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Candidates’ best pitches

The panel of candidates for the Wairarapa electorate. PHOTOS/ELI HILL

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At the Times-Age Candidates’ Debate on Tuesday night, six Wairarapa candidates delivered their biggest pitch for votes on the 2020 campaign trail so far.

A highly-engaged audience of about 320 people filled the Carterton Events Centre auditorium, with more spilling into the foyer.

Debate emcee Sam Rossiter-Stead set the scene with a few jokes. Each candidate launched their pitch with a three-minute address.

After this, name recognition of Labour’s Kieran McAnulty and NZ First’s Ron Mark, drew applause but newcomer to standing for the Wairarapa seat, National’s Mike Butterick had to work harder to gain the confidence of the room. He succeeded in this, showing knowledge of his party’s policy at a level to match Mark’s and McAnulty’s.

A packed audience at the Carterton Events Centre.

Questions from the audience tested whether the candidates had ideas or policy that would directly assist the Wairarapa electorate.

The three big questions were themed around care for the environment, jobs and taxation.

Audience member Tim Hewitt asked a question about why the commercial fishing quotas were so large and what damage was being done by this and what the candidates would do to make the recreational fishing quota fairer.

Mark, McAnulty, and Butterick said a review of the commercial fishing quota rules was needed.

Mark pointed out that as the prime minister’s fiancé was a recreational fisher, she had an interest in protecting it and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash had already instigated a review. Butterick said it was important that a person who fished for food for their family could get enough.

New Conservative candidate Warren Butterworth admitted he was unlikely to win the seat, but he urged people to think about how much land Chinese investors were buying and what for.

Arriving just as the debate started, Advance NZ candidate Nigel Gray took an alternate point of view to other candidates on the panel and answered questions using his party’s policies as a base.

Green candidate Celia Wade-Brown responded to audience questions with classic ‘green’ policy around the need to reduce carbon emissions, polluting less, and using renewable energy.

Ron Mark pointed out to voters that McAnulty was likely to get into Parliament on the list, so if they voted for Mark then they would get two MPs.

But McAnulty was very clear that he could get more done and have far greater influence as Wairarapa’s electorate MP rather than as a list MP.

Having three years of being an MP under his belt for the Labour-led government, he was confident in backing his party’s policies. When quizzed by an audience member McAnulty also said he was “totally opposed” to the 90-day trial for workers.

“Any legislative structure that allows someone to be fired for no reason whatsoever after 89 days is fundamentally flawed and I will oppose this as a member of Parliament.”

Mark, Butterick, Butterworth, and Gray all voted no to the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, and the End of Life Choice Act.

McAnulty and Wade-Brown both voted a double yes.

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