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Thursday 09 October 2008


Who will govern NZ's gay capital?

Posted in: Features, Features
By GayNZ.com - 16th September 2007

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Research suggests almost half NZ's gay men live in central Auckland - and we know there's a huge number of lovely lesbians based in the area too. So who ends up as Auckland's Mayor next month is important. We asked the candidates what their leadership will mean for our LGBT community.

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Lisa Prager
Lisa Prager

Why should LGBT voters choose you?

LGBT voters should only vote for me if they agree with my policies & vision, for more detailed info go to www.council-watch.com.
As an out and proud Mayor I will continue the work of all LGBT people in ending discrimination and encouraging diversity to flourish.
The activism of the LGBT community over the last 20 years has been an inspiration to me. The only reason I believe change can occur in our society is that I see how the LGBT community won over hearts and minds making same sex lifestyles and civil unions accepted rather then the exception.

How will you make Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

Alone I can not make Auckland a safer place but with the support of the Mayoress, Verity George, and the entire LGBT community “together, we” can influence how our city grows and develops. Failure by the city council to properly fund Gay events like the Hero Parade is a disgrace, it points to institutionalised homophobia. I want to help change the culture at Auckland City Council. I want open, transparent and accountable democratically run local government to be the foundation for a new structure at council. I want the cloak of secrecy related to how business is carried out to be lifted and I want people to feel that their vote matters, that what they say is heard and that the protection & enhancement of our public assets and amenities will strengthen everyone's civic pride. Together we could make Auckland a cleaner, healthier, safer and more enjoyable city to live in. Voting for me will help to put the “V” into vibrant, vivacious Auckland.

Auckland is home to New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

It is well known that having a large, dynamic and engaged gay community leads to an explosion of creative industries, jobs and positive growth. Gay people know how to enjoy life, we set trends and care about our surroundings. It is time that the gay community was fully engaged in the process of running this city, rather then feeling marginalised and unwanted.

Your persona is one of an aggressively activist lesbian. So as the city's “1st lesbian”, do you think you will fairly represent lesbians in Auckland?

I have had the courage to speak out on issues that affect us all and believe in standing up for human rights. I was pivotal is halting the Mayoral Coup last September, where a quango of Mayors in cahoots with the government thought they would suspend our democratic rights, halt the local body elections and divvy up the city for their own advantage. I am not afraid to challenge authority when the facts are being obscured. Human rights are very important to me so in that respect I think I am a positive role model.

 

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John Banks
John Banks

Why should GLBT voters choose you?

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender voters will share the same concerns over Auckland's poor performing council as everyone else. They will hurt over the same massive rates increases which are hard for some to budget for, they'll be disappointed at the bad financial decisions made by council, and unhappy with flipflops and weak leadership. GLBT voters should know they will get affordable progress, with a focus on core council responsibilities if they vote for me.

How would you make Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

Personal safety and security are one of my platforms for this election. I have significant interest and experience in modern policing and building safer communities. I appreciate that all citizens want communities that they can feel safe and proud of. I will deliver you a zero tolerance for graffiti and petty crimes, demand better policing resources for you from the central government, and work with the police to ensure better priorities in communities that currently face trouble.

Tell us what you did to connect with and support GLBT people during your Auckland Mayoralty?

I had, and will continue to operate a policy of treating all those who need my support with dignity and respect.

Auckland is home to New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

All communities in Auckland add flavour to our cosmopolitan nature. We're a good city to live in, but could be great. For example, I acknowledge the role the gay community has played as stakeholders, businesspeople and residents in Ponsonby. I would note that Ponsonby's strength comes from its eclectic mix, which the gay community has played a significant role in developing.

After years of anti-gay vitriol in Parliament and on talkback radio, can gay and lesbian voters now trust you to be genuinely understanding and supportive?

