Introduction

Greetings from Amsterdam. A couple of issues relating to Auckland’s local government elections have exercised my mind of late, specifically:

  • Candidates for councillor in the Waitemata ward; and
  • Why I voted Chlöe Swarbrick for Mayor of Auckland.

Before I get started, I’d like to make a simple statement about democracy.

The refrain “democracy is not a spectator sport” rings true to me for several reasons. The first is that my grandmother used to regale me with stories about how her grandmother would walk to work past Parliament’s gates, where women protesting for the right to vote would be chained. Every election, my grandmother would then ask me questions about politics, and emphasize the importance of voting. Her favourite line was “I don’t care who you vote for, just so long as you vote.”

The second reason is that I think effective democracy is an important determinant of long-run socio-economic success. You only have to look at the sorts of situations currently playing out in the U.K., U.S., and elsewhere to get a feel for what happens when people don’t pay attention to democracy. In particular, when a large proportion of the electorate is uninformed and/or disengaged and/or disenfranchised, then democracy tends to come back and bite society on its ass.

Now, before I get into the details of who I voted for, I feel compelled to summarize my own values – just so y’all know where I’m coming from. I’m not expecting others to share these values, of course, but it may help you understand some of the driving forces behind my voting decisions. I also think this is useful because my values don’t fit neatly into a left-right spectrum, but are instead something of a hybrid:

  • I am socially liberal, insofar as I think people should be free to choose how to live their lives, unless there’s good reasons for society to intervene;
  • I am moderately fiscally conservative, because I am aware that debt needs to be re-paid by future generations; the same generations who are facing the twin challenges of an ageing population and climate change. For these reasons, want to ensure we only incur debt to invest in things that will benefit future generations; and
  • I have a strongly-honed sense of justice, and want to live in a society where vulnerable people are cared for. That includes future generations.

In terms of local government, my top two priorities – in order of importance – are 1) housing and 2) transport. With regards to the former, I would like to see fewer restrictions on density, so that Auckland can intensify. While I appreciate “quality urban development”, I’m not prepared to sacrifice housing affordability at the altar of aesthetic values. Let’s build a lot of houses and figure out how to do it better as we go. As for transport, I would like to see funding prioritized to projects that are 1) strategic, in the sense they support policy objectives like sustainability and equity and 2) efficient, in the sense their economic benefits exceed their economic costs.

Finally, I should say that this post is not intended to encourage you to vote for anyone in particular, but simply to explain the thought process I myself went through in determining who I would vote for. And to stimulate debate. Onwards.

Waitemata: Where men people vie for our affections

Three men people are standing for councillor in Waitemata: Mike Lee, Bill Ralston, and Rob Thomas. I voted for the latter, such that most of what follows should be read as an explanation of “why” Rob appealed compared to the others.

I evaluate Mike positions in some detail, largely because I have voted for him in previous elections. My democratic divorce from Mike has been rather slow, but was nonetheless difficult. Reason being that Mike has achieved a lot of great things, e.g. advocating for investment in rail and changes to PT contracting. Ultimately, however, I’ve become increasingly disatisfied with his positions on housing, which has in turn become a more important driver of my vote – as I now explain.

If you go to Mike’s website and click “What Mike stands for“, then you will find the following bullet points (source):

  • Make sure the people of the inner city suburbs and Hauraki Gulf islands have a strong voice at the top table
  • Protect our environment and enhance our quality of life
  • Invest in the public transport Auckland needs
  • Keep Supercity costs and rates under control
  • Protect our unique heritage and encourage quality urban development
  • Support Auckland’s thriving arts and entertainment scene

No mention is made of “housing”, which I thought was odd (NB: .“… encourage quality urban development” is too vague for my liking, as it puts “quality” ahead of “development” and is not specific about the need for housing in particular). I thought this was odd not just because I think housing is important, but also because other parts of Mike’s web-site mention the “housing crisis”. It seems odd Mike would speak of a housing crisis, yet not identify housing as a key issue under what he stands for.

Turning now to transport, one of Mike’s bullet points does mention “Invest in the public transport Auckland needs“. On the surface, this sounds promising. So I dug a bit further, and did a key word search of Mike’s website by transport mode. First I started with “rail”, which highlighted the following issues (n=47):

  • Rail to the airport, where Mike appears to support a heavy rail option; and
  • Parnell Station; which Mike wants accelerated.

I support long-term planning for public transport to the airport, even if I don’t feel too strongly about technologies. I also support a station at Parnell, provided it’s 1) in the right location, 2) supported by up-zoning of land use activities; and 3) does not negatively impact on rail operations. While I suspect the issue of Parnell Station is more complicated than Mike makes out, this is only a minor quibble – provided he acknowledges the technical complexities involved. Indeed, train stations, like people, “are complicated creatures full of quirks and secrets“. To borrow a line from the fantastic Mr Dahl.

A key word search for “buses” returned n=6 hits, all of which involved Mike saying buses were horrible compared to trains. This was disappointing given the current and future importance of buses to many people who live in Waitemata, including myself. I personally would like to see a number of small and large bus improvements being accelerated, such as the hours of operation for bus lanes on Mt Eden Road, and was disappointed Mike didn’t advocate for bus improvements more strongly.

A keyword search for “cycling” returned zero hits, while “walking” returned only two hits – both of which involved Mike referring to instances where he was walking, rather than the need for investment in pedestrian facilities per se. Again I was disappointed, because investment in walking and cycling is good in-of-itself, and complements public transport.

Basically, the over-arching impression is that Mike likes trains, and doesn’t have much time or passion for other transport modes. As someone who walks and cycles as a first preference, and who uses public transport in general before thinking about modes in particular, this doesn’t pass grade.

Turning now to Bill Ralston, I searched his website but couldn’t find much mention of housing. That essentially ruled him out of contention for my vote. In his transport policy, Bill argues we need to fix traffic congestion because it costs us $1.8 – 2.0 billion p.a. This figure is bogus: The costs are closer to $500 million p.a., as explained in this NZTA research report by Ian Wallis. To his credit – and in contrast to Mike – Bill does express support for buses and cycling (source):

More bus-ways – the Shore’s Northern Bus-way shows how well that can work, more bus-lanes, phased lights for buses, bike lanes and bike paths and while the CRL is not the silver bullet to solve the city’s transport issues – it will help. Get on with it.

All up I found Bill’s policies too light on detail. And, like Mike Lee, there were a few too many “grumpy man” statements. I don’t have a problem with grumpy old men per se, provided their gruffness is self-effacing and humorously applied. Like these guys.

