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Chris Fletcher Speech: Gaba Debate

Chris Fletcher Candidate Auckland City Gaba Debate 08 September

I want to tell you why I’m fighting for Auckland.

Some say it’s personal - that I have a vendetta against Banks.

I don't. I'm simply frustrated that our hard fought for strategic plan of 2000 “First City of the Pacific” has stalled.

The Herald suggests I give Dick Hubbard a clear ride because anything seems better than Banks.

Well that’s a very short-term view. As a Jafa through and through I am not about to support a candidate who on the basis of a few vague policy statements has shown himself to be no less a front for the roading lobby than Banks himself.

My assessment thus far is voting in Mr. Hubbard will be a matter of changing style not substance.

He supports the completion of the Eastern Motorway. I don't.

He suggests Auckland becoming a city of four million people. I don't.

He suggests Auckland needs four harbour crossings. I don't. We won't just have spaghetti junction then we'll have spaghetti harbour!

He supports selling our airport shares. I don't.

He nominates his mentors as being American business gurus. I don't.

I support acting in the best interests of Auckland, independently and putting Auckland first, as I have always done.

I will not be intimidated by lobby groups - business, media or roading.

No city wants a Mayor who crumples at the first sign of adversity.

This race will not be over until this blonde, rather fat lady sings

I am not anti-road or anti-business.

I support the completion of the SH 20 link.

But I am now the ONLY candidate opposed to the Eastern Motorway.

I have fought this issue for 15 years in Parliament, as Mayor and through my volunteer community work to prevent the wasteful investment of billions of dollars in a silly scheme that will do nothing to ease congestion.

It is environmentally destructive and foolish. Beware the weasel words of those seeking to appease you with a "scaled down version". That's like suggesting you are only a little bit pregnant.

I m now awaiting the announcement of the scaling down of the V8 race to a V6 or V4 event or better still a bicycle race.

While Banks and Hubbard argue the size of their toys, they are neglecting the agreed regional priorities. These were developed under my Chairmanship of the Regional Mayoral Forum in partnership with the Mayors and the wonderful late Phil Warren.

That is what needs to be done in Auckland.

Infrastructure investment cannot be held up by the type of parochialism displayed by Mr Banks - it must be strategic therefore regionally agreed and sustainable.

Britomart was the circuit breaker. It is the interchange for a new system where commuters transfer between state of the art rail, bus and ferry services.

For this to work we must urgently upgrade our underutilised railway investment, with the rail corridors now back in control with fast new electric trains and light rail.

Light rail above ground (tram based) to link the CBD through Britomart with the universities, Newmarket and the Western line,

I want people to rave about our public transport system just as they do when they return from Melbourne or Perth.

Don't let them fool you that we have to become a larger city for light rail to work. That is nonsense. We can do it now on our existing population base.

SH 20 is the priority for completion mitigating the environmental effects. (Using cut and cover techniques.)

We require new piers and greater choice of ferry services, taking advantage of our harbour city status, just as Sydney has done. We must complete the bus lanes and provide really safe “park and ride” facilities preventing the current crowding of inner-city streets.

Finally Auckland must be a pedestrian and bicycle friendly city. We must invest in our footpaths and cycle ways. Our children should be walking and cycling to school not driving a car.

I am also the only candidate espousing a growth strategy that takes into account the unique values and landscapes of this beautiful city.

I oppose the current population targets for Auckland signed off by the current Mayor and ARC.

John wants another 250,000 people. Goodness knows where he plans to put them. No doubt his property developer friends have some plans.

Well that's better than Mr. Hubbard's view that Auckland should plan for a mega-city of four million people.

Forgive me sounding preachy but the character in our neighbourhoods, heritage and iconic landscape will be utterly lost.

I’m perplexed that Mr. Hubbard can also passionately espouse “sensible, pragmatic sustainability policies” in virtually the same breath.

That’s bad breath.

The economic base to our city cannot be focussed so completely on property development.

The common Hubbard/Banks view is not sustainable.

Our economic future must embrace tourism.

Our manufacturing sector is important but we will never be able to compete with China on labour costs. We have to pitch at high value niche markets.

This makes wise stewardship for our environment crucial. We must attract and retain innovative, entrepreneurial, creative people to generate the create jobs and capital.

These people will choose Auckland for quality of life. They won’t want slums, congestion and smog. They want to see our clear blue sky.

Aucklanders must therefore have a say on the size and style of our city.

Any growth must include plans for social services like schools and hospitals as well as the parks, playing fields, storm water and transport.

Bank’s plan is largely silent on these issues.

We are not coping with our existing population.

Mr. Hubbard wants 4 million people. Hello? Not for the Auckland I want to live in thanks.

Functioning communities need detail and planning. Education and health are human rights issues. I am proud of New Zealand’s international reputation but we could put this in jeopardy if we close our minds to the future needs of people and communities in our plans.

I believe in fair play and have always endeavoured to be a force for good in politics. I don’t stand on the sideline.

I have a strong track record on human rights built over 15 years.

In politics some people take the option of the easy road avoiding the hard issues. That is not the path I have chosen.

I was brought up to believe in "to thine own self be true".

Silence and apathy is as deadly to justice as the poison and voice of prejudice.

I am proud to be the patron of the GABA Trust.

So tonight. Two men and one woman. Different styles of leadership - different policies. The choice is yours.

Mr. Banks. Well as Forest Gump would say "you all know what I think about that."

Mr. Hubbard. Undoubtedly a less strident individual. I find it ironic that some media have lauded him for the very virtues of inclusiveness and consensus which they find such a vice in me. But hey that’s politics. I'm over it.

But I wonder when we get past the personality stuff (the love and lust stage) and issues start to dominate - will we discover Mr. Hubbard is essentially John Banks in sheep's clothing.

I wonder what the real motivation is for Mr. Hubbard to enter this race - at the last possible moment. Great PR. It leaves little time for public scrutiny of policies.

Mr. Hubbard says his candidacy was driven by the disrespectful way Mr. Banks addressed the Mayor of North Shore.

Well good on him. But where was he when Mr. Banks was being disrespectful to the pensioners of Auckland and ready to throw them out of their homes. I was there.

Where was Mr. Hubbard when honest citizens were being arrested in the Council Chamber for daring to speak against Mr Banks?

I was there.

Where was Mr. Hubbard when the Annual Plan submissions needed to be made on the Birch report or the enormous and unbudgeted costs for the Eastern Motorway being dismissed? I don't remember him.

But I was there.

I was there and I will be there. I have delivered on every political commitment I have ever made.

I have the experience, I know what will work.

With me you know there is no other agenda at play. I am independent and will work with or without a majority on Council.

We don't need any more consultants reporting on reports.

We have a plan - Let’s just do it.

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