The 2020 General Election is about to begin with the voting period starting on October 3. Voting will remain open until election day — October 17 — and will include the End of Life Choice and cannabis referendums. Southland Express reporter Laura Smith asked all candidates in the Invercargill and Southland electorates what they would do if elected. They were given 50 words per answer to be given by a deadline.
Questions to candidates:
1. What is your ideal solution for the region with the Tiwai smelter closure?
2. What is your personal view on each of the referendums?
3. While we’re not out of the woods yet, what issues does the Southland community face after the pandemic and how will you resolve these?
Winsome Aroha — Social Credit
1. Government should purchase Tiwai — invest in dealing with the environmental issues and run it as a State-owned enterprise. Keeping the jobs in Southland.
2. End of Life Choice: No. Unfortunately as a GP I’ve been exposed to plenty of situations
where so-called loved ones put their own interests ahead of the vulnerable. There are too many opportunities for patients to be coerced.
Cannabis: Yes. Decriminalisation is common sense. At a Dunedin election meeting most
candidates admitted to having used it. Portugal and Holland decriminalised with no increase in use, when addiction is a medical problem, people more likely to seek help.
Marijuana has an important role to play in pain management and palliative care. Many of my patients have been unable to afford the expensive Pharmac-approved product.
3. The Reserve Bank needs to be used as it was after the depression in 1930s. Housing
programmes and rural investment could easily fund a comprehensive social, economic and
environmental rescue package.
Rochelle Monique Francis — Green Party
1. A just transition is needed to support affected workers while sustainable replacement
industries are established. Rio Tinto must fulfil its decommissioning obligations before leaving. Toxic dross must be removed from Southland, the smelter site remediated and the recovery of the Waiau River supported.
2. The Cannabis bill is an evidence-backed common sense approach to reducing cannabis-
related harm in our community. The End of Life Choice Bill enables people facing imminent death and suffering unbearable pain to make choices to ease their suffering. I support it if strong and appropriate boundaries ensure it is their choice only.
3. Housing is a pressing issue. The quality is poor, but due to shortages rents are high.
Heating during winter is very expensive. The vulnerable in our community suffer health and financial problems as a result. We need new state homes, improvement in rental housing standards and continued insulation and clean heating incentives.
Joshua Gunn — New Zealand First
1. New Zealand First considers saving the 2400 jobs associated with Tiwai as a bottom line in any coalition agreement. We view a 20-year agreement, with a 10-year review, to provide electricity based on the cost of supply and a respectable margin, as the fair go that the Tiwai Smelter and Southland needs.
2. I’m pleased to see issues of conscience being decided by referendums and not just MPs.
Sadly, prohibition of cannabis has failed to curb abuse and finances gangs, so harm
reduction is worth exploring. I also support the personal freedom for terminally ill to die on their own terms with dignity.
3. Unemployment and lingering housing shortages will persist. Supporting job creation in
Southland’s manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, and forestry industries through annual
Provincial Growth Fund investment will tackle unemployment. Better immigration policy supporting only the immigrants needed to cover skill shortages, while reducing the excessive nearly 60,000 annual immigration average, will relieve some housing pressure.
Liz Craig – Labour Party
1. Given Tiwai’s significant contribution to Southland’s economy, a longer transition would
allow time for our community to adapt and other industries emerge. We will negotiate with Rio Tinto a more managed exit, with a focus on establishing a fair electricity transmission price. We’ll also help our region explore other opportunities.
2. End of Life Choice: I will be voting yes as my own view, having looked after those with terminal conditions who are experiencing unbearable suffering, is that they should be able to make an informed choice.
Cannabis: I am yet to make a final decision, as while strictly regulating the sale of cannabis would be beneficial, I remain concerned about the provisions that will allow people to grow their own plants (to a maximum of two).
3. With tourism and international education being particularly hard hit, creating jobs and
diversifying Southland’s economy will be crucial. That’s why investing in shovel ready projects like the inner-city redevelopment and our flood stop-banks are important, as
are helping people re-train with free apprenticeships and support for businesses who take them on.