Finally, we turn to the person who ultimately won my vote: Rob Thomas. Initially I didn’t expect to even consider Rob. I was, however, impressed by Rob’s statement in the candidate booklet, and even more impressed when I went to his website. There, he makes prominent mention of climate change upfront (source):

Climate Change is the biggest issue facing Auckland and our planet today. Temperature increases, sea level rise and the acidification of our oceans are just some of the issues that will impact Auckland over the next 50-100 years.

I agree. And while I’d like to see more central government leadership on the issue of climate change, I think it’s important that its strategic significance is also embodied in policies at the local government level.

In terms of housing, Rob was – from what I could tell – the only candidate to state explicitly on their website the need to “Build more homes in Auckland“. While light on details, the high-level sentiment is at least there – and that won him bonus points, especially when compared to the other candidates. On the transport side, Rob’s website mentioned the need for better public transport and cycling.

In a nutshell, I voted for Rob because his priorities aligned most closely with my own. If I hadn’t voted for Rob, then Mike would have been in second-place, and Bill in third.

Chlöe for Mayor

I voted for Chlöe for Mayor for two reasons. One is that she is passionate about democracy itself, which is extremely important to me. And I don’t mean “passion for democracy” in an airy-fairy, hand-wavy sense; I mean Chlöe seems keen to engage people with the nitty-gritty, gnarly issues that frequently arise in local government, and which ultimately have a significant influence on our quality of life, as discussed in this video.

The second reason I voted for Chlöe was because of her policies. The preamble to her housing policy, for example, reads as follows (source):

Auckland is in the midst of a housing crisis. The median property price is now ten times the median income. So too are rents rising, and our population of homeless and rough sleepers increasing. Reports of families sleeping in cars or garages are not uncommon, and have broken international news. Young families are unlikely to be able to realistically aspire to own a home in this market.

In this TVNZ interview, Chlöe makes it clear that she’s talking about bringing down property prices, which she considers to be a point of distinction from the other candidates, and something that is important to me. I’d like to see a 20-30% decline in property prices over the next 10 years, which basically means holding them constant in nominal terms and letting inflation eat away at the real value. Achieving such an outcome will require that we change expectations about future capital gains, which is where explicit statements – like Chlöe’s – about the need to reduce property values can be rather useful.

The preamble to Chlöe’s transport policy is similarly direct (source):

There is a lot of money ($1.4billion in 2015 alone) spent on transport in Auckland. But we’re not seeing that cost reflected in choice.

Choice is the freedom to choose how you, as the people of Auckland, navigate our city. Currently, many parts of our city are automobile-dependent, because the alternative options (public transport, cycling, or walking) are impracticable or inaccessible.

This lack of choice forces more people onto our roads at an exponential rate, as 800 new cars are registered for Auckland roads each week. More blind investment in roading projects at the expense of alternative transport results only in more cars to fill up those new, wider, shiny roads. This is why, in our 2013 Census, we saw that 74% of Auckland drove to work in their own private cars (70% driving by themselves).

To see our roads function properly, we need to invest in projects to get people – especially those people who don’t actually want to be there – off of those roads.

As your Mayor, I will advocate for a bold shift in focus: I will see that Auckland’s public transport system is a real, viable, and efficient option to get where you’re going. I will see Auckland thrive by becoming walkable, and cycleable.

Righto. If you read further down the page then you’ll find some explicit mention of the sorts of public transport (rail and bus) and walking/cycling improvements that Chlöe would like to prioritize. Generally mode-neutral, and focused on improving the effectiveness of our transport spend, rather than just increasing the spend itself. This subtle emphasis is important to me.

If you don’t know who Chlöe is and what she’s about in general, then I’d also suggest watching this video, which I think gives good insight into where she’s coming from and also some inner mettle.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t vote for Phil Goff. I must say that Phil ran a very close second. I thought Phil had excellent policies on housing affordability, for example, and his transport policies were also nicely balanced. Phil even mentions GPS-based road pricing, which many of you will know is close to my heart. If we had an STV voting system, then Phil Goff would have received my second ranking.

The main reason I didn’t vote for Phil Goff is simply because when I am relatively indifferent between two candidates, then I tend to vote for the candidate that brings more diversity to the table. In this case, Chlöe wins out. Notwithstanding my own vote for Chlöe, I wouldn’t be disappointed if Phil was to win.

Conclusions

There you have it. Even if you don’t agree, please just take the time to vote. And encourage your friends and family to do the same. I suspect low voter turn-out in local government elections is something that can only be addressed through a combination of electoral reform (online voting, ditching FPP for STV) and cultural change. Addressing the latter really begins by acknowledging that we have a problem, and starting a conversation about how it might be fixed.

Finally, some of you may be wondering what I do when I’m not pondering how to exercise my democratic right. The answer, my friends, is that I’m cycling around Amsterdam. Safely. And with an emergency potato in my pants. Tot ziens.

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119 comments

  1. If Chloe was serious in her endeavours why didn’t she stand for a Local Board or Council as well as Mayor & at least learn the ropes.

    1. Why does she need to do that to be serious? John Key didn’t spend a few years as a minor minister before taking up the Prime Ministership for example…

      1. The problem with National is not Keys lack of apprenticeship for the PM job – its his henchmens like Joyce and Brownlees lack of it thats more concerning hence the RoNS and CERA stuff ups we will be collectively suffering from for many years to come.

        As for Goff and Crone I’d be more worried about Crone over Goffs lack of local Government experience. Goff is a local MP he knows the levers of power, and how they work and how local and central government need to interoperate.

        Crone knows nothing of this, and like Trump, plays being the outsider as a major strength, when its not one at all.
        she treats every issue like its a business problem and that people are rational or can be talked around by rational argument.
        The existence of RoNS and the faith in the market as the best provider of everything show the fallacy of that belief.

        But even more crucially If the new Mayor can’t relate to central Government, the rest of the Auckland council elected officials (both councillors and boards) – they will, become a “lame duck mayor”. in short order

        Brown knew this, even if he did not practise it as well as he should have. And sometimes he compromised more than he ought to have. But he was pragmatic too like Key is claimed to be.

        So if he traded the Holiday Highway for CRL its probably going to be a good trade longer term. We have no options to CRL, we can repurpose or alter the HH .
        I can’t work out if Brown traded tacit agreement to a super fast tracked East-West as well though and if he did that is a bad outcome we can’t easily undo.

