Letter To Manakau: Talking To Leaders
Letter to Manukau
Friday 11 April 2008 Issue 17
In this update
• Talking to leaders
• Meet the mayor
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Talking To Leaders
As leader of this city, I spent three days earlier this week in Wellington meeting cabinet ministers and the leaders of every political party in Parliament other than Helen Clark who was in China.
In her stead, I met Deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen.
I also talked to Housing Minister Maryan Street and Education Minister Pete Hodgson as well as Opposition Leader John Key, his deputy Bill English and local National Party MPs Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson.
I had discussions with party leaders Winston Peters, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Dr Pita Sharples and Peter Dunne.
The leaders and ministers gave me a good hearing and there were many strong signs of support for addressing the issues I put forward.
There’s clearly strong backing for laws to combat graffiti.
I hope our own local Manukau Control of Graffiti Bill will become law next week. Legislation applying to the whole country should be in place in July.
I’m chairing a group which will give strategic advice to the government about a national graffiti strategy which will be rolled out in July. This group met in Wellington during my visit.
There’s a lot of work to be done to deliver our goal – a 95 percent drop in graffiti.
Our council will soon be putting through a wider strategy to complement the legislation and make sure we deliver on this goal.
During my meetings with party leaders, I also raised the need for changes to liquor licensing laws.
Our communities should have input into whether any new off-licences are set up in or near small suburban shopping blocks.
The MPs expressed strong support for this.
They recognise the problems communities like ours are facing concerning access to alcohol and the impact on young people.
I’m hoping Parliament will back George Hawkins’ private members Bill to give communities more say. It has yet to come before the House.
I approached all leaders about changes to the Prostitution Reform Act which is currently being reviewed.
We need to address the safety of street workers, given that their activities are often linked to gangs and drugs.
The party leaders generally supported my call for a law change to help Manukau and other cities battling this issue.
I also talked about our education issues.
We need a university in this city and we are also short of preschools.
Our Maori and Pacific children are attending preschool education at a rate well below the national average. It’s essential all our children get off to a flying start in their early years.
I also spent a lot of time talking about our transportation needs.
We must have an integrated transport strategy for Manukau.
In particular, I talked about the importance of ferries on the Waitemata Harbour as a public transport option and the need for an upgraded Half Moon Bay ferry terminal.
I supported continued commitment to the electrification of the main trunk rail line and stressed the need to link the airport and CBD by rail.
I expressed appreciation for the funding coming through for a second Manukau Harbour crossing alongside the present Mangere Bridge. But I called for the AMETI project in the eastern suburbs to become part of the national roading network and be funded from taxpayers rather than ratepayers.
It will cost $1.33 billion over 15 years with Manukau’s share running to hundreds of millions. We just can’t sustain that level of spending.
My meetings enabled me to remind party leaders of the importance of our city, not just in the region, but in the whole country.
About 9 percent of New Zealand’s population lives here and we contribute a similar level of national GDP.
We are very culturally diverse and very young.
I left the leaders in no doubt that the well-being of our city economically, socially, culturally and environmentally is a crucial indicator of how well our country is doing.
I was very heartened by their positive responses to all my concerns and urgings on behalf of our community.
Central government often refers to its partnership with local government.
In my experience, the relationship is one of a very, very senior partner and a very, very junior one.
However, the leaders and ministers I met all greeted me as an equal at the table.
Our community can be sure there is a strong determination in our Parliament to walk alongside our city and our people.