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Crowd kicks off at debate

A crowd of around 250 gathered for an at times raucous and contentious ‘Meet the Candidates’ evening at Lakeview School on Sunday.

At various points of the event audience members heckled and shouted at the five candidates for Wairarapa’s electorate seat who attended the event – although nothing sufficiently untoward occurred to prompt the two police officers in attendance to get up from their possies in the foyer.

Act’s Simon Casey, the Green’s Celia Wade-Brown, Labour’s Kieran McAnulty, National’s Mike Butterick, and NZ Loyal’s Pete Arnott had each received five questions before the event organised by the Lansdowne Residents Association and had three minutes to give their prepared responses to each.

The various answers to those questions – which included what their first six months in office would look like, housing in the region, early childhood education, and speed limits – received a varied response from the restive crowd, but it was during the section of the evening when the candidates outlined their parties’ climate change policies that things really kicked off.

Even the question itself elicited a chorus of boos and jeers from a section of the audience before Greens candidate Celia Wade-Brown was invited to answer first.

“It is good that the main parties agree that climate change is real,” she managed to say before the catcalls from the crowd resumed.

In response, Wade-Brown snapped back, “I said the main parties – not the people that don’t seem to have read any science in the past 10 years, let alone opened their eyes!”, which received a deafening round of applause and cheers.

“The Greens party is really clear, we want to reduce emissions in a way that can also address the cost of living,” she said.

Sitting Labour MP McAnulty agreed with Wade-Brown’s general sentiment.

“We could pretend that we haven’t just had our largest-ever weather event, which affected regions from the top of the North right down to the southern coast of Wairarapa,” he said.

“But it is the rural and provincial areas that are hit hardest by extreme weather, and it will be our economies that are hit the hardest if we don’t do something practical with it.”

Both National and ACT candidates agreed that climate change is something that severely affects Wairarapa, while also acknowledging different parties favour different approaches for dealing with it – echoing Butterick’s earlier observation that the electorate seat contenders are “all trying to achieve the same things for our communities. We just have different ideas of going about it.”

NZL’s candidate differentiated himself from the others by arguing that the “mainstream climate change narrative is being used to impose control over people”.

“We believe in looking after the earth in common sense ways and in ways that aren’t designed just to line the pockets of hypocrites who fly around in corporate jets,” he said, to cheers from his vocal supporters in the crowd.

After the prepared answer section, the candidates were asked to respond with a “yes” or “no” to questions submitted by the audience in a ballot at the beginning of the night.

The questions covered such topics as support for mental health and disability, energy support payments, and the possibility of an independent review of state housing access – before the topic of the state of mental health resources in Wairarapa was returned to.

In the ensuing discussion, a clearly distressed audience member lambasted McAnulty for what she regarded as failures in the region’s mental health support, with the incumbent agreeing “there is more to do”.

1 COMMENT

  1. As always climate change 🙄 is to blame for everything. Go back in history and you will see these events do happen. We need to learn from them not politicize them as climate change because of how we live. Rivers flood and dry up and soil turns to mud and dries up. How can we change the world 🌎 ? Earthquakes , volcanoes , storms, hurricanes, the list goes on. A thought live with it stop thinking 🤔 we can change it. Build correctly stop wasting money on dreams, pet projects with rate payers and taxpayers money 💰.

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