In the lecture theatre that the Radio NZ SuperCity debate was held this morning Len Brown clearly and easily won – but how did it appear on radio?
Bill Ralston and his coterie did his best to even up the perceptions. The front row had the “Panel” of Todd Niall (RNZ Auckland Issues reporter) and David Wilson (AUT Public Policy expert); the second row was for VIPs. Bill had brought a group along with him early and with his VIP invite sat immediately behind the Panel and their microphones. Result: loud cheering from Bill & co for Banks and most of the audience cheering for Brown no doubt getting similar levels of noise on the radio. This was the “front row” that Len Brown was referring to during the debate.
Even then Banks tried to take credit for some of Len’s applause – generating much laughter from the audience.
From inside there was an entertaining debate with Brown as a clear winner, going by audience appreciation; Banks repeated his clichés – ‘affordable progress’ drew groans every time, and ‘can-do council’ eyeball-rolling; and Andrew Williams spoke well again – he seems good on the hustings, if lacking in supporters.
From outside things were somewhat more muddled. Audience noise clouded good political hits. And Radio NZ does need to institute a station-wide policy of naming their guests more often. Having 3 short white middle-aged experienced political men competing it’s not always so easy to distinguish them – in person Brown stands out as lighter on weight and hair, but the radio audience fails to get that. Indeed Brown spoke of diversity being Auckland’s point of difference, but one wouldn’t have got that from looking at the candidates or the audience – hopefully under his mayoralty we could encourage more participation from the whole of Auckland, rather than just the elite.
Because the elite is where the right like to keep it. They will never win if everyone became engaged in democracy. So they push the talk about who will be best able to talk to the government – the John Banks in their pocket or someone more independent of them. This fails to take account of the fact that with 1/3 of the population, whoever the government is, they’ll have to talk to Auckland. Lose Auckland like they lost Christchurch over the ECan sacking and they’ll lose government.
But overall still too little policy and vision. John Banks won’t build the airport train link that every other major city has and is so badly needed. They’ll all borrow from the future to pay for Auckland’s past lack of infrastructure spending. Social policy is at least on Len Brown’s agenda. There was nothing on interaction with Local Boards, which Len Brown supports giving more power to in the interests of real democracy, and John Banks is very silent over. They all support the inner-city loop, so that might at least happen; the 2nd harbour crossing might get postponed until crisis time under Banks, but all 3 want it.
So it’ll partly come down to who do you trust? Banks with his history of re-sanding beaches over giving the poorer areas any development, Ralston spinning his appearances and repetitive soundbites and WhaleOil as his chief bully-boy; or Brown who oversaw vastly superior economic growth in Manukau whilst maintaining greater levels of social programs to ensure that fewer were actually left behind?
If you’re in Auckland: just make sure you and your neighbours and friends vote.