Keep Our Assets Canterbury has endorsed me to stand for the Christchurch mayoralty in the coming local body election.
I got 15% of the vote last time which was pleasing after being in the city for just 18 months. For this coming campaign we are focusing on the three big issues facing Christchurch:
We have decided to stand John because Christchurch faces unprecedented challenges:
- Global warming from greenhouse gas emissions has created a climate catastrophe which threatens us all.
- Our precious drinking water is tainted with contaminants and threatened by nitrates.
- Deep divisions across the city mean many people struggle on poverty incomes without dignity or self-respect. Housing conditions and social impacts for many are as bad as the 1930s depression.
Our current path does not make sense – it’s not working for us.
The current mayor and councillors should be on the back foot after some awful behaviour. Here are a few examples:
- The council has declared a climate emergency but is continuing business as usual
- The mayor and councilors decided to pay the new CEO $100,000 more than the starting salary of the previous CEO and when the public objected the mayor ordering councilors to not speak publicly about the issue! It was not only an attack on ratepayer wallets but an attack on democracy itself
- Meanwhile the council is refusing to pay the living wage to people employed by Council controlled companies or contracted staff doing council work. Inexcusable.
- Many council tenants are living in slum conditions in cold damp homes while the mayor and council priorities are to build a multi-purpose rugby stadium. Under Minto for Mayor there will be no new rugby stadium till every child in Christchurch has a warm, dry home to live in.
- The council has refused to allow Christchurch residents to have a say in how the $300 million grant promised by the government at the last election will be spent despite the government saying it was for the people of Christchurch to decide. The council instead has lined up with corporate interests and $220 million of the grant is to be spent on a new stadium!
- Christchurch residents face massive rate increases well beyond inflation – last year around three times the rate of inflation.
- We have a water crisis in the making but no leadership for change.
Here is the set of progressive policies to meet the big three problems the city faces:
- Dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions with free and frequent public transport – the single most important way for Christchurch to address our climate crisis. A person switching from a car to a full bus reduces their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 times what it would be in their car. For low income earners it is the equivalent of four weeks extra pay each year. It will save money and be paid for from the current roading budget.
- Future-proof our water supply and clean up our waterways – plan, lobby and work for swimmable rivers in Christchurch and across Canterbury. One part of this is promoting local neighbourhood responsibility for sections of our city rivers.
- Affordable housing – use $220 million from the government’s $300 million grant to rebuild the 400 council rental houses destroyed in the earthquakes and refurbish the “slum” housing currently owned by council. We will also begin to build a further 600 additional homes to meet the needs of our local community. This will mean putting the multi-purpose rugby stadium to the back of the queue for capital spending.
- Higher wages – pay the living wage for all council work. We will pay a minimum of the living wage ($21.15 per hour from 1 September) to council employees and those employed under contract to do council work. At the same time, we will set the maximum council salary $176,000 – four times the living wage. This policy will save money over time as we manage down senior management salaries at the council. The council will lead the way for other employers to follow.
- Keep rate increases to the rate of inflation – and rebalance rates across the city to make rate payments fairer.
- Reject proposals for the sale of our city assets and look for opportunities to bring strategic assets back under community ownership and control. This will save money and help reduce future rate increases.
- Create a local zone in the city centre to showcase products and services created here in Canterbury – to be paid for initially from higher rates on undeveloped land in the city centre. This is the way of a climate-changed future – local production for local consumption.