Survey’s disappointment and delight

Equality advocate Peter Malcom.

“Disappointed,” says Peter Malcolm of the income equality group, Closing the Gaps after a mixed response to its survey of local body candidates.

“What does it say about candidates trying to hide their approach to important issues for our society, their answers to the tough questions?”

On the other hand, the equality advocate is delighted the candidates that did respond showed a clear commitment to high levels of social justice from prospective councils and not just whinging about potholes in the roads, footpaths and street lighting.

Closing the Gaps surveyed all local body candidates for three Western Bay councils on what it believes are the crucial issues affecting the region and New Zealand. And it’s sharing the results so the electorate can make considered, informed decisions when they vote for new Mayors, councilors on the Tauranga City Council, Western Bay District Council, Regional Council and District Health Board.

“We believe this is important as poverty, homelessness, affordable housing and transport issues are serious in the Western Bay of Plenty.”

While 70 per cent of Regional Council candidates responded to the equality advocate’s questions, only 42 per cent of Tauranga City Council thought the issues important enough to respond and just 37 per cent of district council candidates.

But there were upsides for Closing the Gaps. Peter Malcom was “absolutely delighted” at the overwhelming support for the ’living wage’ and the insistence that councils should lead and be proactive

It got better for Peter. He was “over the moon” that nearly 80 per cent believe income and/or wealth inequality is a problem for society, and over half believe councils have a strong role to play in doing something about it.

More than 70 per cent of candidates across the Western Bay of Plenty advocate for many more free buses and more than 60 per cent believe in free buses for all at specified times. Nearly sixty per cent of candidates believe councils should be involved in social housing. And most believe in total transparency of council staff remuneration.