On 19 June James Palmer took over as chief executive of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. As he wades into…
We need to find a way of doing water storage in central Hawke’s Bay and on the Heretaunga Plain. The Ruataniwha dam in its concept, the theory behind it I agree with; the execution of it has been poorly done. LAWRENCE YULE
First up, Lawrence Yule, National Party •
BB: Lawrence, you’ve been an elected official for over 20 years now, and presumably looking for another 10 or so. What makes you want to do this?
• L: I do enjoy public office. What I like about it is every day I see people where I can make a di erence to their lives. I get asked to help people with a lot of things, whether they’re corporates or private individuals, and I can do some things to make a difference and that gives me a sense of satisfaction, and I enjoy it. I enjoy public service, I think, more than I ever would the commercial world.
• BB: Some say you’re more focused on your political career than you are on the people of your electorate. You told the people of Hastings that you’d be their full-term mayor.
• L: I accept that I was asked a direct question at the mayoral forum, would I serve out my three years? And I said yes. And I accept that this is a change in circumstances, but before I reached that position I’d been asked to consider standing against Craig Foss. I talked to him about it. He said he was standing for another three years. I took him at his word and I made my decision to stand for the mayoralty. And, equally, I’ve given a lot of service to this district: 15 years as the mayor. I now have an opportunity to work in a di erent environment for the people of the same district, so I’m not going into a corporate job or walking away. I have the ability to use my skills to advance the lives of people that live here.
• BB: What are our biggest issues with water here in the Bay?
• L: Water is going be the biggest issue for the next decade or so. The Havelock North water crisis is a terrible thing to happen to any community, but actually it could happen anywhere in New Zealand, and our defence against water quality for human consumption has largely been reliant on chlorination. The places that don’t have chlorination, there is a real risk in terms of contamination of the supply or the network. But as we’ve got further into this, and looked at what is happening with our aquifers, and we’ve found new water, that to me is the biggest issue, particularly on the Heretaunga Plains. So, understanding where that new water might be coming from poses real issues that we don’t understand yet. I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on the surface water, even though we want to improve the water quality, but I don’t think we know enough about what’s happening in the ground water
. • S: You did say you were going to fix the Hastings water issues by the mid-year. How?
• L: The people here do not want chlorine in their system. We have young water potentially getting into our aquifer somewhere, the risk of that is you’ve got protozoa in there which are not treated by chlorination. So, where we found young water, we’re gonna have to put UV treatment plants. They are probably a million dollars per plant. I would put Brookvale Road at about $800,000. So, the conversation we’ll have with the community is, if you don’t want chlorination, we can make the water safe by doing this and here is the money that’s been allocated. I’m pretty confi dent we can make all those decisions by 30th June.
• BB: You’ve campaigned before on your own personal appeal and record. Now you have a party to defend as well. Will that change how you present yourself ?
• L: It will be very di erent because running for a party, the party vote is everything. So, it will be di erent and I have to learn the di erence of running under a political slogan, for want of a better word, or a party, but I’m going to a party that I strongly support, that I believe most New Zealanders strongly support, so I don’t think it’ll be too much of an issue.
• BB: Your Labour opponent says that the National Government has let Hawke’s Bay down in areas like housing, education and police. What do you say?
• L: I disagree with that. I think the fundamentals of what the National Government has done have been to get us through, in really good economic health, the fi nancial recession. They made some decisions around things like policing that meant that they were actually forcing e ciencies out of the police force, and I was concerned about some of that in terms of less police on the ground etc. They’ve now addressed that and are gonna add 1,000 extra police over a period of time to deal. So, I think they’ve responsibly handled that. Housing, yes, I’m worried about housing, but housing is actually an issue that has spawned out of success. You know, in a recessionary time housing wasn’t really too much of an issue, but since the economy started booming again, there are people that don’t have access to accommodation, we can’t fi nd enough builders, enough sections, all those things that go with that.
Pseudoephedrine and all the impacts of P in ruining lives in our communities, and I want it eliminated. I cannot get my head around why P is so readily available, it’s destroying so many lives, and I want to be a strong advocate within the government of finding policies that’ll harden that up. LAWRENCE YULE
• BB: What disagreements might you have with the National Party?
