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Matt McCarten for mayor - Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton
20 September 2001 Speech Notes

Matt McCarten for mayor


Public meeting for Matt McCarten,
Alliance candidate for mayor of Auckland

Mount Albert Primary School
Taylors Road,
Mount Albert.

Thursday, 20 September 2001


The Alliance has a proud history in Auckland.

In late 1992 the Alliance won effective control of regional government.

The anti-privatisation campaign led by the late Bruce Jesson won 42% of the regional vote.

Eighty candidates were elected, and the Alliance secured a majority of seats on the Auckland Regional Services Trust.

Our success then was based on opposition to the sale of the Ports of Auckland and
other publicly owned assets.

The Alliance successfully prevented the privatisation of assets and paid off a quarter of a billion dollars of debt some fifteen years ahead of schedule.

The Alliance proved that public enterprise can be successful.

I have some history with Auckland local body campaigns.

As a younger politician I served on both the Auckland and Manukau City Councils, the Auckland Regional Authority, and I twice stood for mayor here in Auckland City.

These days I represent a seat in Christchurch: The city that prides it self in the name 'The People's Republic of Christchurch."

It got that name from the Business Roundtable who attacked the city for refusing to privatise its assets.

Christchurch City owns its port, airport, energy company and a successful Canterbury Development Corporation.

Retaining its assets has allowed Christchurch to invest heavily in the future of the city.

Socially, environmentally and economically, it is a success story.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to open the Sustainable Auckland Congress.

The conference was about the social, economic and environmental development of Auckland.

All three of these have to be considered together – you can't have one without the other.

We need economic development to be able to afford the social policies that make the city desirable.

Neither of these can be at the expense of the environment.

Economic development and economic performance generally are not ends in themselves.

They are vital tools towards realising a vision in which we can all share.

It's vital for the whole community to be included and work together.

Local authorities, and community groups, businesses of all descriptions, and central government have to sit down and work together.

If they act in isolation, opportunities will be lost.

Problems will remain unsolved.

Those left out of participating in decisions over their future will not support the vision.

That's why partnership is the central pillar of the government's approach to economic development.

For a generation, central Government has been the missing partner in economic development.

This Labour-Alliance Coalition Government is committed to working in partnership with the private sector, local authorities, iwi, and the wider community to make sustainable development a reality.

It's not that long ago that the rest of New Zealand always believed that Aucklanders could never get around the table and work together to solve the region's problems.

Yet the Auckland region is, as I speak, working together on some of the immense problems it faces.

It's likely that the Government's Regional Partnerships approach has helped that process.

One of the most striking differences between the economic approach of this government, compared to its predecessors, is our heavy emphasis on regional development.

But when we started out, people asked me 'how does Auckland fit into this?'

My reply is that Auckland is a region.

Like other regions, it needs a plan – a vision for where it is going.

It needs to work together, involving the whole community in deciding its highest priorities.

If that process has been pushed along by this Government's commitment to Regional Partnerships, then we have been successful.

Auckland has begun some positive work across the region.

But the challenges are immense.

Auckland represents approximately 37% of the New Zealand
economy.

It has a profound effect on the rest of the country.

And in Auckland, as much as anywhere, the links between social, environmental
and economic issues are obvious.

The transport problem that frustrates every Aucklander is one example.

It has an enormous economic impact in slowing commercial activity and increasing the costs of distributing products.

It has extensive environmental impacts, as the Regional Council forcefully pointed out in the recent debate over diesel emissions.

And it has social implications.

Some are obvious, such as the impact on employment, and the consequences that follow, when the economy is slowed by repeated traffic jams.

Some are not obvious, but still potent, such as the deprivation of family time caused by daily rush-hour delays.

Other social consequences will surely flow from the difficulties faced by poorer Aucklanders in trying to travel around Auckland without a car.

Health problems flow from exposure to poisonous emissions in the atmosphere.

Put like this, it's easy to see how social policy, economic policy and environmental policy are linked.

Sustainable development extends far beyond merely Auckland's infamous traffic problems.

Competitive Auckland has identified that improving economic performance will require an across-the-board approach:

- To the region's infrastructure.

- To creating an environment which supports high amenity and lifestyle values;

- And increased investment in education.

And nowhere in New Zealand more than in Auckland is it vital to see improved economic performance shared by the least affluent.

Many New Zealanders like to paint a picture of a flashy Auckland, full of yuppies on cell phones.

And the same myth says that most of New Zealand's poverty resides in places like Northland and the East Coast.

It's certainly true that there is a very high proportion of New Zealanders living in need in those regions.

But of all New Zealand, simply because of its size and diversity, the greatest concentration of social deprivation is in Auckland.

Let me spell out 'social deprivation':

- Poor housing.

- Poor health.

- Low incomes, and the absence of skills to lift incomes.

- Widespread unemployment.

- High levels of crime.

- Poor literacy.

- Kids who don't get the family life most of us take for granted.

Auckland's development requires a vision for lifting the disadvantaged up.

Leaving behind a substantial proportion of the population is not an acceptable option and it won't work in developing the city as a whole.

I often say that you can't have a strong national economy, if you have weak regions.

Equally, you cannot have a strong economy here in Auckland, if significant parts of the Auckland population are disadvantaged.

I believe Matt McCarten will be a mayor who offers that vision for Auckland.

And I want to compare his opponents.

Chris Fletcher and John Banks are failed National Party Cabinet Ministers.

They caused the problems in the first place!

Who tried to force Auckland to sell its assets?

The National Party government that John and Christine belonged to.

Who failed for nearly a decade in office to work in partnership with Auckland to solve its problems?

The National Party government that John and Christine belonged to.

And now, having failed to do anything for Auckland when they had the whole of the National Government behind them, they want to be mayor?

Matt McCarten is an experienced politicans.

He hasn't held office in any local body in this city, but he has been closely involved in the Auckland local body scene since that successful 1992 campaign.

People said that the Alliance would mess it all up when we came into Government.

After all, we had no experience in government.

These days, even some of our harshest critics concede that we haven't messed it up.

Last week I was Acting Prime Minister, in what can only be described as 'the week from Hell.'

I had to lead New Zealand's response to the appalling terrorist attacks in the US.

And at the same time the immense difficulties of Air New Zealand were coming to a head for the Government.

(As an aside – if anyone wants a conclusive argument against privatisation, they need not look any further than Air New Zealand).

Yet last week, I think the Government performed credibly.

It goes to show that experience is not the telling difference: Attitude is.

The attitude of public service, and a commitment to working selflessly and professionally for your fellow New Zealand.

Matt McCarten has that attitude.

I warmly endorse his candidacy.

ENDS

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