Zy Hayden — Independent
1. From the information I have examined I think we need at least a three-year extension to transition towards using the power from Manapouri in ventures like data centres, solar cell production or to help Fonterra transition towards green energy sources. We also need to ensure proper site clean-up afterwards.
2. Everyone should try to make the most informed choice they can on these issues. Strip the politics away and look at the actual evidence from independent sources who aren’t just
trying to make an appeal to your emotions. Personally, I’ll be double ticking despite my problems with the current legislation.
3. People were facing tough times before the pandemic, times are only going to get tougher; unless we can come together as a community to support each other through it. I want to give people a voice in the community, so we can move forward towards a brighter future together.
Basil Walker — Independent
1. Tiwai Smelter will not close. I have various Court solutions to ensure the diabolical Transpower issue is resolved where Tiwai have been overcharged for 45 years. Declaratory Judgement for clarity and certainty against the Crown. New Cartel Criminalisation ACT available 8th April 2021. Electricity Prudent discount agreement. Parochial determination.
2. Cannabis: Yes. I will vote for reform on the basis that I would not want my loved ones to visit or mingle with suppliers of drugs who live outside of the law.
End of Life Choice: I have seen family members suffer dreadfully, after they pass I always say: ‘‘you would never wake them to suffer again’’.
3. Protect and ensure farmers and business people’s mental wellbeing. Ensure that
Southland has the opportunity to move past the Labour and Green Government rejection of Tiwai Smelter. Encourage National to assist the Transpower problem they instigated 45 years ago. Ensure sport and tourism can methodically return with reasonable requirements.
Joshua Honiss — New Conservative
1. If all efforts to prevent closure fail, then explore options that could create jobs using the
facility that would allow a quick transformation using the port, power and local resources
without dismantling the structures for another company. Encourage New Zealand’s world-renowned entrepreneurial spirit and boost small businesses.
2. Protect Families, I will be voting no on both referendums because of the damage they will cause to our nation. EOLCA will devalue life and offer no hope to those struggling with
depression, suicide and disability.
Cannabis ruins our productivity and as a nation we need to be more productive.
3. Cut job killing regulations, protect the vulnerable and allow those who are able, to return to work and normality. Encourage the purchase of New Zealand products, introduce
higher tax brackets which would allow kiwis to spend more of their money how they see fit.
Stimulate jobs by cutting red tape.
Kurt Rohloff — Advance NZ
1. Tiwai has pros and cons for Southland. Great for the economy, but terrible for health
and the environment. The current Government controls the situation.Their response shows they don’t want Tiwai.Nor care about Southland. But Southlanders should have the chance to prepare over a five-year period.
2. Re: Euthanasia No Brainer. No to Euthanasia. Murder is Murder!
Re: Legalised Marijuana. There are too many variables to make an informed decision. Even if the no’s won. Referendums sadly are not binding and this Government want this Bill through for tax purposes. They have just given the illusion that you have a choice.
3. Although a virus exists, a pandemic doesn’t, and according to the two leading authorities in this field CDC and WHO. Covid-19 is no worse than the seasonal influenza that kills up to 500 people in NZ a year. Advance NZ will repel the Covid 19 Response Bill.
Joel Rowlands — The Opportunities Party (TOP)
1. TOP plans to put large-scale projects through proper business cases to ensure we are getting value for money. If elected I will ensure that a fair distribution across Southland is achieved. But the main issue around Tiwai for me is that dross needs to be sorted out ASAP.
2. People that use cannabis aren’t degenerates. They’re normal. Getting all bothered about whether somebody smokes cannabis in their own home responsibly seems a little bit trivial.
Euthanasia for me represents letting people go on their own terms with dignity and
without needless suffering. I’ll be voting yes to both.