        For me Goff is the safe pair of hands we need right now, to give breathing space for Chloe and her generation to get themselves into power and then take over.

        We need more Chloe’s, I would have voted for her if I had two votes, but we need Goff right now more than we need a Crone, so for now, thats the way the vote goes.

        Next time, Goff won’t have my vote automatically – he’ll have to earn it like any mayor and councillor should

        Crone will be a “none hit wonder”, once she loses she will move onto other things and won’t look back, she may end up in Central Government.
        But she needs “a lot of learnin” to happen before then based on her spoutings so far.

        To sum it up, Crone is “part of the problem set”, Goff is at the “intersection of the Problem and Solution Sets”, and Chloe has yet to actually get into either set.

      2. I think Myles’ basic point is a good one, but it’s not about being serious, it’s about being realistic. Mai Chen edited a book about the establishment of the Auckland Council (Transforming Auckland : the creation of Auckland Council, get it from your local library), in it several writers noted that the new council is an entity about as large as Fonterra, NZ’s biggest company. Whether a 22 year old is prepared to take over the reigns of an organisation this size is a reasonable question.

        What is without doubt however, is that Chloe would make a substantial contribution to progressing Auckland as a councillor, while learning the ropes of local government at the same time. If she had stood for council in my area I would have voted for her.

        But Stu’s core point about the lack of diversity amongst candidates is bang on, we have a substantial Chinese population and not one put themselves forward. The Kaipatiki Ward did have a good gender mix and I did vote for a woman who arrived in NZ as a refugee from Kuwait. The electorates response to her will be interesting.

  2. Danger is, vote Chloe, get Vic.

    A Crone administration would be a disaster that must be avoided at all costs. Voting Goff is the only safe choice

    1. Good question. I suspect you’d also need to ask Crone and Goff whether they are serious in their endeavours too. Neither has held any local government positions and yet they are both only standing for Mayor.

      1. We have FPP because Auckland Council voted to continue to use it a while back.

        Its lot more complicated to use something like STV (which itself sounds more like a STI than a voting system).

        Especially judging by the mess of choices on the District Health Board which does use STV,.
        I think most people faced with ranking 18+ candidates for mayor would not bother to vote at all (or, at best – tick only one candidate as their preference – and end up with an informal vote as a result).

        So it pays to be careful what voting system you ask for – as It may come true.

          1. I know that, but most don’t, and more to the point, you can’t just tick one candidate, you have to put a “1” in the box beside their name to count.

          2. Two comments:
            – Writing a “1” seems easier than a “tick”?
            – There’s no reason why you couldn’t define the rules of an STV system such that anyone who inserted just one tick would count as their first preference.

            Basically, I think objecting to STV on such grounds is somewhat … spurious.

        1. STV for the Auckland District Health Board does make it hard but as some specified above that you can rank as many or as few as desired. As there are seven representatives, I chose just seven. All seven were City Vision candidates ranked youngest to oldest.

    2. I like the “bus” search for sorting the trainspotters from the genuine PT advocates. Nice hack.

      Edit: Was supposed to be a comment not response.

    3. Really depends on how you view the race. Personlly, based on polls and “talk about town” i get the impression that it’s actually a race between Goff and Chlöe. So i chose the latter.

      But yes, i am hoping crone doesn’t come through the middle. If you think that’s a risk, then voting goff would make sense too.

      1. This does not match my observations on social media. Whenever I see a sponsored post come up on my facebook timeline from Goff, a lot of the comments are along the lines of how he’s a leftie bastard, same as Len etc. Whereas the far more numerous posts from Crone seem to have 90% positive comments, lots of 1 line “You’ve got my vote” by people who look like everyday soccer-mums (i.e. generic middle class) – i.e. those who might not normally bother voting.

        Her sales pitch of being good in business and sorting out the council is a strong one, given how the NZ Herald constant prints opinion pieces about how the council is wasting money, not building more roads etc.

        I strongly agree with those on here who say that a vote for Chlöe is a vote for Crone. As far as transport goes, I have only heard Crone support buses for public transport. She doesn’t seem to support CRL or light rail. If she gets in she has a strong mandate to lower spending and to build a 2nd harbour crossing. Surely putting the CRL on hold will be one of her first priorities to try and achieve that goal? Seems like a very dangerous game to me.

        1. Vic definitely engages with facebook users more than Phil Goff, but many of her promises don’t come with solutions. For instance, a recent post on facebook T2/T3 lanes which drew hundreds of comments. The general consensus implied that these lanes should be abolished and converted back to normal vehicle lanes although commonsense would suggest the complete opposite.

          She has made numerous calls to fix up Lake Road in Devonport, again no specifics (mostly likely to remove bus or bike lanes and convert them to car lanes). And even more astoundingly a pledge of $150million for the AWHC, with definite support for road but PT only with a ‘business case’ (and she has denied the CRL business case on a number of occasions). However she does support a North-Western busway and Papakura-Pukekohe rail extension, as do other candidates.

          If she wins, it will not be a victory on policy but more as promoting herself as ‘not a career politician’ and as a ‘proven leader’.

          1. Totally agree. She may not be a career politician, but she has already worked out that is is promises and ideas which will give her the most votes – not boring workable policies with logic behind them.

            I think she is more dangerous than many on this blog give her credit for and their promotion of Chloe could accidentally help hand Crone victory.

      2. That’s the danger of the social media echo and self referencing groups.

        There is no prospects of Chloe even cracking 10%, frankly I’d be stunned if she got to 5.

        In a FPP election, every vote for her helps Crone.

        STV would be a better system, but we need to deal with what we have

        1. Is it really a good idea?

          Do we want Auckland’s green spaces bulldozed to make way for tarmac and apartments, in a city where the existing zones for housing are already under-developed? No thanks from me, I’d sooner press ahead with the unitary plan, let density increase, and give long-term protection to our precious green spaces for all to use now and in the future.

          Chloe’s views on democratizing Auckland might apply here. Too often we see local residents being bullied by remote government agencies with agendas. The East-West link is an awful example of the damage this can do, and so is Goff’s plan to sell off public golf courses for private use. I’d like to see local board sign-off required on any change that damages the natural environment as much as these two proposals do, with informed consultation being mandatory in each case. A lot of Aucklanders are feeling disengaged from decision-making, and the trend seems to be that that local government is becoming as remote and inaccessible as Wellington.

          1. in my opinion, yes selling and/or developing golf courses is a good policy. Especially Takapuna Golf Course.

