Interview by Emilie Baldauf and Genna Hawkins
Kia ora and welcome to the third and final instalment of Meet the Mayor. Voting for your local elections are now open and Public Policy Club is excited to introduce you to another leading mayoral candidates; finding out more about their policies and what they can do for you as a voter.
Today, we are joined by mayoral candidate Efeso Collins! Efeso is currently sitting councillor for the Manukau ward and previously has worked in a range of roles across the private and public sector, including a few at the University of Auckland! Today we discussed Efeso’s vision for youth involvement in council, crime in Auckland, climate change, and more!
Why do you believe it is important for youth voices to be included in government decision making?
I believe young people, like all other Aucklanders, should engage with government, our public institutions and in public policy as we all have an equal stake in creating the conditions and society that we want to live in. Too often the needs and views of younger generations are either marginalised or deprioritised precisely because they are not as politically active as older generations. For instance one of my opponents for the Mayoralty Mr Wayne Brown prefers “vote-rich age groups”, as according to him “you can walk down the street and ask young people about what’s coming up for an election and they really don’t know”. While I believe young people need to become much more active in political discourse, I don’t believe policy gains should only go to who votes the most. I believe it is the duty of political leaders to lead for all not just the majority, support the ones who don’t have a voice or who don’t exercise their voice, and seek to build consensus rather than creating winners and losers. Younger Aucklanders will inherit the city people of my generation shape and leave behind and that vision of a future being better than the past is what drives me to lead and serve this city.
How could a Youth Governing Board further encourage civic engagement within young people? My idea of a Youth Governing Board is modeled on the Youth Parliament and is to engage young people in local government and encourage an interest in decision-making that shapes the city. The idea is that young people will have a chance to be mentored and participate in council governance and report back to their schools and colleagues on their experience. There is much more detail to be worked out and this is but one of many other policies of my campaign to support youth wellbeing.
Do you believe the voting age should be lowered to 16? I support lowering the voting age to 16. I am also aware of the fact that the youth age spectrum of 15-24 is vastly diverse and any age voting to set at is likely to have a little bit of arbitrariness to it. While voting is an important part of the democratic process, I also believe involvement and engagement is much wider than voting. I do however worry about lower voting trends right across the western world and agree that we need to look at options to engage new voters and re-engage current ones.
How will you ensure a diverse range of voices are being heard? I am planning to be a Mayor for all of Auckland and I will retain all of our diverse advisory panels (youth, Pacific, seniors, rainbow, ethnic) that engage with the council on policy and procedure. I will also set higher standards for Auckland Council on engaging better with all parts of our community so council is not always driven by a vocal minority.
What are your views on the current safety level in the CBD? If elected, what would you do to make the CBD a safer place for young people? The seemingly endless stories of shootings, gang tensions, ram raids, robberies and drunken violence is undoubtedly having an effect on our collective sense of safety and security. As a proud Aucklander and a father of two young children, I cannot accept a city where people feel unsafe to venture out at night in their own neighbourhood and local centres. I am not naive enough to think we can eliminate all crime, but I know that Aucklanders feeling confident enough to work, create, trade, shop, socialise, and use public and non-motorised forms of transport to do so is vital to building a strong economy, vibrant communities and meet our climate goals.
- I will make sure council works with the Police, government agencies, business and social services for coordinated action on safety across the city.
- I will make sure the $22m residents and businesses in the central city pay every year in targeted rates is used to invest in safer public spaces at all times of the day for residents, workers and visitors.
- I will support better funding and support of community led and volunteer groups such as
Neighbourhood Support, Community Patrols and Maori Wardens who provide safety services and education in our communities.
- I will ask the government for more resources in Auckland to support at risk youth so young
people have the right mentors and role models. To be hard on crime you have to be hard on
How would you help homeless people living in CBD? I acknowledge homelessness is an issue and addressing homelessness is part of my housing policy for Auckland. Investment is our most vulnerable communities such as the homeless is needed so they are supported to get out of the streets into stable supported accommodation. Council, government and NGOs such as Housing First are already working in this space but the issues are complex and progress and meaningful change is slow. As Mayor I will support and invest in the Housing First model so our homeless community is supported into stable and healthy accommodation and out of streets, parks and other public spaces.
The past two years have been incredibly difficult for businesses, especially small businesses in the CBD that were used to an influx of international tourists. How will you, as mayor, help them recover?
I acknowledge the business sector across Auckland and NZ is hurting. Covid restrictions, a gloomy economic outlook, changed consumer behavior and availability of labour are all putting a lot of pressure on businesses. I have spoken to many business owners who tell me about the financial and emotional toll they have been under for the past 2 years and how it has eroded their hopes for their family’s future. I believe if we can get the right support and settings in place the city and its industries will ultimately prove resilient as they have always done.
My approach to supporting Auckland’s economy get back on its feet will be building a council that does its job in:
- keeping our public spaces, road corridors and public amenities in the city attractive and safe
- ensuring rules and bylaws adequately protect communities, businesses and our natural
- having enough resources to enforce those rules consistently
- making it easier for people and businesses to travel across the city by reducing congestion and making public transport a much more attractive and affordable option
- ensuring we have good quality and adequate housing to attract and retain a talented workforce
- genuinely engaging with business and industry experts to make better decisions for Auckland
- ensuring Tātaki Auckland Unlimited acts as an honest broker between Auckland’s businesses and the government so adequate support and the right policy settings are in place as businesses get back on their feet
- ensuring Auckland’s voice is heard loud and clear in Wellington.
How would your mayoralty address the issue of climate change? Addressing climate change is a key pillar of my campaign. Council action on climate change is supported by most Aucklanders and a key issue raised by younger Aucklanders. My administration will focus on climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation as a priority. There are still significant challenges regarding the right incentives to change behaviour, the required investment needed for sustainable transport, the greening of our city and economy, and taking care of communities and sectors that will be most impacted and least resilient to change.
- I will work with a coalition of mayors across New Zealand for coordinated action and investment on climate change, including bringing government investment to meet the challenges of local action.
- I will make sure communities and households who are least able to afford climate adaptation are taken into account in planning for a more sustainable future.
- I will use the proceeds of the Climate Action Targeted Rate and other funding sources to invest in free public transport, tree planting, volunteer services, and social enterprises to deliver green solutions and better biodiversity.
- I will make sure council’s own operations, facilities and fleet are decarbonised as a priority
- I will continue and expand the planting of trees to increase the urban forest canopy starting in our communities with the least coverage to improve climate resilience, mitigation and increased biodiversity.
- I will work with iwi mana whenua, our traditional kaitiaki, to ensure their voices and priorities are supported in climate action in Auckland.
Voting closes on 12 noon Saturday 8 October.