I have a number of people from the gay community who have told me they are supporting me, because they want affordable progress in Auckland, an end to the culture of waste. They want decisive leadership and progress on addressing Auckland's challenges. So I hope the answer is yes, I hope you will trust me with your vote to get these things done.

 

 

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Alex Swney
Alex Swney

Why should GLBT voters choose you?

Same reason as anyone would, I hope. I'm the most credible candidate, I have experience and great plans for the city. I'm passionate about Auckland, I'm inclusive rather than divisive, and I don't need to pretend to have changed to say that. We are all concerned about the same things – rates increases, the cost of water, safety to name a few but I expect there are a couple of issues that have a higher priority for the GLBT community – most notably the sense of your contribution to the city being recognised and valued. This probably has less of a monetary value and more of a spiritual value to our city… the key word here is value. It is not something that you think, but something that you feel and, at a personal level, this is something I unambiguously feel and support.

How would you make Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

I will not profess to be an expert on GLBT safety concerns but safety, and a sense of safety, is important for everyone. Improving the safety of community groups usually involves a range of agencies working together - for instance, council, police, schools, specific interest and stakeholder groups. Rather than just talk about this I would like to point you to my track record of working with these partners. I championed the introduction of 55 CCTV cameras in the CBD which has resulted in a dramatic improvement of safety in the city, particularly around the entertainment precincts. This was a project that attracted $750,000 funding from Auckland City Council and the NZ Police.

Auckland is home to New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

The gay community is famous for the energy and colour it adds to our city. But I think we all know we can do better in the way we celebrate, particularly our diversity. Events are a cornerstone to alive and vibrant cities and the current $1.3 million events budget is frankly pitiful. An average $35,000 per event certainly doesn't say much about a city that wants to have some fun. Recognising the importance of events, social and economic, I would support a much greater commitment to this budget and surely we could find some way to bring back a parade that celebrates this diversity - be it a Mardi Gras or a Hero Parade. But one thing's for sure it would need to involve the GLBT community.

As far as we are aware, you have never made any public stance about gays and lesbians. Now's your chance to tell us what you think.

I don't want to single the GLBT community out in particular as the way I see it – we're all in this together. Don't we all want Auckland to be the best city it can be? GLBTs may feel that they have been under-represented and possibly unappreciated, but believe me – I want to have this community represented at the table when I'm Mayor.

 

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Steve Crow
Steve Crow

Why should GLBT voters choose you?

If GLBT voters want a mayor who is truly open minded, in favour or same sex marriages and comfortable with all expressions of human sexuality involving consenting adults then I sincerely doubt they have any other viable alternative.

How would you make Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

I would encourage and support any and all events that celebrate all the various adult lifestyles, without favour to any. I am all about equality and freedom of personal choice and expression and I would expect GLBT people to be treated with exactly the same respect as any other citizens. Law and order is sadly lacking in Auckland City, which can be an unsafe place for anyone, not just GLBT people. Once of my platforms is to expand and integrate the surveillance cameras operating throughout the city to facilitate police to identify and target problems before they escalate.

Auckland has New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

It adds cultural diversity and colour to the city.

Your recent Boobs on Bikes parade and Erotica Expo once again found a strong audience of Aucklanders. But how comfortable are you with visible expressions of LGBT sexuality?

Totally. As mentioned above I am comfortable with all expressions of human sexuality involving consenting adults.

 

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Dick Hubbard
Dick Hubbard

Why should GLBT voters choose you?

It is true to say I knew very little about your community when I became Mayor of this city. But I have made an effort to link up closely with the gay community since I came into office. I've attended all 3 of the Big Gay Out days at Coyle Park. I hosted the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill at the Town Hall last year. I've attended many meetings with the gay community. I'm a listening mayor. I'm a mayor who knows just how important the gay community is to this city.

Also, Auckland needs stability and continuity. We have had more one term Mayors in Auckland than any other city in New Zealand.

