Incumbent MP Alastair Scott, far right, addressing the large crowd who turned up at carterton Events Centre for last night’s Wairarapa Candidates Debate at Carterton Events Centre. The other canddiates were John Hart [Green Party], left, Kieran McAnulty [Labour] and Ron Mark [New Zealand First]. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
A large, vocal audience turned up to see four candidates for the Wairarapa electorate seat square off last night at the Wairarapa Times-Age election debate held at Carterton Events Centre.
Labour Party’s Kieran McAnulty, the National Party’s Alastair Scott, New Zealand First’s Ron Mark, and the Green Party’s John Hart tackled two of the biggest pressure points of the election – the housing crisis and how we should regulate water.
Mr Scott, the incumbent MP, said everybody should have a roof over their head, and that was happening under the National Party.
The demand for construction now would bring more jobs to the region, he said.
“That is what demand brings and I welcome demand.”
Mr Hart said that “urgent action” was needed because people had been reduced to sleeping in caravans and sheds where they could.
“Only the National Government would see the housing crisis as a business opportunity,” he said.
Mr McAnulty said it was nonsense to dismiss the housing crisis and said Mr Scott’s response showed how “disconnected” he was from the region.
Mr Mark said the government had “divested” itself from the responsibility of social housing.
Under its watch, elderly people were being turned out of houses they had called homes for decades.
Rentals were decreasing as landlords were being encouraged out of the business, he said.
Labour’s proposed royalty on the commercial consumption of water also divided opinion.
Mr McAnulty said each litre taken from the resource should be paid for.
It was about promoting the sustainability of primary industry, he said.
Mr Scott said it was just the Labour Party adding more tax to its proposals.
Mr Hart said there should be a levy on bottled water leaving New Zealand.
Under the Green Party they would workshop how water should be resourced with all parties around the table.
The conversation needed to be had “without the scaremongering”, he said.
Prices in the supermarket would not go up.
Mr Hart said he would be voting for Mr McAnulty, but that people should give their electorate vote to “the person who best represents you”.
They also fielded questions that landed much closer to home such as how they would improve the region’s roads considering the closure of the Manawatu Gorge and where they stood on the proposed Wairarapa-wide district council amalgamation.
Mr Scott and Mr McAnulty were in favour of amalgamation while Mr Mark and Mr Hart were against.
The four are no strangers to going head to head for the Wairarapa seat.
They are the same people who took out the top four places in the 2014 election.
Mr Scott won the seat with 16,223 votes in the last election.
Trailing him was Mr McAnulty on 9452, Mr Mark on 8630, and Mr Hart on 1566.
Since the 1946 election, only three Labour MPs have won the Wairarapa seat.
The last was Labour winner was Georgina Beyer, who won in 1999 and 2002.