• L: I haven’t gone in there to disagree. I’ve gone in there to try and change some things which I fundamentally believe in. For instance, I think we need to be really careful in how we manage the economic growth of New Zealand versus the management of our environment, because the two are intrinsically linked. And I wanna make sure that whatever decisions we make, we understand the holistic picture. I also want to encourage and give strength to the government to deal with climate change.
• BB: What are your top three policy goals if elected?
• L: We need to fi nd a way of doing water storage in central Hawke’s Bay and on the Heretaunga Plain. The Ruataniwha dam in its concept, the theory behind it I agree with; the execution of it has been poorly done. But if you look at climate change, then somehow we need to fi nd a way of storing water. I think there is a way of storing water, keeping the environmental aspects of that managed, and working with the iwi interests. I do not accept that we spent 25-odd million on the Ruataniwha dam, not a sod of dirt’s been turned and we’re gonna walk away from it. I want to reset that conversation. I also think we need to reset the conversation about whether we need water storage to supplement and support the Heretaunga Plains aquifer as well. Second, I’m really worried about P. Pseudoephedrine and all the impacts of P in ruining lives in our communities, and I want it eliminated. I cannot get my head around why P is so readily available, it’s destroying so many lives, and I want to be a strong advocate within the government of fi nding policies that’ll harden that up. Third is how we look after the social issues we face. We have a whole, big part of this community who are not connected with education, have poor quality housing arrangements, have poor family lives and they’re ending up as a constant drain on the rest of society. And if you look at the labour demands for this region going forward [these people] actually need to be successful. I strongly support the intervention of the state in an absolutely targeted way to try and fi x this.
• BB: How would you bring down the region’s unemployment rate?
• L: It’s about making some of these people that are not engaged and work-ready, work-ready. We have a whole lot of people that could work, and for a whole lot of reasons they’re not, and it seems amazing to me that we would bring in people from out of the region to do some of our work, and we’ve still got people on the unemployment benefi t. I support strong job growth that is fundamentally underpinned by a strong economy, which I’m hugely praising of the National Government for, and as we’re booming, those numbers should drop. If they don’t, we have a fundamental and systematic unemployment issue, which I think we do have in some parts of our community that needs to be addressed.
• BB: There are people who say you’re ‘old news’ at this point. How do you deal with people who want change?
• L: Yes, some people will want change, but they need to weigh that up with what they’re getting. Those people that wanted Craig Foss gone, they now have somebody new to vote for. They need to make the assessment as to who is the best person to deliver the best outcomes in Wellington. I think I bring a unique blend of skills that the others don’t, and I’m well connected to this electorate, I know this electorate well, I’ve been the leader of it for 15 years. I’ve had massive experience already in the parliamentary system even though I haven’t been in it as an MP, and the blend of that, I think, is a very strong thing to advance this region.
• BB: Your position in 20 words or less.
Taxing sugar? • L: No, I don’t support that. I think that’s an education thing.
• L: Yes, I do support that. I’ve seen a number of people who have died in agonising circumstances and I think there needs to be a di erent option for them.
• Charging for water?
• L: No, I think if you charge for water you need to charge everyone, and I think that may well be where we end up, but I think it needs to be consistent.
• GMO-free Hawkes Bay? • L: Yes, I’ve supported that and I will continue to do so, but if I can’t convince my parliamentary colleagues – should I get into the caucus – if that’s what they want, then the party line will be the one that’s adopted.
• L: I support water storage and I think we need to fi nd a way of irrigating the Ruataniwha Plains, but I don’t think the current model actually works.
• BB: In closing, take a minute to tell folks why they should vote for you?
• L: I’d be proud to be their member of parliament in Tukituki. I love this region, I’ve lived here all my life. I see immense opportunity on the back of a very solid economic performance at the moment. I think we can do a lot of other things way better. As an MP, I’m o ering to work tirelessly for the people of this electorate and spend some time in Wellington to make a di erence in terms of policies. People know how I operate. They know that I won’t let people down, that I’ll work hard for them, and I have very good connections, both locally and in Wellington. They are a unique set of skills, and I just ask that people would think about their party vote, in particular, which is the number one vote, they should support National, and if they judge my performance on what I’ve done and know my abilities, then I humbly ask they support me to be their elected MP as well.
