Candidates and audience assemble in Opoho Presbyterian
Church. Photo by Peter Dowden
There was heckling and applause as Dunedin City Council
candidates were divided over oil and gas exploration at the
first of a two-night election forum in Opoho last night.
The reactions came as 13 of the city's Central Ward council
candidates set out their election stalls in front of about
120 people at the Opoho Presbyterian Church.
The two-hour forum was a largely restrained affair, as
candidates - including mayoral candidates also running for
council seats - were given 90 seconds each to pitch to the
audience before answering a series of curly questions.
However, the polite applause dried up as candidates pledged
to support or oppose oil and gas exploration off the Dunedin
coast, and council investment in a service base in the city.
Dunedin businessman Doug Hall's description of a world
running on oil drew cries of ''climate change'' while shouts
of ''no'' followed Pete George's claim most drilling was
However, there was applause as incumbent Mayor Dave Cull said
it was time to stop looking in risky places for fossil fuels,
while also suggesting the city should share any royalties if
Hilary Calvert insisted life was full of managed risk, and
the industry should be welcomed as long as it was safe, but
Aaron Hawkins described the idea of safe oil and gas as
''something of an oxymoron''.
Lindsay Harrison said those like him who drove cars should be
prepared to accept the risks that came with the industry.
The talking points didn't get easier as questions turned to
the waterfront hotel, Forsyth Barr Stadium and water
Most candidates supported continued fluoridation of the
city's drinking water, citing scientific evidence, although
John Evans worried the practice threatened babies'
development and Cr Paul Hudson said a public referendum ''has
to happen at some stage''.
Candidates were also almost in agreement over the stadium,
with most wanting to make it work, Ali Copeman describing it
as an ''asset'' and Kevin Dwyer insisting it should be sold.
Rachel Elder supported a five-star hotel, but not at 27
storeys, while Christine Garey hoped for a compromise on the
''inappropriate'' height and location.
Concerns were also expressed about the safety of cyclists
mixing with heavy vehicles while using on-road cycling lanes,
which Malcolm Dixon described as a ''recipe for disaster''.