With the 2017 general election in just 16 days, The Courier reporter Greta Yeoman has been asking Rangitata electorate what issues they are hearing about from residents while on the campaign trail. The Waitaki candidates will be asked the same question in our September 14 edition.
Water taxes and inequality are the biggest two issues in the Rangitata electorate, according to the candidates standing for the electorate seat.
With encumbent MP Jo Goodhew standing down after holding the Rangitata seat since the 2008 election, having been first elected to Parliament as the MP for Aoraki in 2005, the five candidates in the running have been out campaigning and finding out the issues on the mind of Rangitata voters.
Act Party Rangitata candidate Tom Corbett said the most “hotly raised” issue was the Labour Party’s water tax proposal.
“It erodes our competitive advantage in selling to the world market because the tax is a cost on the input and not the output.
“People want to know what the farming community is doing to allay the possible pollution of the rivers by farming.”
National party candidate Andrew Falloon said most people he spoke to thought the party was heading in the right direction.
“We have one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Unemployment locally is at record lows.
“That success means we can invest more in the important services that Kiwis expect, like world-class schools and hospitals.”
He also said there was much concern about Labour’s water tax proposal, especially concerning the cost.
“People are alarmed at Labour’s inability to answer basic questions, such as how much the tax would be, and how much would go to iwi.”
“It’s important we have an MP who will back our region to succeed rather than putting more taxes and costs on local families.”
The Opportunities Party Rangitata candidate Olly Wilson said one of the two main issues the community was making loud and clear was concerns regarding poverty and inequality, particularly the flow-on effects such as mental illness, suicide, crime, poor health and education outcomes. The second and very emotive issue was our environment and our severely degraded rivers and water quality, he said.
“I have had one local nearly in tears telling me what our rivers use to be like.”
He said Top’s position was that the current generations must leave the environment in a better place for our next generation.
“We are finding our detailed polluter-pays and clear-water-action-plan policy is being well received with a groundswell of support locally.”
Green Party candidate Mojo Mathers said the two main issues she was hearing about were people’s concerns about declining water quality in the region and growing inequality.
“They want to see our drinking water kept safe and our rivers cleaned up. The recent extreme weather events around the world have made people realise that action on climate change is urgently needed.”
She said the party had also vowed to put a 10c per litre tax on water bottling and exports, as well as helping low-income families get into their own homes by making homes available on a progressive rent-to-buy basis.
Labour candidate Jo Luxton said her conversations with voters were quite varied and voters had come up with many different issues.
She said there was huge concern over pollution and the quality of waterways, while other residents were struggling with their financial situations.
“Even with two parents working [families] are finding it so hard to make ends meet.”
Others were finding it hard to find decent affordable rentals and employers were struggling to fill job vacancies, she said.
“It is really good to be able to get out and about and meet people and hear about these different issues. I think people would be quite surprised at the amount of poverty we have in our electorate, too.”
Labour candidate for Rangitata Jo Luxton.
Rangitata Act Party candidate Tom Corbett
National Party candidate for Rangitata Andrew Falloon
The Opportunities Party Rangitata candidate Olly Wilson