Election 2014: Candidates try to woo elderly

By Imran Ali

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ON SHOW: National candidate Dr Shane Reti (left), Green's Paul Doherty, Kelly Ellis of Labour and Pita Paraone of New Zealand First at yesterday's meeting at Radius Potter Home in Whangarei. PHOTOS/JOHN STONE
ON SHOW: National candidate Dr Shane Reti (left), Green's Paul Doherty, Kelly Ellis of Labour and Pita Paraone of New Zealand First at yesterday's meeting at Radius Potter Home in Whangarei. PHOTOS/JOHN STONE

Nonagenarian William Martin is looking forward to this year's general election with the same enthusiasm as in the late 1930s when he first voted as a sprightly 18-year-old.

The now resident of Radius Potter Home in Whangarei has never missed voting since becoming eligible although he reckons a lot has changed since he first ticked the ballot papers.

The 94-year-old was among about 60 senior citizens of rest homes from throughout Northland who were invited to hear Whangarei election candidates Dr Shane Reti representing National, Kelly Ellis of Labour, Pita Paraone of New Zealand First and the Green Party's Paul Doherty speak at the home yesterday.

William Martin has never missed voting since he turned 18.
William Martin has never missed voting since he turned 18.

Born in Te Kopuru, Mr Martin has voted for National all his life and said the greed for power these days was a blight to peaceful co-existence between the different races.

"We never went to political meetings in those days because they didn't have them like they do now. A lot has changed since then but I still want to know what they (politicians) are doing," he said.

He believes the Treaty of Waitangi should be wiped because all it leads to is in-fighting among Maori jostling for power.

Politicians of old, he said, were more "bright" and to some extent more trustworthy than those today, who were more concerned about themselves than those they represented.

At the candidates' meeting, each party nominee was given 10 minutes to highlight their policies before fielding questions from the floor. A rise in the minimum wage featured prominently.

Ms Ellis called on the capital gains' tax to be introduced and said Whangarei was turning into a "zombie town" with limited job opportunities and low wages.

Dr Reti defended moves against a rise in minimum wages, saying job losses would become inevitable as businesses would struggle to cope with increased costs. A stable government with a sound fiscal policy was needed to boost Northland's economy, he said.

Mr Doherty highlighted the Trans-Tasman Partnership agreement being discussed behind closed doors, the GCSB issue and asset sales as proof that the National government hadn't been transparent and trustworthy.

Mr Paraone said National didn't want a minimum wage rise but was happy to bail out South Canterbury Finance with millions of taxpayers' money.

The reason for selling state assets changed from reducing debt to improving infrastructure, he said.

- Northern Advocate

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