          2. Auckland does need more and better open public space. City golf courses, especially the publicly owned and subsidised ones offer a clear opportunity to improve the supply and quality of public space, and in that they have performed a useful role in holding this land in a relatively undeveloped state as the city grew past them. Remember they used to be cheap and marginal land on the edge of town. But now their status demands review. And certainly partial intensive development in order to fund improvement of the resulting public space is an option, as is retaining the entire area as park and recreation. These need to be analysed on a case by case basis. Chamberlain, for example clearly needs opening up to more people and uses.

            Urban golf courses are not good open space in that they are not open for a sufficient variety of uses or a sufficient number of people. In general my personal preference would be to intensify the surrounding land use more and keep them as public space, though not for golf in most cases as this is a very poor intensity of public space use. We have been pretty poor at making quality urban public space since the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the last generation focussed much more on big ex-urban regional parks, which we should be extremely grateful for, and we must continue to work to protect and enhance [especially the Gulf], but now our attention needs to return inwards to improve the quality of the urban public realm. Especially our streets, but also all public open space, including this semi-privatised resource.

          3. Golf courses are enormous, you could easily develop half of one and still have a big urban park.

            I find you comment about local input a bit contradictory, as it is exactly this local input that is stopping intensification of existing residential areas.

          4. Exactly, at around 50 hectares for one golf course they are the size of about 50 rectangular fields (rubgy, soccer, hockey etc). So you could easily make two thirds of the area into a new town centre with housing and employment, and still have room for a park the size of ten or fifteen rugby fields.

          5. Still harping on about Golf Courses. When ANY green space is gone, built over, it is gone forever. If you are so obsessed about being anti golf courses, let’s call it land banking for a healthy city future. If you sell it out just to house endless population increases you achieve nothing. Maybe the New York mayor could sell Central Park, make a fortune from that……once only though, then its gone forever. You guys portray yourselves as forward thinkers, selling green space is anything but.

          6. “When ANY green space is gone, built over, it is gone forever.” Right, so you are in favour of a complete and total ban on all suburban development, not a single green space ever built over again. Time to stop all the bulldozers in Kumeu and Millwater and Pokeno to preserve the green. Ok, fair call.

    4. Yes that’s a real risk given the way voting percentages are heading.

      The reality is that in a FPP vote, readers of this blog who aspire to a “Greater Auckland” especially in transport and housing terms, need to weigh up the possible upside of Chloe v Phil against the possible downside of Vic v Phil.

  3. Funnily I discount candidates who talk too much about affordable housing. Auckland Council has a small part to play in this. It’s normally is just empty words to me trying to latch on to public sentiment. Same goes with candidates who seem to talk education, poverty and crime.

    1. Not sure how you define affordable housing. For me, increasing supply is the best way to make housing affordable. And that is something Council has a lot of control over, IMO.

    2. Agree, talk of affordable housing is often about specific types of housing that are shaped to be affordable even if they are not the ideal housing type. I would rather support someone who wants to remove barriers to house building (up or out) that would reduce the overall price of housing, and allow people to build what they want.

  4. I think it says Chloe is serious in her objectives in that she hasn’t sought a council or ward role as a fall-back, unlike one or two of them. Chloe was one of my students at one point. Quite proud of her.

    I am seriously concerned about reports of low <20% voting paper returns so far. Few days to go yet for this to pick up. Low returns could produce interesting results.

    I hope people vote, they all count. Otherwise don't complain about decisions that are made.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to vote. And yes, Chlöe is rather inspiring. To quote a kiwi friend of mone who lives here in amsterdam, “if chlöe becomes mayor, then I’d seriously consider moving to auckland.” And hes originally from nelson, and has never lived in akl.

  5. I see this as a stunt to propel her into central politics (greens most likely). It is amazing to me that an inexperienced 22 year old thinks that she can be the mayor of Auckland….either she lacks insight into the role or she is supremely arrogant.

    Like others, I cant understand why she wouldnt spend a decade or so at LB level and gather some knowledge and experience but then again, I suspect that this was a well considered career move and she has central govt aspirations.

    As for voting for her, I see a similarities with those who vote trump etc…ideology over all else/disenfranchised protest vote. Kinda sad. Goff needs a strong mandate to leverage central govt imo.

    1. Bah humbug. Questioning someone’s motivations is a fairly weak point. From what chlöe says it seems to me that she’s motivated primarily by a desire to improve local government in auckland.

      In terms of experience, that’s perhaps a more reasonable basis for deciding one’s vote. Personally i think ability and personality is more important than experience, but appreciate that others may score ot differently.

      Your final point about people voting for her because of ideology is dismissive and baseless. I considered her policies and my values and voted accordingly. Don’t dismiss such decisions simply because they’re different from yours.

      1. At 22 and with no experience is she aware of where the improvements need to be made, let alone how to achieve this (politically)??? I would say no.

        In terms of gauging ability, how does one do this when she has no experience (has she been employed in any job,let alone a job that is relevant to local politics).

        In terms of my last comment I dont mean to sound dismissive, but to me, those that vote Chloe are voting against their own interests (same as Trump, brexit). I get that it is frustrating in Auckland, but it is important to be realistic and pragmatic. Voting for Chloe is neither of those.

        1. Spend any time with Chlöe and you soon forget her age. People obsessing on that are describing their own prejudice and not looking at the evidence. And yes it is perfectly common to spend decades at all sorts of levels of government or business and not have have of the clarity and seriousness that she offers. The most disappointing thing for me with a number of older candidates is their cynicism. Cynics do not make effective leaders; they have no faith in anyone’s ability to improve things.

        2. Chloe’s policies indicate she has a good idea of where improvements could be made, at least ones that align with my values. In terms of ability, Chloe seems to communicate exceptionally well and comes across as both intelligent and empathetic. Those are the important attributes I look for in a representative.

          I think you doth protest too much with regards to being “pragmatic” etc. I am being pragmatic; Chloe ran second in the polls, and seemed to align with my values more than the other candidates.

          So ultimately I think your warnings are misplaced. By all means vote for whom you consider to be the best candidate, but don’t simply come here and try and tell everyone else they’re wrong based on some subjective notions of “pragmatism”. I think a person with Chloe’s abilities would make a pragmatic mayor.

  6. Yep, voted for Chloe also as she most closely reflected my political values. Was intending to vote Goff but along came the CHLOEMATOR!

