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Chamber puts acid on council candidates

Media Release

Friday 23 August

Chamber puts acid on council candidates

Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce is putting the acid on candidates standing for election to the city council by asking them 17 key questions, with the answers to be made public.

The questions range from candidates’ vision for the city, and how to attract new business, to how councillors should be paid, and if building owners should receive ratepayer assistance to strengthen earthquake-prone buildings.

Chamber Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley said councillors had a vital role to play in how the city progressed so it was essential that ratepayers had an opportunity to see what the candidates stood for and their ideas on key areas ahead of the election, which closes on October 12.

“Their responses should tell us a lot. We want people with vision and expertise on our council, and that goes for councillors as well as the mayor.

“The Chamber is non-partisan, and does not endorse any individual candidates or political parties. But it does support local government policies that enable businesses to flourish and that promote the interests of Wellington.

“We are asking these questions in the interests of enhanced transparency and good democracy so we can identify candidates who support actions and policies which will enhance Wellington as a good city to do business in.

“It is vital that everyone is as informed as they can be heading into this election. Wellington is at a crossroads and we need a council that is fit for purpose and ready and capable to taking on the challenges ahead.

“Ratepayers need the answers to these questions to be clear and unequivocal. We expect the questions to be answered as fully as possible.”

Raewyn Bleakley said they had asked that the questionnaire be returned by 2 September.

“Once we receive and collate them we will make them available to ratepayers through our website.

“We will make sure it is obvious where candidates have not answered a question and where they have not responded at all. We expect ratepayers to make their own judgment if that happens.

“I expect the answers to prompt further questions when the Wellington Employers’ Chamber partners with the Dominion Post and Massey University to host the mayoral candidates’ debate.”

This will be held at Massey on 12 September at 5.30pm. It will be a free event open to the public.

The Chamber’s 17 questions to candidates are:

- Outline your vision for Wellington city in 2015.

- Outline five specific initiatives you would support to ensure Wellington has a business-friendly environment.

- Name five key priorities you see for infrastructural investment in the Wellington region over the next five years.

- Do you think the runway at Wellington Airport needs to be extended. If so, how should it be paid for? How much should ratepayers contribute?

- What is needed to improve public transport in Wellington?

- What are your views on amalgamations with neighbouring councils? Should we have a super city in Wellington?

- Please identify three courses of action you would want to promote to ensure a vibrant inner central city.

- Do you support Wellington City Council adopting a Living Wage policy where it brings the wage rate of all its staff who are under $18.40 an hour up to this level?

- What are your views on the range of activities Wellington City Council gets involved in and its level of overall expenditure? Should council constrain its spending and its rates take?

- Do you support the use of differential rates whereby all business ratepayers pay more than residential ratepayers per dollar of rateable land? If so, why?

- What are your views on council ownership of non-core assets including trading enterprises of council i.e. those assets that are not essential to run local government? What do you define as core or strategic assets and why?

- What are your views on the council’s use of debt to fund projects? Do you think the council has an appropriate level of debt?

- Do you think councillors should be paid in proportion to the number of meetings they attend, or through a fixed annual fee, or in some other way?

- How should Crown Controlled Organisations (CCOs) be governed? Should councillors sit on these boards?

- List three things the council could do to attract businesses to Wellington.

- Should Wellington building owners receive assistance from government or council for earthquake strengthening? What about heritage buildings?

- List five key issues that you consider need addressing by the council in the next three years.

The last day to enrol in the local elections is 11 October. Postal voting opens on 20 September, and all voting papers must be hand delivered or posted to arrive by midday Saturday 12 October.


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