lee Vandervis.

Bid for mayoralty rumoured

The Dunedin mayoral race could be about to heat up as  lawyer Susie Staley, of iD Dunedin Fashion Week fame, is believed to be considering a bid for the city’s top job.

Councillor Andrew Whiley said yesterday he would pull out of the race if another candidate, who he declined to name, entered the race.

The Otago Daily Times understands Cr Whiley was referring to Ms Staley, but she declined to confirm or deny she was standing when contacted yesterday.

“The rumours can keep going,” she said.

Apart from being a lawyer, Ms Staley has served on a variety of boards including those of Tower, Maritime New Zealand and PGG Wrightson, and was a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards in 2013.

She stood down as iD Dunedin Fashion Week chairwoman last year after more than 15 years of service to the event.

If Whiley doesn’t stand for mayor (he would presumably stand for re-election to council) Staley (if she stands and gets significant backing) could threaten Cull’s hold on the mayoral chains, especially if Hawkins splits Culls vote.

Hillary Calvert has announced she won’t stand this year,.

Cr Whiley said it would be in the “best interests” of Dunedin for him to stand aside should the other candidate stand.

“I think there is a very good candidate who could do a lot for Dunedin.”

If elected, they would give Dunedin a more “pro-business” focus and tap into a widespread sentiment that council had not achieved much in recent times and fresh leadership was needed.

This could make the Dunedin contest a clear clash of business versus green interests.

Plus Vandervis, who may continue to pick up protest and maverick votes but has proven to not have the temperament for leading the council after ongoing ugly clashes with Mayor Cull (he recently served defamation papers on Cull).

I don’t know if Staley has any political affiliations. If not she will be up against the Green Party, plus Cull, who I presume will be standing as an independent now that the fairly (some say very)  left leaning Greater Dunedin group has been officially disbanded this year.

 

Green candidate proposes local currency

Stuff reported on Saturday that Dunedin was on the comeback trail.

Dunedin: The return of New Zealand’s first city

Dunedin was New Zealand’s first city, but has since been overtaken in size by six other cities. But something is stirring in the Edinburgh of the South, and Dunedin is on the comeback trail.

This morning the ODT reports on the major planks of  Green candidate’s mayoral campaign – a ‘living wage’ city and a Dunedin currency. This is supported by Green co-leader Metiria Turei.

Living wage, Dunedin dollar his platform

Dunedin mayoral candidate Aaron Hawkins has announced his intentions to transform Dunedin into New Zealand’s first living wage city and establish a local currency if elected mayor.

Speaking at the Green Party’s Dunedin local body elections launch, the first-term councillor said he wanted to push for every resident to earn a living wage and to establish a local currency, the Dunedin dollar, modelled on the Bristol Pound.

My dream for Dunedin is to become New Zealand’s first living wage city. That is a city where every worker, regardless of where they work, makes a living wage.”

Dreams are free, but forcing up wages could be expensive for businesses, and could well cost jobs.

The creation of the Dunedin dollar would complement the city’s push for wider economic equity, he said.

“The Dunedin dollar sits alongside our existing currency, rather than trying to replace it,” he said.

“A living wage and a Dunedin dollar are both commitments to doing economics differently.

Commitments to setting up a Green experiment in Dunedin.

Some of the Green promoted cycleway experiment was botched and had to be redesigned, and some had to be scrapped because costs were going to be double what was estimated.

“They both work from the bottom up rather than waiting for the trickle down.”

The objective was to encourage people to spend their money with local, independent businesses in the city.

Based on the local multiplier effect, the currency was aimed at keeping more money within the local economy.

“If I were elected mayor, I would happily take 25% of my income for that elected position in the Dunedin dollar,” Mr Hawkins said.

Would wages be topped up to ‘living wage’ level with the Dunedin dollar?

The council would spend the next term designing “something that fits our local situation” to be launched by 2019, he said.

Only if the council – not just the mayor – supported the Green dream.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei described the proposals as “fantastic concepts for the city”.

“We need to be supporting the living wage and challenging council and challenging our business community leaders to step up,” she said.

“And the Dunedin dollar is all about supporting each other.”

So it sounds like Hawkins’ dream is a part of the Green local body strategy.

Hawkins is very much a Green formula campaigner, sticking to strategy and script.

A current contentious issue in Dunedin is the redesign of the main one way streets to include cycle lanes and remove hundreds of car parks.