    I am very lucky to reside in the North Shore Ward with 2 of the best “liberal, progressive and open minded” candidates available – Chris Darby and Richard Hills.

  7. Diversity… oh god… sounds like reverse sexism dressed up as a regressive progressive.

    Truly if Chloe was Charles and Phil Phillipa and all things were equal I would be amazed if you would have written the same final sentence before the conclusion.
    No doubt you would have then backed the ‘experience’ and strong record of “Phillipa Goff”… silly identity politics at work in your face people, don’t let NZ catch the disease.
    Most of the post was decent and then you blew it and let yourself down.

    Diversity is not inherently ‘good’ and should not be the deciding factor if “all things are equal” which when looking at the political / personal records of Goff and Chloe I think is a highly debatable and fundamentally flawed statement.

    I would not have commented except for I feel this is electioneering of what should be a personal decision on a public platform and my and others silence would be to aid and a bet it.
    Think for yourself and stay away from identity politics, ‘play the ball and not the man’… yes I said the man, get over it, it is part of the phrase.

    To back one candidate on diversity is not sensible or logical in my opinion and is a great example of the soft bigotry of low expectations. She is good enough because she is good enough or she isn’t – age and sex are irrelevant.
    Much like the female blogger you recently added with a throw away line about diversity… She is writing because she is GOOD enough, nothing less or you are a twat.

    Think for yourself TransportBlog commenters and ignore the subjective.

    PS: For the health of Auckland, after this election an STV check up might not go astray politically.

    EQUITY (access) not equality (outcome).

    1. For the record this is the name I have commented by for the past 2-3 years, not sure why it used my full name (above) – not trying to hide.

      1. You know you just made no contribution right?
        And you did the very thing that most intelligent people can see is wrong… you went directly to… Identity politics!!

        You have not questioned ANY points and played the man / attacked me.

        Do you know the name Keenan has a proud and long standing history within Maoridom?
        It goes back to inshore whalers who camped and settled with Maori communities pre1840?
        Does that possibly make your comment based entirely on my surname rather silly?

        Maybe I am white, maybe I am part Maori..? What does it matter, try and attack POINTS, not people… Your life will be far more rewarding.

        Love
        Your (possibly) white and very content, fellow commenter,

        xx

    2. John,

      I don’t ask you to share my values, nor do I ask you to like them. But I do expect you to respect them, and if you are to disagree then I expect you to do so respectfully. In particular, I ask you to make your case carefully and considerately, and avoid anger, exhortations, and emotional words like “sexism” and “disease”. This sort of language has underpinned Brexit and Trump, and is not welcome here.

      You seem to assume I define “diversity” in terms of someone’s physical identity, e.g. age and gender. But in my post I have not defined diversity in such terms. Indeed, in your comment you have presumed to know how I define “diversity”. This is extremely presumptuous. And as it happens wrong.

      What if I value diversity in intellectual terms, in terms of one’s thought and opinion? What I listened to Chloe, read her policies, and determined that she has abilities and ideas that were ***distinct*** from the other mayoral candidates and, indeed, distinct from the majority of councillors that would make up the council? Is this sort of intellectual diversity not something that people should value?

      Basically, please don’t presume to know what I mean when I say “diversity”.

      1. Appreciate the comment Stu.

        Nothing I said was in anger, if it comes across like that I sincerely think you should reread it.
        Also come on… invoking Trump / Brexit..??!!??

        I don’t think those 2 words you mention are divisive either.
        Sexism was used in the context of a thought experiment (role reversal). Disease I said about an ideology – these are not personal attacks on you.

        I will accept this line of argument about “intellectual” diversity, it is a good one I like it, but would you concede you didn’t articulate that within your original blog post and that perhaps you could have explained that more?

        “The main reason I didn’t vote for Phil Goff is simply because when I am relatively indifferent between two candidates, then I tend to vote for the candidate that brings more diversity to the table. In this case, Chlöe wins out. Notwithstanding my own vote for Chlöe, I wouldn’t be disappointed if Phil was to win.”

        Otherwise your final statement essentially reads to me… both candidates are pretty much equal and I chose diversity (over I guess experience?)
        Can you not see that when talking about a 22 year old woman and a 60+ white male career politician, activist with over 40 years experience, ‘intellectual’ diversity in favour of the former might need to be explained a little as the driver of your thoughts?
        As opposed to more obvious, basic and in my opinion (and yours I think) irrelevant diversity that Chloe offers (age and gender)?

        “Basically, please don’t presume to know what I mean when I say “diversity”.”

        Yeah so please explain – in your post – would be my honest response.

        Also btw you can see the personal attack on me in the thread right? No biggie, but not very Hillary / EU of David…

        1. Hi John,

          I’ll keep this quick because I have to sleep!

          Sorry, my allusion to Trump / Brexit was simply to suggest that I’m tired of such emotive talk. Not to suggest that you normally talk like that, because you don’t. Yes I saw that comment and thought you dealt with it rather well. I can re-visit (tomorrow), if you like.

          In terms of explaining my take on diversity, I’m not sure there’s much to be gained. I value diversity, you (if I interpret you correctly) don’t seem to, Nuff said no?

          1. I like your idea of ‘intellectual’ diversity, guess I just don’t think of it under that umbrella.
            Usually I feel it is applied more at a base level and for equality purposes, and yes I guess we might happily agree to disagree about the merits of that on our society.
            I thought most of your post / analysis was good. Just needed the definition of diversity to be explained a little further to me as it seemed to be the deciding factor and my initial thoughts were it wasn’t a good enough reason, but we have reconciled that.

            Cheers

          2. Hi John – just coming back to this thread (sorry been busy with classes). Thank you for expressing an interest in understanding my definition of diversity. I’ve been ruminating on these issues for a while, and have actually had a post sitting in draft for the last 6 months or so that treats these very topics. Given your interest, and others, I’ll dust it off and see if I can bring it up to scratch. I don’t think we’ll necessarily see completely eye-to-eye, but I think we’ll definitely find some common ground.

            Talk soon,
            Stuart.

  8. Chloe at 22 is more articulate and makes more sense than most of our current councillors. I cant believe the amount of airtime dog related drivel gets every time I check out the live stream. FPP is a war where everyone ultimately either ends up on one of two sides or effectively takes no further part. I chose the non-Crone side. If we really want to give dark horses a chance then maybe we need primaries

    1. I agree, many councillors are totally incoherent. But we are not talking about councilors we are talking about the mayor. And in that context we are actually talking goff vs. Swarbrick….actually we are talking goff vs crone.

