ANSWERS: What are the important discussions you have around the dinner table?

In no particular order:

Hon. Jonathan Coleman, Incumbent, Candidate for Northcote, National

Like any other family with young children, our dinner table conversation is focussed on things that we can talk to the kids about.  This is a sample of the sort of things that come up.

What happened at school today?

Have you seen the news today?

If you don’t come back to the table, you’re getting a screen ban.

Have you made your birthday party list yet?

What are our plans for Saturday night?

Eat your vegetables!

Damian Light, Candidate for Northcote, United Future

Generally we talk about our day, what we’ve been up to and how it went. Dinner time is a good opportunity to unwind after a busy day.

It might seem strange to some, but we actually don’t discuss politics very often, even in election year. However, we do talk about government and its role in helping people, enabling them to live their lives. We talk about the challenges that we see and the potential solutions. There are some great challenges we face as a country but also as a local community – however, we’re also making some progress.

When we do talk politics or politicians, its generally about the policies, not the personalities. I’ve had the opportunity of meeting a number of politicians during my campaigns and they all seem like decent people, trying to do what they think is best.

When I was living at home, we used to have regular debates (aka arguments) about politics – my family has a wide spectrum of political views. I think that’s where I learned to argue properly and also grow a thicker skin! I sometimes miss those discussions, but most family events someone raises politics and away we go.

I think the most important part for me is the discussion – I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and its really important for everyone (myself included) to hear other points of view. It’s how we grow and learn, at any age.

Gil Ho, Candidate for Northcote, Internet Party

The important discussions I have around the dinner table are about my family’s future. We talk about where to buy a house, how long we have to save and how we are going to save. Another topic I talk a lot about is my work. I know my work stories aren’t probably fun for my audience to listen to but I tend to talk about it anyway.

Anne Hartley, Deputy Chair on Kaipatiki Local Board

Topics of the day. Politics local national and international. Sport. Family-what people are doing. Home Projects etc.

Lindsay Waugh, Member on Kaipatiki Local Board

Currently it is all about the election and how current revelations are illustrative of a significant change in NZ society and the progressive erosion of ethical standards of leadership. The increasing gap between rich and poor is growing as well as in increasing number of families that can be categorised as the “working poor” is a significant departure from the values this country used to champion.

The other key topic frequently under discussion is the ever increasing cost of housing in Auckland and how our children and their families will ever be able to afford their own home. Without that stake in NZ will our children stay in NZ or will they find more security,  support and opportunities for their families  in other cities around the world.

Richard Hills, Member on the Kaipatiki Local Board, Candidate for Northcote, Labour

Generally we discuss how everyone’s day is going. But also important political discussions obviously come up and how we can make things better for our community, especially for young people. Whether it’s around jobs or support services and making sure young people have a voice in the community.

Dr. Grant Gillon, Member on the Kaipatiki Local Board

If we read social history about families in New Zealand, important discussions always seemed to take place over the dinner table after dad came home from work. But, like the definition of family and work, the dinner table have differing understandings in today’s New Zealand society. In my case, the dinner table sits dusty in another room mainly because the dinner time is flexible. Most family catch-ups occur throughout the day with regular texts, emails and Facebook updates. For me the ‘dinner table’ discussions now take place early in the morning over breakfast or after 8 or 9pm when I get home. This is the important time of the day for me to discuss important issues. Once the burdens of the day have been unloaded the topic invariable turns to the political happenings of the day. And lately they have been numerous, complex, convoluted and sometimes exciting. They have revolved around both Wellington and Auckland.

I have heard the ‘Whalegate’ issues dismissed as either gossip or time to get back to the real issues. I suspect those people are either policy wonks or supporters who see current government through the proverbial rosy spectacles. I see a darker tinge. NZ consistently leads the listings of the least corrupt countries in the world. And I think most NZrs are proud of that reputation. But, recent changes in local government and central government allows big money to be coined by the unscrupulous. So if we delve past the gossip and focus on the impact of the events then we notice a disturbing trend of increasingly cynical manipulation of media stories and events to deceive the public.

Some of the harshest regimes in history have arisen when the public becomes distrustful of their country institutions, media, government and administrations. It is important to have a full and independent inquiry of the goings on so that people’s trust in the democratic processes and our (largely unwritten) constitution is maintained.

This week Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, announced his plan to slash spending in two of our most important aspects of local government: parks and community facilities; and transport. Both capital budgets are proposed to be trimmed by between 30 and 40 per cent. This means that local proposals that were consulted upon years ago are set to be cut. It also means that large glamour projects seem to be retained. So our local communities are taking  a big hit.  What is lost in the debate is that the so called average rates increase is on the back of a large decrease for businesses and a higher than average rates increase for households, many of whom have suffered average 10 per cent increases since Auckland Council came into being.

And if people cannot trust our government in Wellington it is harder for them to trust our local government in Auckland. There is time for it to all play out but the future looks grim, especially for those households who wonder what their massive rates bill is actually paying for.

That is why the recent goings on in the Beehive are an important topic in our family’s ‘dinner table’.

John Gillon hasn’t submitted his answer for this weeks question. There has been no editing of the answers – including spelling and grammar checks. These are direct copy and pastes from the files.

There are some very intriguing answers as well. I’ve found out a bit more about those who represent. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know that Jonathan Coleman had kids! Awesome stuff. It’s good to see we have politicians who are worried about our housing market as well. It does seem to be a worry.

Next week’s question:

If you could stand by one policy and ensure that it got enacted, what would it be?

This is given to our panel with money not being an object, so I can’t until next Friday to find out what they have for us!

Until next time


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