This was already controversial in the last mayoral campaign, but is now closer to reality – and the opposition to it is also stronger, there’s a lot of people getting very annoyed at streets that are dominated by underutilised cycleways.

So Hawkins and the Greens will have a challenge selling their ‘living wage city’ and Dunedin dollar on top of this.

But there is quite a large Green vote in Dunedin. The city could become a green nirvana.

However current mayor Dave Cull is fairly Green leaning so Hawkins and Cull will compete and may split the Green vote.

However there is also likely to be a strategy to stack the council with Green votes even more.

Police v activists, chilling versus no problem

Two Dunedin anti-TPPA activists have responded differently to police discussing with them their plans for campaigning against the TPPA.

This follows news that police have had additional anti-riot training and growing talk online about riots and violent protest.

Police are in a common position for them of damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Some have claimed their approach of activists amounts to anti-free speech intimidation, but it isn’t uncommon for the police to try to pre-empt possible trouble by talking to people.

Nationally most attention was given to Dunedin activist Scout Barbour-Evans. NZ Herald reports:

Visits to activists ‘worrying’ trend

A national police campaign to door-knock TPP activists is part of a larger trend of “chilling” opposition to the Government and the right to protest, a civil liberties lawyer says.

Police have been visiting “known activists” opposed to New Zealand’s involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement ahead of protests planned in several cities tomorrow.

Lawyer Michael Bott said the tactic appeared to be part of “an increasing trend on the part of the police”.

“They seem to be doing it proactively on behalf of the Government and its projects.

Or proactively in reaction to threats. of targeting political events.

“It’s worrying that New Zealand citizens who are concerned about the agreement suddenly find themselves the target of police.

“It has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to protest.”

Not necessarily. There has been no claim they are trying to stop expression of protest. It depends on how it’s done by the police. And how it’s played by activists.

Scout Barbour-Evans, a Dunedin activist who goes by the gender-neutral pronoun “they”, said an officer knocked on their door about 10am yesterday.

The officer wanted to know what the plans were for the anti-TPP protest in Dunedin, Scout said.

Scout compared the situation to the Springbok tour, saying the increased surveillance felt akin to 1981, particularly following the presence of armed police at Prime Minister John Key’s State of the Nation speech on Wednesday.

By the look of Barbour-Evans they won’t have been born in 1981 so she can’t have felt what that was like. A number of people (it seems like it could be a planned strategy) have been trying to liken TPPA protests with the Springbok tour.

The ODT headlined Police visiting activists labelled ‘a disgrace’.

Police calling and doorknocking activists about their plans to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is “an absolute disgrace”, Dunedin city councillor Aaron Hawkins says.

“If the police are going door to door intimidating known TPP opponents, in case they might be thinking of expressing their disagreement publicly, then that’s an absolute disgrace,” Cr Hawkins said.

“The TPP has never been primarily about trade, it’s about protecting the interests of big business from the meddlesome interference of democracy.”

Hawkins is closely associated with the Green party. Green leader Metiria Turei calls it Implicit police threat appalling:

“It carries with it an implicit threat and New Zealanders have the right to speak out and have their voices heard. Being an activist isn’t a crime, being an activist is being passionate about something and last time I checked that wasn’t illegal.”

So no actual threat, just one that the Greens view as ‘implicit’.

But less prominently the ODT also reports:

TPP Action Dunedin organiser Jen Olsen said she had spoken to police this week about what was planned for this weekend.

“We’ve got not problem about the police and are happy to tell them what we’re doing, because we have no plans to do anything illegal.”

So no claim there that the police intimidated or tried to stop expression or protest.

If there are violent protests or riots as some activists have promoted over the next week the police are likely to be condemned for doing too much, and condemned for not doing enough.

DCC votes to be Green climate lobbyists

The infiltration of Green national politics into local body government took a worrying turn yesterday. Dunedin City Council has voted in four climate change resolutions:

• Urge the Government to adopt a tougher carbon emissions target.

• Support the Government in that goal by reducing Dunedin’s carbon emissions.

• Join the international ”Compact of Mayors” agreement to measure and reduce emissions across Dunedin.

• Ask the Government to place a moratorium on deep sea oil and gas exploration.

It looks like there is a big dollop of Green Party national politics in those resolutions, with the Dunedin City Council voting to allow themselves to be Government lobbiests on issues of national and international interest.

The resolutions were brought before the council by Crs Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins.

I don’t think McTavish is officially in the Green Party but is closely aligned with more extreme Green policies, and has been influential in promoting Green policies and practices at a local body level.