Labour has a great policy that we will pay the equivalent of the dole to any school leaver or young person who is taken on as an apprentice. That’s a way that we can work with businesses to build apprenticeships, which is something that I have close to my heart. I learned my skills on the job. ANNA LORCK
And now Anna Lorck, Labour Party
• BB: What inside you as a person makes you want to run for o ce?
• A: I’ve got a self-determination to stand up for the region that I have lived and grown up and worked in all my life. I get my self-determination from being somebody that’s always felt a need to stand up for those people whose wings are clipped. I know fi rst-hand when I was 17 in my last year at school, I had all the dreams in the world of going to university. I can’t say I was probably a very good student all the time but I thought I tried hard. My principal in the 7th form class was talking about mediocre and he said, “If you want to know what mediocre looks like, look at Anna.” I thought to myself then, did I hear it right? I went home and I said to Mum and Dad, “I’m no good to go to university, I’m not good enough.” So I said I’m going to leave school, and Dad said I couldn’t leave school unless I had a job. The next day I went down town and I thought where can I get a job? I found myself outside the local community newspaper. So I thought well, I could be a community journalist. I walked in, asked to speak to the editor and an hour later I’d convinced him I was the next Lois Lane, and he said start Monday. It just happened that the local reporter was due to have a baby. They were desperate and I came in at the right time.
• BB: So you had something to prove?
• A: When people put you in a box or tell you what you can’t be, you need self-determination to go further and in today’s society we’re seeing more and more people being put in boxes. We’re seeing children that are standardised from the age of fi ve, they’re told that they are standard or below standard or above standard, and who are we to say what standard is? I don’t think anybody is mediocre.
• BB: What would be your top policy or programme goals if elected?
• A: Well I’ve got a big thing around education, and Labour has a real desire to see smaller class sizes. Education is seen as a real indicator of economic and social success, and when you’re talking out in the community, parents are concerned about these mega-schools and large class sizes. We’re seeing children being taught in corridors, in makeshift halls, in music rooms. Now we’re talking about class sizes of 40 … I’m really committed to seeing the promised school for Havelock North, which I think will now need to look at encompassing parts of Hastings as well potentially, with the huge rolls that we’re experiencing in the areas closer to Havelock North.
Under a Labour policy, we have policy around letting the local communities make local decisions that impact on their environment and impact on their economy. Now, what I’m interested in is seeing how we could possibly allow the community to have more say on water locally. ANNA LORCK
• BB: So education is one. What else?
• A: I’ve taken a real passionate interest in the challenges around getting a driver’s licence. Here in Hawke’s Bay we’re told that it’s going to cost around an average $800 to get your driver’s licence. There’s about 15,000 people that haven’t progressed through the system. I’ve calculated we’re looking there at a $15-20 million social and economic challenge, because I want to make sure that we’ve got people on a road to independence and to work, and driver’s licences are a huge issue in our region. The third one … I am passionate about housing. We’ve got these large sections with state houses on them with a lot of land that appears to be the quarter acre section that nobody is wanting anymore, but we need more social housing and we need to fi nd ways for a ordable housing. I’m staunchly opposed to selling state housing, but we need to come up with a way that makes our state housing warm, safe and dry. The biggest landlord in Camberley is the State. When you look at the condition of a lot of those houses that are the responsibility of the State as the landlord, it’s embarrassing.
• BB: Some people complain that you jump on every issue that comes along just to milk publicity. What do you say to that?
• A: I think someone who is across their community and in touch with all the issues, that’s part of being a good local MP. I also bring it back to my own experience as a community journalist, where you had to be across all issues because there was nobody else reporting on the issues in your community. So I’ve got a good grasp of what’s going on, and I’d rather be seen as somebody that is across everything than not be.
People know how I operate. They know that I won’t let people down, that I’ll work hard for them, and I have very good connections, both locally and in Wellington. LAWRENCE YULE
• BB: What do you and your party want to do about unemployment?