          1. yeah I was just looking for it now and couldn’t find it – it’s possible I could have mis-read the poll?

  9. You mean ‘you’ forgot her age. This doesnt mean that others would.

    And what is this evidence? Aside from your personal discussions with her…

    1. Damn right I forgot her age; she exhibits a lot more maturity than most people twice her age. There are plenty of links above, I appreciate that most have not had the opportunities that I have to meet the candidates and really get to know them. Though having said that they have all been available to anyone that wants to make that effort. Politicians in election mode are not hard to get to.

      My view is she is an extraordinary talent at any age, what if she were 70? Isn’t it important for us all to evaluate people in any situation setting aside, as best we can, issues like age, race, marital status, sexual preference, hair colour, preferred coffee….? I certainly think so.

  10. Nicely timed and thinly veiled attack on Mike Lee. You choose to forget about his securing more regional parks, funding for pest irradication on Hauraki gulf islands or the fact he wanted to protect the greenfields on the externalities of the city (which encourages more intensification in the existing boundaries). If you want to build intensive slums rather than quality apartments…forget about quality altogether as well. “Trust the market” Stu as it always gets it right – Tui advert.

    I would rather you took the time to write an objective overview of what the three Waitemata candidates have achieved for the ward or the city/region. But instead we have your poison pen at work. Look at the lack of detail you put into the two other candidates. Even Thomas, who you have fallen in love with, you can bearly get two paragraphs together on the guy, just about 3 sentences!

    Yes, Mike Lee has been critical about some parts of the UP, but he has voted for it and he’s done so much more for our great city. It is a shame you voted with blinkers on. As pointed out by Chris Trotter in The Daily Blog recently.. some blogs and groups seem to have hijacked for this election:

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/09/25/must-read-sunday-from-good-guys-to-fall-guys-the-spinoff-and-generation-zero-fail-to-endorse-mike-lee/

    1. Jon, this is boring. Stu clearly doesn’t agree with you and your perpetual fandom of Mike. He has had a look at the record and values of the candidates and has decided to vote for Rob. This is not a sign of conspiracy or betrayal, as, unlike you all of us here are independent of any political machine so have no such loyalties to betray. Mike has done a lot over the years, including a lot of great things, but we really disagree with him around housing and intensification, and feel he is fighting old causes in this area that events have over taken. So it goes.

      Stu is probably the same as me when I say I will support Mike whenever I agree with him, and not when I don’t. We offer no blind following of any politician or political group at any level, hell, we don’t all agree among ourselves. We are not members of any party, and aim to praise and criticise all and everyone of them on their merits. Supported by argument and evidence as best we can.

      And the idea that Chris Trotter in agreement with Penny Bright with their endlessly absurd conspiracy theories as evidence that ‘some blogs’ have ‘been hijacked’ is beyond laughable. Debate the issues don’t fall down some looney-left (or rabid-right) rabbit hole of righteous indignation when every doesn’t fall into line with your favoured ideology or personality.

    2. Hi JR,

      Yes you are correct to note that Mike is a strong supporter of environmental outcomes, such as regional parks and pest eradication. If these are important to you, then you’re welcome to vote for him. Note that in my case 1) housing and 2) transport were my top concerns.

      Important to note that I’m a human and that this entitles me to hold distinct opinions from you. As frustrating as this is for you, I hope you can comes to terms with it. Try yoga perhaps?

      Yours sincerely,
      He who doth strike with poisoned digits.

    3. Yesterday’s challenges are not tomorrow’s (or even today’s) challenges. Genuinely: well done Mike for what you’ve achieved. But if you’re not up to dealing with the next round of urban problems, please step aside. Boomers have (generalising) properties, free pensions, low debt. Looks like my kids will have none of those, and I’d like us to do something about it. Zoning reform is critical to many social and environmental outcomes, and painting it as developer sycophancy is utterly misleading.

  11. *** This comment has been (lightly) edited for violating our user guidelines, specifically “moaning about the blog”. ***

    You write [Mike] off for “liking trains”, but have you even given a minute’s thought to where Auckland’s rail service would be without him?

    There would be no electric trains, there would be no Onehunga trains, patronage would be much lower, and the new Bus Network would not be able to be delivered as intended because the rail service would be inadequate. The CRL would unlikely have gotten off the block either, because it required such things as electrification to be done first. It’s also unlikely that anyone else would have come along and done these things. There were more people against the rail upgrades than for.

    It’s great that you like the sentiment expressed by candidates with no lengthy track record of delivering as much as Mike has, but of course they are largely talking about matters that will be beyond their control. Better to vote on proven outcomes from a candidate than sentiment alone.

    Each to their own, but just reflect on the state Auckland’s PT network would be in now without those rail projects Mike made happen. To ignore electrification, Onehunga and the CRL being enabled by them, and write him off because you don’t like where Parnell Station is going (there would be no Parnell station at all without him either) is unfortunate.

    1. Yes, I’m prepared to vote for someone else with an unproven track record if their values appear to align with mine.

      Auckland’s just spent several decades and tens of millions rectifying poorly-located stations. Boston Rd –> Grafton, Panmure, and Avondale etc.

      I personally would rather wait a couple of years to get Parnell station in the right place, rather than rushing into building the station in the wrong location.

      1. Parnell platforms are already built and have been for a long time. The station isn’t moving, no matter who you vote for.

        1. I wasn’t trying to imply the station would necessarily be shifted.

          Parnell station is, perhaps, an example of the issues that arise when projects are unduly accelerated due to political pressure. I know people like Mike agitate for things to happen faster, but sometimes less haste is more speed. In the long-run.

          1. I think the last think we need with public transport spending in Auckland is more delay (while we try to make it perfect)….

            There is much to be said for just getting on and doing stuff rather than sitting on the fence waiting for a better solution to come along.

          2. There is something to be said about doing stuff quickly, especially where it doesn’t lock you into a bad solution. Service improvements and bus lanes are something I’d put in that category.

            On the other hand, building train stations is not something I’d look to do quickly. It’s something I’d look to do well. Indeed, Auckland is still working to fix poorly-located stations at great expense.

          3. You have to ask why that station took so long to start, and now sits half built and unfinished, with the suggestion that they might open it without even building an overbridge, and now we hear that AT are planning to skip it with three of the four lines that pass through there.

            Sounds like the classic case of trying to rush through and getting it a bit wrong, and it ending up taking even longer as a result.