Hawkins stood as a Green Party candidate in 2013 local body elections when he became a councillor.

The ODT reports in Council says yes to climate change resolutions that there was some opposition:

Cr Andrew Noone said Dunedin would be better off ”walking the talk” than telling the Government what to do.

Cr John Bezett said the issue was one for central Government, and Dunedin was ”wasting our time” giving its opinion.

Cr Andrew Whiley said climate change was a problem needing to be addressed first and foremost by the world’s biggest polluters, including China and India.

Both there was more support in a fairly left leaning council:

But that view was rejected by Cr Richard Thomson, who said grass-roots pressure was what drove governments to make big decisions.

Cr David Benson-Pope brought cheers from the gallery for his speech on why Dunedin had to take a stand.

”Like it or not, colleagues, we are part of our community. In fact, we are supposed to be some of the carriers of the moral leadership.”

”There was no question what thousands of New Zealanders thought about the issue during the weekend’s climate change marches,” he said.

”They think this community needs to move.

”I agree with them, and I’m not reluctant to … tell the Government it’s time that they got real and re-established a degree of political integrity and moral fibre on this issue.”

Benson-Pope has a Labour rather than a Green background. He was an MP from 1999-2008.From 2005-2007 he was Minister for the Environment in the Clark Government.

Unusually for a setting MP he was not selected by his party to stand again for Dunedin South in 2008. It seems like he still has a hankering for being involved in national politics.

I’m not surprised with this Green politicking in Dunedin, the Greening and Lefting of the council was an issue of concern raised in the 2013 election.

I would rather the Dunedin council put more effort into administering and improving Dunedin for their rate payers rather than delving into Green national politics.

UPDATE: In other news in the ODT today things that don’t seem to matter so much to DCC councillors:

Queenstown-Lakes also fared well in the number of dwelling consents issued in October with 96, up from 65 in September and by far the highest for the past 12 months.

Central Otago had 19 dwellings consented, up from 16 and again the highest total for the past 12 months.

Dunedin slumped to 19 dwelling consents in October from 25 in September.

That’s depressing enough, but more so given the headline: New year looks good for Otago builders.  Not so much for Dunedin builders.

 

Why did Tolley talk about contraception?

The Q & A interview with Anne Tolley yesterday set off a lot of discussion about contraception and sterilisation in relation to at risk children.

Tolley and National have been accused of many things including deliberate diversion (from the TPPA or whatever) and promoting ‘eugenics, again.

Anthony Robins at The Standard:

Are we still “not quite” at the stage of compulsion, or are the Nats going to cross that line? It’s obvious from their record that they have a thoroughly unhealthy obsession with the idea. John Key “thinks” (despite all the evidence to the contrary) that parents on the DPB are “breeding for a business”. That kind of sick and stupid attitude can never be allowed to control reproductive rights.

Paul at The Standard:

The National Party have set up a predictable diversion to knock the TPP off the headlines just as Groser is being taken to court to release the text.

Danyl McLauchlan at Dim-Post:

Clickbait government

This government would never actually carry out the daunting legal and policy work required to implement mandatory contraception for beneficiaries, but they sure do like floating the idea whenever there’s a dip in the polls, to outraged cries from liberal pundits and roars of approval from the talkback radio moronocracy. This is the third or fourth time the Nats have said we ‘have to have this conversation’ about beneficiaries and eugenics.

Threatening to force women to be sterilised is far better for the Minister’s media monitoring statistics than the actual pedestrian work of delivering the option of contraception to women who might desperately need it. As always with these buffoons, generating headlines is the core role of government.

So why did Tolley “float the idea”? Actually she didn’t. She was asked about it seven minutes forty seconds into a ten minute interview. She responded to it, she didn’t float it.

Michael Parkins at 7:40 : You talk about early intervention a lot here, isn’t obviously the most early form of intervention stopping some people from having children, or having more children?

Anne Tolley: Well that’s very difficult for the State to do. I  certainly think we should be providing more family planning, more contraceptive advice to some of the families that we know are, I mean I know of cases that CYF have taken a sixth and seventh baby from.

The question I’ve asked is so what advice is now going in to that parent?

Parkins: So how could you stop them from baby three and four, because you know they’re going to fail at it?

Tolley: Yes, yes that’s exactly right.

Parkins: If you were really tough about these things that’s what you’d do though isn’t it?

Tolley: Well we’ll wait and see what the recommendations are. That’s a conversation that New Zealanders perhaps need to have.

