THE first Invercargill “meet the candidates” meeting was held on Tuesday night, with Invercargill and Southland candidates invited to speak.
Hosted by the National Council of Women Southland, the public meeting was attended by about 150 people and topics included the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, abortion law reform, Covid-19 and the economic recovery, climate change and more.
National Party Invercargill candidate Penny Simmonds said the economy must be front of mind.
Both Green Party candidates, Dave Kennedy for Southland, and Rochelle Francis for Invercargill, said climate change would have a big impact – Kennedy said it would become a bigger threat than Covid-19.
The few times there was any sort of audience or candidate disorder was when there was debate about the Abortion Legislation Act, passed in March, on which candidates held mixed views.
Advance NZ Invercargill candidate Kurt Rohloff called it “draconian” and said if there was one law New Zealanders should vote against this election, that was it.
The impending closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter was also a hot topic.
New Zealand First Invercargill candidate Joshua Gunn reiterated that Winston Peters had promised last month to give Tiwai “a fair go”.
Basil Walker, standing as independent, said he would “enter the race to save Tiwai”.
“If Rio Tinto left and kept the smelter intact, legally gift it to Southland, they save the demolition and remediation costs of $600 million.”
Labour Invercargill candidate Liz Craig said with February’s flooding and Covid-19, the Government had been there every step of the way, and would be in the rebuild.
Candidates at the event standing for the Invercargill electorate were Penny Simmonds (National), Liz Craig (Labour), Winsome Aroha (Social Credit), Josh Honiss (New Conservative), Basil Walker (Independent), Jackie West (ONE Party), Kurt Rohloff (Advance NZ), Rochelle Francis (Green Party) and Joshua Gunn (NZ First).
Candidates from the Southland electorate were Judith Terrill (ONE Party), Jon Mitchell (Labour) and Dave Kennedy (Green Party). There were apologies from Joel Rowlands (The Opportunities Party, Southland), Takuta Ferris (Maori Party, Te Tai Tonga) and Joseph Mooney (National, Southland).