Three candidates of the Auckland Central electorate have gone head-to-head in a debate on radio station 95bFM.
Labour’s Helen White, the National Party’s Emma Mellow, and the Green Party’s Chlöe Swarbrick were present on the station’s current affairs show, The Wire, last Thursday, and debated on topics including student life, public transport, local government, arts and events and poverty.
The debate was mostly orderly, but occasionally boiled over while discussing public transport, poverty, and mandatory student association membership.
All candidates were asked their thoughts on Auckland University’s decision to not give a grade bump to all students for Semester 2.
Swarbrick said it has been a huge challenge to coordinate a cross-country response because student associations have become powerless under voluntary membership, which caused a divergence on how universities respond.
She wanted to see a uniformed approach between universities.
That was echoed by White, who said student associations have become weaker under voluntary membership, and strengthening them is important.
“They don’t have the same pulling power and ability to really advocate as they did.”
“Universities tend to be full of pretty powerful and intimidating people on issues like this.”
But Mellow, who recently finished postgraduate at Auckland University, disagreed, saying students should be able to choose if they want to have a union membership.
While on transport, White claimed more central housing is needed to reduce commute times, while all candidates agreed more measures to support electric vehicles are needed..
All candidates also agreed Auckland’s local government needed more respect from the central government so local matters would have the support they need.
They all had their own areas of focus, and felt they were the best people to be the representative for Auckland’s local government.
Next, the conversation moved to arts and culture, with small venues being a key focus as Karangahape Road is considered the soul of Auckland Central and the location of many of these venues.
Finally, after we heard their stances on student life, the conversation moved to poverty, with emergency housing, the city mission and funding for health and education all being discussed.
This debate would be the last of which the three candidates would be present at the same stage.
Justin Wong and James Tapp were the moderator and producer of the debate.