      2. Yes, why bemoan about location of Parnell Station when the entire rail network would be in a shocking state without Mike Lee’s concerted and effective effort to bring it into the 21st century?

        You might not like Mike Lee SUPPORTING the Unitary Plan, but he did. He registered that he opposed parts of it attacking green areas, like that around the Long Bay Regional Park and allowing poor quality apartments to be constructed which could turn into slums. Not what our great city needs. But I’m more facinated by your skimpy writing about your favoured and beloved candidate. Totally reads like an attack on Cr. Mike Lee more than anything else without solid objective thought into the piece. Perhaps it was designed to read like that?

        On another issue which relates to Stu Donovans piece, is it time for a name change from TRANSPORTblog? If it was about transport and successes, Mike Lee would be at the top of the list of successful local body leaders who have delivered massively successful positive transport outcomes for Auckland. Currently the Property Council(hopefully they and private developers are not funders of the blog, its author or that group GA) must be loving the full, unbridled support of market lead developments at any cost.

        1. There are no funders of this blog Jon, only an occasional donation drive to cover hosting costs every year or so… and the time donated by authors to write posts day in and day out. Sorry, you’ll have to push your conspiracy theories elsewhere.

        2. Jon Reeves – my voting decisions are based on what I expect them to do in the next three years. Mike Lee was a true champion of Auckland up until 2010, when he operated at a regional level, and he fully deserves that recognition. However, since moving into a ward he appears to have become a nostalgist, with no obvious eye on the future.

          Also what is wrong with the Property Council benefiting from construction of private dwellings that give more people the opportunity to live somewhere they want at a price they can afford? I imagine you are not too concerned about a private relocation company benefiting from relocating Newmarket station to Parnell?

        3. Jon you are now repeating the childish and entirely unsubstantiated accusation from that font of sense and reason, Penny Bright, that we are funded by the Property Council. We are not. Sadly, we are almost entirely self funded plus some occasional crowd style fund raising.

          Really this is stupid, and does you no credit. Debate the issues instead of trying to make up stories. This is why political fanboys and their blogs are so dull; always spouting club membership nonsense that obscures the real issues.

          You are a NZF candidate, and you are a member of group with a politician at its heart; PTUA and Mike Lee. We are none of those things. You project you own condition onto us. We are not politically nor commercially aligned.

          1. Patrick, is that not what your group is now? A group of fanboys for the Unitary Plan? To the average reader of the blog it would seem as though you are fanboys for the UP as your authors take a sharp pencil to anyone who has some or any concerns about the UP. You display similar behaviour as (to quote your blog) “our friends at Generation Zero” who have scored Mike Lee equal with Ralston and lower then Stu Donovan’s fanboy Rob Thomas. They, like Donovan, ranked Mike Lee lower because he had questions over the Unitary Plan. Mike questioned removal of environmentally friendly green belts, retaining some heritage areas, and poor quality construction of apartments. Do you not remember the leaky homes fiasco? Again, like the UP, leaky homes were forced onto us by a National Party led Government but the costs of the disaster rested with ratepayers.

            Why do you run down the highway at light speed hailing unbridled building of anything of differing quality in the UP, but completely fail to recognise or debate the elephant in the corner which is open door mass immigration? National and the “supposedly” Green Party are the parties promoting mass immigration dispite the issues of housing, transport, education and health infrastructure being unable to cope in our city. Our environment cannot cope with the additional pressures, not that Greens have made any noise about that. Is it agreement by silence on mass immigration?

          2. JR – I’m pretty sure it is the existing 4,700,000 New Zealanders that are the biggest impact on the environment not the additional 60,000 migrants coming into the country.

        4. Jon how much did PTUAs OIA/LGOIMA of how much we’ve been paid by AT & NZTA turn up? A big fat zero is what of course, as it would if you were able to do the same thing with the property council. Stop with the conspiracy theories.

          As for the Unitary Plan, he voted against aspects of the recommended plan more than any other councillor including of the zoning for the entire isthmus. He was joined in voting against allowing housing choice on the isthmus by Denise Krum and Cameron Brewer.

          No one denies that Mike has done some really good things for the city during his tenure in office but he hasn’t always got things right (who does). As an observation he has seemed noticeably grumpier and abrasive this last term, something I’ve also heard from many people who have worked with him. Just because he’s done a good job in the past, doesn’t mean he will in the future.

          If he wins I hope he takes some time to consider what has made people who have previously supported him unhappy at his performance.

          1. Matt – I just found this posting highlighting some of the transportblog authors have received payments by Auckland Transport. Shocked!

            http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/10/04/blog-watch-dear-transport-blog-whos-your-daddy/?utm_content=buffer25eda&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

            At the end of the day (John Key phrase), it’s just not a good look to be taking money from an organisation you proclaim to be independent from without declaring it publicly. Money talks.

          2. Oh dear that is a bitter rant from Bradbury.

            Patrick is a commercial photographer, and works for many different companies and agencies. His opinions are honest and forthright and haven’t softened over the years. So to with Matt.

            (And as for the reason Bradbury is so upset – Lee isn’t a friend of working Aucklanders. He has done a great amount to take money from poorer Aucklanders and put it into the hands of banks and the rich.)

          3. Soooo … Jon you have found no evidence to support your insinuations? Nice work! You run about wasting people’s time with conspiracy theories so as to try and undermine a couple of volunteers who are trying to make Auckland better. Your behaviour is so bad it’s funny.

          4. Jon I can assure you 41k is a very small part of the turnover of my photography business over the past 5 years, and entirely for contracted services. If I really wanted more work from AT I can assure you I would be smarter to keep my mouth shut about their work, and not publish strident options about it under my own name.

            Also the idea that I would change my views for such a small sum, (or any sum, actually) is also woefully silly. As is the idea that public organisations in AKL are shopping around to get people to blog in favour of their projects with little bits of money or small jobs.

            This really is silly, while we are using the official information act to find out what AT/NZTA are up to with multiple billions of dollars of public money you guys are using it to pursue us!? And getting all excited about minor payments for work done in our day jobs.

            Are you sure you are directing your attention in the most productive ways? Are we really the enemy here? And are Bright and Bradbury, with their name calling and silly labels, really the most effective people at improving the city; these people are the benchmark? These are your colleagues now?

            And how about your interest in the on-bus advertising business, that’s with AT right? Is that some sort scandal too? It doesn’t bother me; but is no different from this.

