Think Global, Act Local Government

You may ask if it really matters who you vote for in your town or district when the world faces huge challenges like climate change and rising sea levels.
But those who work in local government say the decisions made by councils can make a "massive" difference.


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Waikato Regional Council delegate, Deb Hardwicke

Waikato Regional Council delegate Deb Hardwicke says climate change should be uppermost in our minds when it comes to voting in these elections.

“In my own view, a lot of people standing for council have vested interests, they don’t want people to look too deeply into intensive dairying and forestry.

“But climate change denial is unacceptable, so I challenge those of you who don’t vote to find out about the issues and the candidates, and make an informed choice.”

Christchurch City Council delegate Paul Cottam says the declaration of climate change emergencies by a number of councils including Christchurch is a great step.
“It’s symbolic, but it also generates debate and signals the need for strategic planning.”


Encouraging the expansion of public transport to combat climate change is one of the PSA’s key issues for these elections.

Our local government delegates see the importance of this - welcoming investment in infrastructure like the rail link between Hamilton and Auckland.

Conversely Paul Cottam says we need to “break out of the shackles of 20th century planning” that produced
a new northern motorway which brings single occupant vehicles into Christchurch.

Paul says growing support for the city’s cycleways shows public opinion is turning in favour of more environmentally-friendly alternatives.


Local Government is also at the heart of efforts to improve the safety and management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater through the Three Waters Review.

For Paul managing the increased flood risk posed by rising groundwater levels in eastern Christchurch post-earthquakes is a priority.

Meanwhile, Deb questions the wisdom of considering consents to bottle and export fresh water from locations including Blue Springs near her home town of Putaruru.

The PSA strongly favours keeping water in public ownership, rather than letting it fall into the hands of private companies who could charge us more for a taonga that is fundamental to our survival.


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Christchurch City Council delegate Paul Cottam and his grandson Rylan

While councils must put their responsibilities as kaitiaki of the environment at the forefront of their planning, Paul says it is important people aren’t left behind in the transition.

“While the redevelopment of the red zone in Christchurch gives us the opportunity to plan for climate change, we also need to ensure there is affordable housing, and that people are treated fairly and equitably,” he says.

Giving people opportunities to access training, and move into sustainable jobs with decent wages and conditions is another important aspect of the just transitions approach.

“When you’re questioning candidates, ask them what their response to climate change would be at a local level. We want people who favour a collective community-wide response.”

Also in this issue:

Vote 2019 NZ!

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