The Chronicle went to the Whanganui candidates for comment on the issues of the electorate, as part of our 2014 election coverage.


The Questions
1: Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub in his book Growing Apart thinks some New Zealand regions are in real trouble. Is Whanganui one of them?
2: Is the best way to improve working Kiwis' standard of living lowering taxes or increasing wages?
3: Australia is extending its retirement age to 67 by 2023 and 70 by 2035. Shouldn't we? 4: Are you happy with the decision being made on the city's wastewater plant?
5: What's the best thing you've done this year?

Chester Borrows, National

1: No. Whanganui has a positive, growing economy that is well placed to take advantages of emerging opportunities, like our vibrant arts sector, but reliant on our established primary production and manufacturing sectors. Whanganui will continue to benefit from opportunities created by, but not dependant on, new government international trade deals.

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2: National lowered tax rates across the board to give families more money in their pockets. At the same time, we've focused on building a more competitive and productive economy. Merely raising minimum wages without a strong fiscal environment achieves nothing of substance.

3: No. Year on year growth, as predicted independently, makes us confident we can keep it at 65 because we have a comprehensive plan to build a stronger economy that enables us to give older Kiwis the support they deserve while still living within our means.

4: No, I'm not happy, given the plant was built to deal with sewerage but has been used to deal with wet industry waste. It was an untried design and Whanganui ratepayers are now paying the price for being first. Everyone is trying to hide previous involvement, but it's not good spending.

5: Introduced legislation to spread the debt and criminal liability for welfare fraud; created new rules around the reporting of suicide; sped up the courts so victims wait less time to give evidence; raised awareness of Whanganui on the international community; assisted local businesses to work internationally ... and become a grandfather!

Alan Davidson, ACT

1: Wanganui is in trouble, economically and socially. Taxes suck wealth from provincial towns. ACT's tax cuts will help Wanganui's economy. ACT's three strikes for burglars will reduce crime. ACT's education policies will help long term.

2: Raising the minimum wage squeezes marginally employable people out of the workforce; and squeezes businesses which might have employed them. Taxes squeeze wealth out of the provinces to fatten Wellington politicians. Lower taxes leave more money in the worker's pay packet; and leave more wealth in the provinces to encourage business growth, and raise wages.

3: ACT does not support a compulsory retirement age. National Super is becoming unaffordable. ACT supports slowly raising the age of entitlement to 67, with support for those who lose the ability to work before 67. An ACT economy will support this entitlement age forever.

4: No. Our city's wastewater plant is costing three times what it should; and we will still be loading "poo" on trucks and burying it in the landfill. Piping in drinkable "cow water" condensate dilutes the bacterial action. Other towns have cheap systems which work well.

5: See my younger son leave home. I will miss him, but it is good to see my grown children established in careers of their choice in New Zealand.

Hamish McDouall, Labour

1: Wanganui is being left behind as the Government funnels money to Auckland. Labour's regional development plan means working in partnership with communities to build infrastructure that will enhance the region's strengths, and to commit to tertiary education in Wanganui. We need an MP who will fight for our community.

2: Increasing wages. There are 100,000 children growing up in poverty in working households. Tax cuts put health and education services at risk, but raising wage rates allows people to participate fully in society. We work in order to live a productive happy life, not struggle week by week.

3: No. Labour believes we need to raise the retirement age only to 67, gradually over two decades allowing KiwiSaver to kick in. People who have been in physically demanding work will still be able to retire at 65. By ignoring this issue the Government is not being economically prudent.

4: Yes. It is a great shame to have to spend so much money to rectify mistakes of the past, but it shows the importance of getting quality advice and making prudent decisions. Unfortunately, the government is slashing roading subsidies so rates rises in the future are likely.

5: Giving a motivational speech to the All Whites football team was exciting, as was submitting to the local government select committee on behalf of Wanganui council, but my favourite was having a picnic in Pirongia with my family in the first school holidays. It felt infinite and happy.

Heather Marion Smith, Democrats for Social Credit

1: Wanganui is in trouble while the regional income is drained by increasing costs. Servicing council debt, increasing energy prices and business compliance costs leave little for local investment in agriculture/manufacturing. Social Credit can reverse this, using legislation like the Public Finance Act.

2: Social Credit would replace the GST with a tiny Financial Transaction ("Robin Hood") Tax which would fall mostly on the financial market dealers who were exempted from paying GST by the Lange Labour regime. This measure would immediately increase household purchasing power without setting off wage/price inflation.

3: It is quite unnecessary to raise entitlement to state superannuation. Our productivity continues to increase, largely thanks to advances in technology. Because of this, talk of a dependency ratio is utter nonsense. A viewpoint supported by Len Bayliss, former BNZ chief economist and other notable academics.

4: The new plans for wastewater should eliminate the smells, but the prospect of servicing the $25 million debt may not smell as sweet. At seven per cent interest, this debt will double during the next decade. Our submission on this year's annual plan urged the need for nil-interest credits from our Reserve Bank.

5: Wrote submissions to 65 local bodies, from Invercargill city to the Far North District. Also made personal presentations to several, on behalf of Social Credit and groups fighting to improve our railways.

Nancy Tuaine, Maori Party

1: There is a pressing issue of a declining and ageing population which will lead to skill gaps across sectors. We need to develop an integrated strategy that exposes our youth to local employment pathways early so they see local opportunities.

2: Increasing wages. We must look to produce higher-value goods and ensure we are in greater control of the value chain. We shouldn't be sending raw materials off shore - we should be producing them here and shipping finished goods.

3: The average age in Whanganui is 42 which signifies that in 20 years there will be a significant issue around the cost of retirement. We need a mix of solutions like KiwiSaver and superannuation and greater promotion of the need to be financially secure for retirement.

4: I am not happy that we have had to send all of our pollution out to sea but we needed a better solution. It was embarrassing to fly in to Whanganui and be received by the aroma of our waste. Hopefully a good, longer-term solution is found that is sustainable.

5: I assisted as part of the negotiation team in the settlement of the Whanganui River Treaty claim.