          5. To be honest that post just confirms why TDB struggles for much traction outside of it’s fanatical followers. I suspect it’s influence in the Labour party is one of the main reasons they keep putting up unelectable leaders and thus continue in the opposition wilderness.

  12. Voted for Phil Goff. He’s a long term public servant (MP for Mt Roskill), is experienced with how local government operates, and has policies that are needed to make Auckland a better place for its 1.5million+ residents to live.

    While I admire Chlöe and what she stands for I feel the mayoral contest is too soon for her. If Auckland Council used STV she could possibly receive my 1st vote. However under Auckland Council’s (outdated) FPP voting system the danger is she could split the vote between Phil Goff and herself.

    With the right-wing candidates Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and John Palino – none of them will be good for Auckland. Vic Crone is likely to receive the most votes of the three (and is definitely safer than Palino), but the real danger is she wins more than Phil or Chlöe.

    I’m not in the Waitemata Ward, but if I was I would vote for Mike Lee for the same reasons. A vote for Rob Thomas (even though he’d be a great choice) makes it all the more dangerous for Bill Ralston to win the contest.

    1. I agree with that. I’ll take a competent and experience bureaucrat over a unskilled, unconnected and inexperienced “business leader” or “visionary” any day of the week.

  13. I am sure Chole is fine as a person – never met her so don’t know. But I would never ever vote a 22 year old for mayor. I think someone like Chole should go and do something first then come back with a bit of experience – maybe in 20 years.

    1. Should we also tell Crone and Palino to get some political experience first? Maybe they should run of major in 20 years after getting some political experience too.

      1. quite so, business experience does not necessarily translate to good public governance, this Salon.com article is very insightful on that account: http://www.salon.com/2016/02/14/this_is_donald_trumps_biggest_lie_our_politicians_have_failed_but_businessmen_may_be_worse/

        key quote: “It is dangerous and naïve, however, to reduce politics and public policy to the relatively straightforward calculus of commerce. To believe that there is an easy transference of competence in business management to public administration reveals historical ignorance on a profound and poisonous scale.”

  14. Why are people judging Choe’s political experience because of her age while a more mature Crone or Palino with no political experience never gets criticised (or anyone with no political experience).
    Just because they are old and looks experienced doesnt mean they are the best for Auckland politically.

    1. I agree to you to a point. I actually think a person should get experience by helping their local community first without any political power or at least very little such as local board. While I didn’t vote for Crone or Palino they actually have some experience at life, whatever you think of their policies. Chloe on the other hand is 22. One day should might actually be a good servant of Auckland but I would like to see her serve Auckland first in some capacity apart from being really keen on politics.

  15. Voted for Chloe because she expressed the sort of ideas I wanted to see discussed in the campaign and it seemed that Goff had a good lead. OK risk of Crone slipping through but she would be lame duck with either Hulse or Collins as majority leader having the power. Most of Crones proposals are unworkable but she might be able embarass “her” government to give more funding.

  16. Good article Stu. I cannot vote in Auckland but I agree with your priorities -housing and then transport. From an outsiders viewpoint I think Chloe has made Auckland’s local government election much more interesting and I am hoping she continues in politics -at some level -local or central.

  17. Chloe has expressed a stronger grasp of what a mayor’s role is than most of the others, frankly. She has also been a journalist and runs her own business, so is not some naive waif fresh from school.

    Goff has been consistently polling so far ahead of Crone that voting for Swarbrick is not a risk. Goff will be fine as Mayor.

    Chloe has said that her main purpose is to engage more people to vote, and she is smart enough to know she would have very little region-wide coverage as a Local Board or Ward candidate. I see a strong future for her in our civic life and I am very pleased by that, just as I am by the growing confidence of other young citizens like Generation Zero. It’s the grumbling dinosaurs who need to be urged away from the table.

  18. Damn it. Just realised I cooked my vote up. Really should have read the Crones website better after all she is the only one who even made mention of Rodney.

  19. There’s a very simple answer as to why Mike Lee as chair of the ARC was a good guy and Mike Lee as councillor for Waitemata and Gulf sucks. It is that he serves his constituents. His constituents used to be the whole of the old Auckland City. Now they are the cashed up millionaire villa owning boomers of Ponsonby, Westmere, Waiheke etc. Simples.

      1. Funnily enough, “Bomber” Bradbury’s smear about “gentrification of PT” applies much more to Parnell station and the Wynyard tram than to anything this blog promotes!

        1. There’s delicious amounts of irony involved in the Daily Blog and others accusing us of “gentrifying” PT. We’re the ones pushing for immediate and incremental bus improvements that will tend to benefit the less well-off, while to others the word “bus” is a dirty word that shall not be mentioned.

    1. I have no preference for either method. I just don’t see how allowing voting online is going to make electors become more educated about local or general politics and thus more likely to cast their vote.

  20. Chloe is awesome and I hope she does well. But I voted Goff because our crap voting system means that anything other than that is kind of the same as a vote for Crone.

  21. Just saw Mike Lee’s response to Stu’s article on Facebook. Very disappointed at Mike’s thin skin and suggestions that the piece was defamatory. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned political cut-and-thrust? Unlike Stu, I DID vote for Mike, but it was a margin-call as he’s become an increasingly black-and-white, “if you’re not with me then you’re against me” politician as time has gone on. How about a bit more open-mindedness and creative left-field thinking, Mike, instead of political pit-bull?

    1. thank you for engaging with the discussion, and for communicating your feelings here. You are not the first person to reach out to me in this way. I have to be honest: I too was surprised and disappointed by the tenor of Mike’s Facebook post and responses.

      I am baffled to think anyone could view this post as an “attack”. What I set out to achieve was to communicate the thought process that led me to casting my vote, in the hope of stimulating further debate and discussion. I think this goal has largely been achieved. I am, for example, extremely impressed by many comments from people who voted differently from I – and for very good reason. Such discussions are precious, and all too uncommon in today’s society.

      Like you, while political cut-and-thrust will sometimes become heated, I believe we have to try and maintain a modicum of decency and mutual respect for people’s humanity, despite our disagreements. I feel that Mike has failed to uphold such standards in his FB posts and comments, and can only hope this is able to be communicated to him by people who are closer to him than I.

      I know of at least one person, for example, who politely disagreed with Mike’s FB post and comments, only to have their comments deleted. This is a shame, and runs the risk that democractic expression is increasingly limited to self-created echo chambers within which disagreements are not tolerated and hence never raised. And that would leave us all worse off.

      Go well.

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