Coast candidates conf ident

By Laura Mills

The gloves were not quite off but tongues were sharp at the meet the candidates forum in Greymouth yesterday.
A few schoolboys even joined the largely retired 70-strong crowd.
Convenor Peter Frankpitt, from Grey Power, cautioned the five candidates not to criticise the other parties during their policy statements.
“Nothing below the belt,” Mr Frankpitt said.
Green list MP Kevin Hague, donning a green tie and rosette, was first up through the booming microphone.
“This sounds incredibly loud,” Mr Hague said.
“We’re incredibly deaf,” someone quipped.
Asking for the party vote, he said 250,000 New Zealand children were living in poverty. The Greens would extend paid parental leave, and early childhood education, while cleaning up rivers, he said before the alarm clock beeped ending his eight minutes.
Conservatives’ Claire Holley opened by saying she was a mum, grandmother and counsellor — but not a politician.
“But I am interested in where the country is going,” Mrs Holley said.
She advocated for binding referenda, tighter penalties for criminals, and to close the Waitangi Tribunal.
Ban 1080 candidate Peter Salter, dressed in a camouflage coat, made a confident start at his first public appearance, pretending to wipe water off himself while saying he was “wet behind the ears”.
He said 1080 poison had been used for 40-odd years and if it was working “why are they still using it?”.
“It’s a $100 million a year industry.”
Appropriately dressed in a smart blue coat, National’s Maureen Pugh kept talking about the home and family, comparing some immigrants to a house guest who had overstayed their welcome, and overflowed the bath.
“You need an elected MP who’s actually in government,” Mrs Pugh said, referring to the wind-throw tree debate.
Red tie, confident voice, current West Coast-Tasman MP, Labour’s Damien O’Connor, was last, saying that National had imposed a $55 billion debt on future generations.
“There’s a growing gap between the top 10% and the other 90%,” Mr O’Connor said.
Questions from the floor:
 Euthanasia
O’Connor, not in support; Holley, totally opposed; Salter: “Last thing I would want is someone to pull the pin on me”; Hague, support; Pugh, cautious approach.
 Fluoride
Holley, against though in favour of councils making decisions; Pugh, opposed; Hague,local government in tough position, move decision making elsewhere; O’Connor, support but would not force it on councils; Salter, “against anything with ‘fluoro’ in it”.
 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade
Holley, anything done in secret is suspicious; Hague, long-term sceptic; O’Connor, devil is in the detail; Pugh, “don’t get rich selling stuff to ourselves”.
 Development West Coast deed change
O’Connor, tweak it; Hague, make it more an economic development agency, less a bank; Holley, too much red tape currently; Pugh, “already working with DWC on some tweaking”.
 1080 (only asked of Hague). “We hate 1080.” With National, the Greens had trialled self-setting traps that would reduce the use of poison; also backed a poison developed by New Zealand scientists which only targeted marsupials. Would subsidise the fur industry.