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It's back to school for Auckland's Councillors as youth organization Generation Zero grade the election candidates. Believing climate change is the significant challenge this generation faces, Gen Zero sees the local body elections as a chance to elect leaders who can steer New Zealand towards a low carbon future.
Gen Zero has identified a lack of accessible information for voters and is striving to increase voter awareness, providing voters with information in the form of scorecards on how each candidate stands on local issues in Auckland City.
Releasing candidate scorecards to the public at a press conference on 25th September, Gen Zero analysed candidate responses to questions which align with their vision.
Gen Zero spokesperson, Dr. Sudhvir Singh, explains: "We've interviewed candidates on key issues young people are passionate about across Auckland, including public transport, the Congestion Free network, the Unitary Plan, cycling and climate change.
We've interviewed and graded thirty candidates."
Top of the class and scoring an overall A+ grade are Deputy Mayor of Auckland, Penny Hulse and Christine Rose from the Waitakere electorate. Hulse and Rose strongly support public transport investment and the Congestion Free network. Hulse is wary of building more motorway projects claiming they are "redundant infrastructure."
Also scoring in the A band are five other candidates including Auckland City Mayor Len Brown. The other four are Mike Lee from Waitemata, Richard Northey from Maungakiekie-Tamaki, Cathy Casey from Albert/Eden/Roskill, and Chris Darby from North Shore.
Says Dr. Singh: "Candidates with high scores represent a clear match with our vision for a congestion-free network, a range of housing options, and more active transport options."
But Penny Wright, a mayoral candidate, scored at the bottom of the class. Her E grade was based on her opposed view to intensification and the fact she disagrees climate change is a man made issue.
Patrick Reynolds of Auckland Transport, a guest speaker at Gen Zero's conference criticises current government funding as road heavy and serving the car industry. Reynolds says this encourages journeys in private vehicles.
The proposed Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) outlines future government plans for spending from 2012-2041 with 22,787 million to be spent on road projects and 8,475 million to be spent on public transport projects.
Gen Zero has created the Congestion Free Network as an alternative to the ITP, in association with the Auckland Transport Blog. The network would provide a genuine low carbon transport option for Aucklanders giving them the freedom to choose between taking their cars and using an efficient public transport system. The network's aim is to be a high frequency public transport service providing a dedicated infrastructure of rail, buses and ferries, with a turn up and go rate of ten minutes or less.
Barbara Cuthbert, Chair of Cycle Action Auckland also spoke at the Gen Zero conference:
"81% of Aucklanders surveyed support the SkyPath plan for the Harbour Bridge to be 50% complete by 2016. Surveys have also shown more people would consider cycling if there were safer options. We need to develop more suburban green ways, to encourage more people to cycle by providing safer cycling routes," says Cuthbert.
The SkyPath proposal will give Aucklanders an attractive, sheltered and secure pathway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge providing a critical missing link for Auckland cyclists and walkers, as well as offering an exciting attraction for tourists and visitors.
Says Dr Singh, "Auckland council makes important long-term decisions on areas such as transport and urban planning which have long-term implications for carbon pollution in our largest city. Young people are the inheritors of humanity's response to climate change and we need to respond by being proactive about informing voters."
The full results of the scorecards can be found on Generation Zero's website.
Who do I vote for?
Here's another useful resource for voters in Auckland - this one is about Get Auckland Moving and candidates views on making car pooling a feasible option http://bit.ly/16MY91x.