Candidates put through paces

Taieri parliamentary candidates (from left) Robert Andrews (Act New Zealand), Scott Willis (Green...
Taieri parliamentary candidates (from left) Robert Andrews (Act New Zealand), Scott Willis (Green), Ingrid Leary (Labour), Liam Kernaghan (National), Mark Patterson (New Zealand First), Stan Smith (One) and Warren Voight (Social Credit) at a candidate forum at Caversham Baptist Church on Sunday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Mandatory vaccinations, a housing shortage and an increase in benefits were some of the topics discussed at a Taieri parliamentary candidates forum.

About 120 people attended the forum at Caversham Baptist Church on Sunday.

Some of the audience asked candidates questions.

A woman asked if any of them would increase benefits.

Labour’s Ingrid Leary said the problem with raising benefits was "the money tends to go in the back pockets of landlords" because beneficiaries often rented.

Target assistance such as lunches in schools and winter energy payments "has more impact".

Another woman asked about candidates’ plans to combat a housing shortage.

National’s Liam Kernaghan said the Resource Management Act needed to be reformed to free up more land, encourage development and increase housing supply.

A man asked how the candidates would support rail projects.

New Zealand First’s Mark Patterson said he wanted an inland rail port to be established at Milburn.

He also wanted a commuter rail service to be established to transport some of the hundreds of people travelling daily to work at Silver Fern Farms Finegand plant in Balclutha.

A high school pupil asked candidates how they would help reduce the youth suicide rate.

Social Credit’s Warren Voight said his party would " reset the economy" because 35 years of "neo-liberal economics from successive governments" had impacted negatively on mental health.

"I’ve worked in mental health and I’ve seen the evidence of it."

A man asked candidates how they would remove bureaucracy in government.

Green’s Scott Willis said the Zero Carbon Bill gave clarity on what the Government should make decisions on.

"We need to be making decisions through a climate lens ... if you create a standard, we can move faster."

A woman asked candidates if vaccinations should be mandatory.

Every candidate said no.

Earlier in the meeting, Act’s Robert Andrews said the biggest issue facing New Zealand was its economic recovery.

"The only way we are going to get out of it is by exporting and increasing productivity — to do that we are going to have to cut compliance and red tape and get the economy moving again."

Central Otago had a shortage of orchard workers due to workers in Vanuatu not being able to enter New Zealand due to Covid-19 restrictions, despite the virus not being in Vanuatu.

Orchard owners "feel like they are banging their head against a brick wall to get the Government to understand we need these guys".

One’s Stan Smith said Christian values were being lost due to the Government.

"We’ve had an extreme abortion law passed, we have a euthanasia bill on the horizon and we have a drug culture pushed on us."

More than 1million voting Christians live in New Zealand, he said.

"If they could stand united we would see a Christian party in Parliament."

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