3. So much of our income is seasonal and variable, not just for business owners, but cafe
workers, shearers, tourist operators, snow bunnies, and the like. UBI boosts the lowest earners above the living wage — more than minimum wage increases ever could, and every New Zealander is better off.
Fiona Meyer — New Conservative
1. Invercargill and greater Southland will benefit by Tiwai continuing as an industrial site,
whether it be aluminium or something new. Keep industry and our skilled workers in the
south and support the families. Accelerate the new transmission pricing. If needed discuss alternate options with Tiwai staff and other interested parties.
2. I am strongly opposed to each referendum. The EOLCA is too open for abuse and coercion of the vulnerable.
Cannabis is addictive and harmful (2016 WHO) direct links of high THC levels to mental health issues is not what NZ needs.
3. We should protect our elderly and medically at risk communities. Find ways for
international students and migrant workers to safely come to Southland. Create new jobs such as aquaculture, which involves cutting the red tape. Local communities to retain control over high school and SIT boards.
Penny Simmonds — National Party
1. The ideal solution would be for Tiwai Aluminium Smelter to not close but if it does close, to continue operating for a minimum of 5 – 10 years to get alternative industries such as a Hydrogen plant and Aquaculture operating and creating meaningful numbers of jobs.
2. I will vote against the assisted dying legislation and also against more liberal marijuana legislation.
3. The economy and our ability to pay back the huge debt from the undisciplined spending of this current Government. Agriculture and horticulture will be hard hit by Labour’s
unrealistic fresh water regulations at a time when they are expected to lead the economic
recovery. National would repeal nine of these regulations.
Jon Mitchell — Labour Party
1. Labour’s negotiations with Rio Tinto are for: Extended operation of the smelter for three to five years; All current smelter staff to remain employed as long as possible as they transition to new work or other opportunities; Making sure the site is environmentally remediated for future uses.
2. Cannabis law reform: Although I can see social benefits in decriminalising cannabis,
especially in separating cannabis users from harder drug dealers, I do have concerns about
young people having access to cannabis, so would like to see strong controls in place if the
community votes for reform.
End of Life Choice Bill: Both my parents died relatively young from cancer. One of them had a peaceful and relatively pain-free end to their life. The other had an experience that
no-one should have to go through. The very least that we should do in a modern society
is reduce suffering wherever when can.
3. Southland is having different Covid experiences. While the agricultural sector is doing well, the overly international tourism dependent areas are not. I will work tirelessly to ensure the agricultural sector is supported, while tourism is enabled to pivot to domestic visitor needs, as we diversify to a more resilient future.
Elisabeth Dacker — Social Credit
1. Southland needs lasting solutions not patchwork promises. Government borrowing costs $5 billion annually in interest which could be used for regional investment instead. The Reserve Bank could direct fund the government to purchase Tiwai and keep it running, invest in cleaning up the environment, and retain jobs in Southland while other long term options are developed.
2. ‘No’: End of life legislation needs clearer policies in regards to safeguarding. Sovereignty
over one’s body and life is central to this debate, however when someone feels they are a burden to their family and society they can be vulnerable to outsiders’ influence.
‘Yes’: Cannabis legislation will allow for regulation and education not criminalisation. With the impeding Covid-19 recession with the loss of the tourism industry, the revenue that NZ
could make from cannabis sales is noteworthy. This also defunds gangs and other criminals. Cannabis can be used for a myriad of medical conditions, with less negative side effects and as a substance is much less harmful than alcohol.
3. Southland, like the rest of NZ, faces its own unique challenges requiring high level investment from central government using no cost Reserve Bank credit as happened in the 1930s. Housing programmes and rural investment could easily fund a comprehensive social, economic and environmental rescue package. Practical Social Credit solutions in action.
These Southland and Invercargill candidates had not responded to the questions
by the given deadline.
Jackie West — ONE Party, Invercargill
David Kennedy — Green Party, Southland
Joseph Mooney — National Party, Southland
Judith Terrill — ONE Party, Southland
Robert Douglas Wilson — Advance NZ, Southland