How are you making Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

I've talked a lot about the need for tolerance and respect for all communities.
I've been pushing for a safer city through continuing our programme of more CTV cameras in the CBD. We instituted the Mayoral Safety Awards which publicly recognises those who are helping out with safety initiatives and programmes in the city. We are including safety as an important part of all of our urban design planning. That includes good lighting and a better layout of public spaces. I've worked with the Police on addressing hot spots. We're also hitting graffiti hard and are having some success at catching offenders and with education programmes in schools.

Tell us what you've done to connect with and support GLBT people during your Mayoralty so far?

Attended Big Gay Out for past 3 years, hosted function at the Town Hall last year, attended meetings for example unveiling of annual plan to gay community etc. I've worked closely with gay community board members Lindsey Rea, Bruce Kilmister, Leigh Kenneway, and Christopher Dempsey during the past 3 years. I've kept up to date with gay issues through reading publications and listening to radio.

Auckland is home to New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

The gay community add a huge amount to our city. There are many gay people who work in the creative industries here and the creative industries contribute above their weight in the economy of the city. Economically you are a huge contributor. In short, dollar for dollar the pink dollar is worth more than the standard dollar to Auckland City. But of course it's not just about money. The gay community adds vitality, colour, passion and vibrancy to our city.

At the start of your Mayoralty, your involvement with the John Sax letter against the Civil Union Bill sparked outrage. How have you and your attitudes changed since then?

During the debate I signed a letter asking that in this bill the rights of children be protected. This was never intended to be 'anti' the Bill. I never expected it to be on the front page of the Herald the next day. You learn and you learn fast in this job! I think the Civil Union Bill has been a great success - the Prophets of doom have been proved wrong.

 

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Dr. John Hinchcliff
Dr. John Hinchcliff

Why should GLBT voters choose you?

Rather than political promises on the campaign trial I would suggest my track record states clearly my commitments.

During my twenty years experience as head of ATI-AIT-AUT University, I sought to empower colleagues to be who they could be. Differences of culture, religion, colour, sexual or academic preference were acknowledged and affirmed as being of personal significance to individual staff and students but of no consequences to their position and well-being within the institution.

My approach to LGBT colleagues was not as some patronising or tolerant tokenism but based on a genuine respect for each person whether staff or student.

I have always argued that, instead of the institution being a “melting pot” where difference disappears, we should prefer the “tossed salad” approach where differences added vitality to the whole.

The culture of interpersonal respect has resulted in a high rate of retention of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender staff and students and the reputation of our learning institution as being LGBT-friendly.

How would you make Auckland City a safer place for GLBT people?

We need to ensure the Council continues to support the group representing the LGBT community established by the Partnerships Committee which I chair. We need to ensure the Auckland City Council brand is clearly attached to significant events such as the Outtakes Festival and Heroic Gardens. The various activities such as Bowling, Team Auckland Masters Swimmers, Gay Rugby Club, 5th Season Gardening Club, MCC Gay Church and the Wigs on the Waterfront and Cartier Bereavement Charitable Trust should be listed and badged as Auckland City activities.

Auckland has New Zealand's largest gay community. What advantages do you believe this adds to the city?

Professor Derrida and other commentators have argued that a city with a strong gay community is more creative and, as a consequence, more successful. Creativity occurs when we think differently from the tribe. For this we need confidence, self assurance and security. Then there is the value of the “pink dollar”.

As far as we are aware, you have never made any public stance about gays and lesbians. Now's your chance to tell us what you think.

My hierarchy of values has always been dominated by the primary value to respect people and by the ethical commitment to “do no harm”. I will continue to encourage people to find their meaning and be themselves. I wish your community well and hope the process of being liberated from hateful prejudice will be fulfilled tomorrow.

 

Voting in Local Elections around New Zealand opens on 13th September and closes at noon on 13th October. Anyone who is enrolled to vote by the day before election day (Friday 12th October) can vote for their local council member and mayor. More information on how to enrol and vote is available on the link below.


GayNZ.com - 16th September 2007