When political debates go crazy

A raging verbal fight broke out at an mayoral candidate meeting, promoted as The Anti-Debate, at the University of Auckland on Monday night.

AUSA and the Daily Blog present The Anti-Debate

Tonight we’re proud to put on the debate that no one else will – the Anti-Debate. Come to Shadows at 7 to watch some of the 14 OTHER mayoral candidates give you their vision for Auckland.

CAN’T MAKE THE DEBATE? No problem! We will be LIVE STREAMING the event from the Daily Blog – also at 7! A copy will be available afterwards too, but if you’re stuck at home tonight make sure you go to thedailyblog.co.nz so you don’t miss out!

It lived up to it’s ‘anti-debate’ billing in an unexpected way.

Stuff: Auckland mayoral debate turns into shoving match between screaming candidates

Auckland mayoral candidates came close to “a brawl” at a debate on Tuesday night, after a screaming war of words descended into a shoving match.

David Hay was abused by rival Alezix Heneti as he tried to make a speech at the debate, which was hosted by Auckland University Students’ Association at university bar, Shadows.

Hay arrived late from another meeting, but was given permission by a students’ association representative to make a 30-second statement.

However, Heneti took umbrage, and a fracas ensued.

The debate was MC’d by Martyn Bradbury and all he seemed concerned about was that it was being live streamed.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Adam Holland – dressed in a kaftan – then commandeered the mic to yell “vote for me! Vote for me!”.

Not good for the ALCP credibility nor good for the pro-cannabis lobby.

As 22-year-old mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick stepped in between Hay and Heneti, Holland continued his commentary: “There’s going to be brawl! Ooh, I can feel a brawl!”

Swarbrick tried to placate the mayhem and was the only one to come out of this with any credit.

The AUSA president was understandably disappointed.

AUSA regrets the incident that occurred at the end of the Anti-Debate. This unnecessary conflict between two candidates marred an otherwise enjoyable and informative debate in which a wide range of mayoral contenders were given a platform to have their views heard. AUSA encourages peaceful and democratic resolution of all issues, and appeals to mayoral candidates to maintain a standard of behaviour expected of the Mayoralty.

Unfortunately, one of the candidates present chose to waste the opportunity given to him and attend the debate in a highly offensive costume. AUSA is fundamentally opposed to racism and bigotry in all its forms. We are sure that Aucklanders will see this and be able to exercise their best judgement in choosing which mayoral candidate will earn their votes.

The day before Hay had conceded his campaign and said he supported Phil Goff for mayor:

MEDIA RELEASE 25 September 2016

Speaking at a mayoral panel debate for the African Community, in Mount Roskill on Saturday afternoon, mayoral candidate David Hay threw his support behind Phil Goff to be the Mayor of Auckland.

Another view:

I’m reluctant to suggest that non-serious candidates be excluded from standing for elections, but this makes a mockery of the democratic process. Electing the mayor of a major city is a big deal.

Hay  said the debate turned out to be the most exciting one so far on the campaign.

“Great political theatre!” he said.

No, it trashes what should be a serious process. Democracy is turning off too many voters as it is.

Managing the number of candidates – there are 18 standing for mayor in Auckland – is a problem. The AUSA tried to give the ‘lesser’ candidates a forum and some of them blew it.

I wonder if some sort of democratic pre-selection process would help.