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Christine Fletcher: Chamber of Commerce speech

Christine Fletcher: Chamber of Commerce speech 14 September

Chamber Of Commerce Address By Chris Fletcher Mayoral Candidate For Auckland City

September 14, 2004

The day of the figurehead mayor is over.

Competitive cities demand a working mayor that understands detail and the big picture.

Auckland has suffered from leadership that talks big and spins.

The result is a stalled city.

Nothing new has shifted in the Banks term. The arteries are clogged, the heart is stuttering. The economy survives on a wing and a prayer. Banks is winging it, and Hubbard is praying for it.

I'm fighting for Auckland and our agreed regional Auckland plans.

The ground work was laid with Phil Warren and the mayors during my term as chair of the Mayoral Forum.

The solutions are there. We just need to do it.

I have the skills to facilitate this - across the political boundaries, with the private and public sectors working together for the future.

I have proven this can be done without majority.

There is nothing in the skill set of these two men that gives me any confidence they will get it done. They are either lone rangers or dream schemers.

I was pleased when Hubbard joined the race. But watching the arrogance of this candidate, who doesn't read city plans because he thinks he can sleep walk into the mayoralty by being Mr Nice Guy, doesn't wash with me now.

He stupidly suggests we start from scratch. It demonstrates how little he understands that the time for urgent action is now.

His campaign has been a series of whimsical, warm fuzzy statements in the Herald.

His debate on the hustings hasn't stretched beyond endearing little parables about trees and street kids.

When challenged on an issue, his only answer is "that's a concept worth looking at."

Well that's not good enough.

The concepts have already been looked at.

If you don't have a view on them you shouldn't be in the race.

Dick's support is collapsing, as people realise that being a nice guy is not enough. If he was elected, the bureaucrats would have him for breakfast as their political flake. I am not going to abandon the principles and policies I have fought for for more than 15 years.

Neither will I abandon the people who are depending on me.

People who are afraid of losing their homes and our precious environment to the Eastern Motorway, people who are afraid of big business taking over the mayoralty, people who will feel powerless if we leave it to two business titans to squabble over city hall spoils.

It is becoming clearer by the day that voting in Mr Hubbard will be a matter of changing style not substance.

Who will represent the real people?

I am not intimidated any by lobby groups - big business or roading.

The 1998 council was the first in 50 years not to have a majority - that meant we had to have a business plan that everyone owned.

The plan is there calling for amalgamation under one Regional Council - all seven councils, with entities for transport, water, tourism and events.

Competitive Auckland - initiated out of my office and funded by Auckland City - demanded this.

The city must play its role in setting the direction for growth. It needs good governance and the right infrastructure.

The transport plan needs action. Stop the time-wasting debate on the Eastern Motorway and get on with completing the agreed SH20.

Britomart was the circuit breaker. It forced Government's hand on the rail corridors and got the region and Infrastructure Auckland together.

With the right determination we can now upgrade our under-utilised railway investment. We need fast new electric trains and the 2001 light rail system.

I want people to rave about our city and public transport - just as they do when they return from Melbourne.

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.

Mr Banks wants another 250,000 people. Well that's better than Mr Hubbard's view that Auckland should plan for a mega-city of four million people.

Under Hubbard, the definition of sustainability will mean loss of neighbourhood character, heritage and iconic landscape. And you better forget about access to schools or hospitals.

It is clear to me why Mr Hubbard entered this race at the last possible moment - to minimise the time where his political naivety could be exposed as a crippling weakness.

He says he was driven to it given 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?

Where was Mr Hubbard when honest citizens were being arrested in the Council Chamber for daring to speak up, damaging our international reputation as free thinking nation?

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?

Where was he when we were calling for submissions on a 50 year vision?

He was silent.

He wasn't doing the hard yards then and he isn't now.

Mr Hubbard - the reality is that the work has already been done. We don't need to waste more ratepayer money on consultants reports.

The only time he has made any definitive statement to date was last Friday patronising me on the GE issue.

How cynical.

I am told Hubbard asked his customers what they wanted on GE. They told him they wanted the product GE free.

He refused to put that on his cereal packets because it would look messy and, get this, said it would be unfair to his competitors. That's what he tells to his customer audience.

Then to the Employers and Manufacturers Association, as a politician, he tells them something else.

I stand for a GE-free Auckland on food and the environment.

Our city has become too dependent on property speculation. History shows that a bust follows every boom. Our economic future must embrace tourism.

There is a plan.

There is a way forward.

There is no short cut.

No more spin.

I'm ready to lead.

ENDS

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