Parkin: Could that be the result of this?

Tolley: Well that’s a big step when the State starts telling people, you know, deciding if you can have another child and you can’t. I mean that’s a huge step for the State to take.

Parkin: But you’re not ruling that out being part of this next report that comes.

Tolley: Well I’ll wait and see what the panel report. I expect that they will be saying that we should get much faster contraceptive advice in, we should be offering you know tubal ligations, all sorts of things. Um and counselling those families.

Full interview: Overhauling our child care services (10:03)

That was brought up and pushed by Parking with I think very moderate responses from Tolley.

A Green Dunedin City councillor tweeted:

Hey , I thought over the weekend we went forward an hour, not back in time?

That was favourited by Green co-leader Metiria Turei. She’s over in the US at the moment so can be partly excused for perhaps not knowing the full context, but Hawkins doesn’t have that excuse.

This is either ignorance of how the topic came up and how it ran through the interview, a cheap shot, or deliberate dirty politics.

Green Dunedin candidate lies

Rival mayoral and council candidate Aaron Hawkins (standing for Green Dunedin) has posted at The Daily Blog in Dunedin Mayoral Hopefuls Do The (Climate) Denial Twist

Pete George has consistently refused to answer my question “Do you believe man made climate change is real and we need to take urgent action to address it”

I am not aware of Hawkins ever asking me any question like that. I have certainly not refused to answer.

Therefore this appears to be a blatant lie from Hawkins.

For the record:

I believe climate change is real, and we should be taking action. There is legitimate debate about what sort of action should be taken.

Green candidate to contest Dunedin mayoralty?

I’ve heard from a number of sources that the Green Party is going to stand (or endorse) a candidate for the Dunedin mayoralty in this year’s local body elections. The 25th of May has been mentioned.

And at a public event this week a name was openly mentioned – Aaron Hawkins. This isn’t a big surprise, Hawkins stood for mayor and council in 2010 – see Mayoral Profile: Aaron Hawkins.

On Tuesday Hawkins posted an openly political attack on current mayor Dave Cull at The Daily Blog – Dunedin’s Mayor Our Very Own Karma Chameleon.

It’s interesting that Greens are becoming more openly active in local body politics. In the past political parties have not been a popular feature in local body elections so this is a risk for Greens.

In Dunedin financial management, council debt and escalating rates are are big issues. Greens are making a major play on financial policies in national politics, and are struggling to be seen as credible. Voters were happy to tolerate some controversial Green environmental policies, but there is more wariness about what has been seen as a fringe party suggesting extreme economic policies.

If Hawkins stands as a Green candidate that obviously positions him politically. Normanomics may be something any Green candidate may have trouble defending beyond the Green faithful.

His last election profile says:

How would you describe your politics?

Environmentally responsible and, if anything on a spectrum, probably centre-left.

Who have you voted for nationally?

I voted for [Dunedin North MP] Pete Hodgson, I think, in the last three elections and for the Green Party.

Probably not centre-left. Maybe he has become more Green in the last two and a half years.

Hawkins doesn’t seem to be very active on Facebook.

He is more active on Twitter, where he has obvious Green connections and is noticeably anti National. His twitter profile:

@MrAaronHawkins

Music & Opinions for @RadioOne91FM, Words for @RipItUpNZ,@TheDailyBlogNZ@InsidersDunedin, D Scene, [Your Publication Here]

If he does stand for mayor as a Green candidate we’ll hear a lot more about him and from him. It will certainly guarantee a hard fought and interesting mayoral campaign. It’s good for democracy to have a range of candidates.

Hawkins will have to improve substantially on his 2010 result (he’s likely to do that).

Candidate Affiliation First Preference
Votes  %
Dave Cull Greater Dunedin 21,757 48.60
Peter Chin Independent 14,084 31.46
Lee Vandervis 5,917 13.22
Aaron Hawkins Independent 1,527 3.41
Olivier Lequeux 1,164 2.60
Kevin Dwyer 197 0.44
Jimmy Knowles 124 0.28
Informal votes 57
Turnout 45,218 52.34

He was closer in the councillor vote – see Dunedin local elections, 2010

Greens are well supported in Dunedin in National elections, and there is a significant Green activist base in the city. If co-leader Metiria Turei helps in the campaign that will ensure more attention.

It’s risky for Greens to delve into political territory that other parties have kept a distance from.

But it will certainly add interest to the local body elections in Dunedin.

(As posted on Your Dunedin)