• A: One of the things that we’re working on is getting young people into work training or education. We’ve got a policy that’s working on the fi rst year of tertiary education being free for anybody that has not gone on, having left school, into education. For upskilling and also for those people that are losing their jobs and don’t have any tertiary qualifi cations to get a new job. Labour has a great policy that we will pay the equivalent of the dole to any school leaver or young person who is taken on as an apprentice. That’s a way that we can work with businesses to build apprenticeships, which is something that I have close to my heart. I learned my skills on the job. I do a lot of work with industry and when you look at the apple industry, where they are growing more full-time jobs, that there are opportunities there that we can get more and more people upskilling and into work.
• BB: What are our biggest issues with water in the Bay?
• A: The fi rst thing is to get a real understanding about the priorities for water. We need a far more ground level approach; we need to look at a local level at prioritising who needs the water, and it should be a local decision on whether people should be paying for it or who should pay for it. Under a Labour policy, we have policy around letting the local communities make local decisions that impact on their environment and impact on their economy. Now, what I’m interested in is seeing how we could possibly allow the community to have more say on water locally. We will be having a mayoral by-election, and there could be an opportunity to perhaps even have a referendum … Should locals be able to prioritise on who needs the water, and whether there should be a local decision-making process around whether people should pay for it or not.
• BB: Prioritising water, what do you mean by that?
• A: There are priorities for water. The first of course is safe fresh drinking water; the second is making sure that animals have water to drink, livestock; the third is fi ghting fi res; and I think there’s possibly another one in there around protecting the environment and environmental measures. What I’d be interested that we go out to the community and say, ‘if we were to look at the priorities for water, where would they be and at what point should we be looking at charging for water’?
• BB: What’s your view on the Ruataniwha dam?
• A: I lived in Central Hawke’s Bay for thirty years. I know they need security for water. I would support that type of water storage project if it stacked up environmentally and economically. We’re still to see that business case, and everybody’s having this cup of tea and I’ll have a cup of tea with anyone to get to that that conclusion
. • BB: Are there one or two areas where you think the current National Government has let Hawke’s Bay down?
• A: Taking away our local democracy when it comes to wanting to be a GM-free region. That shows how they want a top down approach, they want to take away our local decision-making powers. And that is something I think Labour is completely di erent on. We are embracing far more local decision-making. Selling o state houses when there are families in sheds, caravans. We’ve got one of the worst overcrowding statistics in the country, and we have empty state houses. Now it took me 18 months to fi ll one state house, all for reasons that were just insane, it was just wrong. That’s something that I would be passionately advocating against.
• BB: You managed past Yule campaigns, so obviously you’ve thought highly of him, but here you are standing against him.
• A: Over 20 years Lawrence has done his best, but the question now is whether his best is good enough.
• BB: You’ve criticised him for abandoning the people of Hastings, who he committed to serving as mayor. But what’s wrong with ambition? I mean, you’re an ambitious person?
• A: Well I think we have diferrent ambitions. I’m not a career politician; I’m not climbing the political ladder looking for the next job. My ambition is for the region. My ambition is to do more for the people here, and I think that o ers a very big di erence.
• BB: Some say you’re a fairly aggressive, noisy individual and it doesn’t seem to go down well with some people.
• A: I’m a very enthusiastic and energising person who is really positive about making a di erence. At times you do need to be outspoken. But I play with a straight bat and I’m not afraid to say what I think at the time, and I will stick by what I say. I don’t expect everybody to always agree with me, but I think people can believe me. I want to be a politician that people believe, that they know when Anna Lorck stands there and says this is what I’m’ going to do, that I will do that.
• BB: Your position in 20 words or less.
• A: Tax the sugar out of it and then I would tag all of that to education and obesity, working in those areas.
• A: I think that everybody should have the choice around that, and that’s a conscience vote.
Charging for water?
• A: We need to give the community that right to prioritise and, on charging for water, that again needs to be looked at by the community.
GMO-free Hawke’s Bay?
• A: Let’s grow GM-free and keep it that way.
• A: We’re all having a cup of tea on that.
• BB: In closing, take a minute to tell folks why they should vote for you.
• A: If you want an energetic, dynamic local MP who is standing up for the issues that matter to the people of Tukituki here, who you know won’t let you down, who will fi ght with a straight bat, who will stand up for what she believes in and who will take this region forward, then you should give me your vote because I’m all for Tukituki, and when it comes to that, that means being all for you. And may the best woman wins.