Economic recovery, housing hot topics

Taieri general election candidates addressed a full house in Balclutha on Thursday night.

Six of a total of eight candidates attended the Balclutha and Milton Rotary Clubs-organised event at the South Otago Town and Country Club, where they fielded questions from an attentive crowd of about 100.

Several of the candidates addressed the effects of Covid-19 on the newly formed Taieri electorate, which stretches from South Dunedin to Kaka Point.

Labour candidate Ingrid Leary said the Government’s response to Covid-19 had saved lives and jobs and laid the ground for economic recovery.

"We don’t want to change horses half way through the race," she said.

Chairman Stephen Woodhead (left) introduces election hopefuls for Taieri during the meet the...
Chairman Stephen Woodhead (left) introduces election hopefuls for Taieri during the meet the candidates night at the South Otago Town and Country Club in Balclutha on Thursday. From left are Scott Willis (Green), Ingrid Leary (Labour), Robert Andrews (Act), Stan Smith (ONE), Liam Kernaghan (National) and Mark Patterson (NZ First). PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

National Party candidate Liam Kernaghan acknowledged the Government’s response to Covid-19 had been a success in public health terms, but argued his party would be better placed to foster economic recovery.


He signalled National would make a series of announcements about an economic boost for the provinces next week.

New Zealand First list MP Mark Patterson referenced the "ignominious" departures of preceding Clutha-Southland electorate National MPs Todd Barclay and Hamish Walker, both of who resigned following highly publicised scandals.

In a dig at Mr Kernaghan, he said local voters had previously been let down by "young, shiny National candidates".

Although many of the subjects raised drew the expected polar responses from the hopefuls, there was significant consensus on others.

Among these were ways to address the housing deficit in Clutha; issues with the growth of methamphetamine use in the district; and increasing funding for St John, which is considering reducing paid paramedic staffing in Milton at present.

Green candidate Scott Willis said he would advocate for social and community housing to be built, and improvements to make existing housing "attractive, affordable and accessible".

Others echoed his calls for better-targeted Government investment in new housing.

Chairman Stephen Woodhead closed the evening by inviting candidates to address recent concerns over new freshwater legislation.

Act New Zealand candidate Robert Andrews said the widely criticised "unworkable" rules only served to support his party’s emphasis on limited government.

Candidates Warren Voight (Social Credit), and David Webber (independent) did not attend.

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