ACT‘s “off with her head” comment “unfortunate”

ACT party candidate Cameron Luxton, left, and Tauranga City commission chair Anne Tolley.

Comments by Tauranga city commissioner and former National MP Anne Tolley on Wednesday about Tauranga’s by-election candidates’ priorities has resulted in a range of responses from the candidates, with ACT party candidate Cameron Luxton calling her “Tauranga’s own Marie Antoinette”.

“The power has gone to her head, and we say off with it,” says Luxton.

Tolley made the statement on Wednesday that “some of the early commentary from by-election candidates has been “out of touch” with the real needs of the constituency”, and that they should focus on “real world issues”.

“Being appointed a highly paid commissioner by Labour, has gone to former National MP Anne Tolley’s head,” says Luxton.

“The people of Tauranga are having an election. The right to choose who speaks for us is our democratic birthright, but nobody told Anne Tolley, Tauranga’s Marie Antoinette.

“It’s time Tauranga gave her the same treatment. The power has gone to her head, and we say off with it.”

Following his statement, Luxton told Checkpoint he was summoned to a meeting with the commissioners and was unhappy with the tone of the invitation and the suggestion of how Tauranga should be governed. Read more here.

Tauranga City commission chair Anne Tolley says Luxton’s statement is “unfortunate”.

“It’s unfortunate that one candidate has chosen to play political games rather than focusing on the needs of the community he aspires to represent.

“The commission has made a genuine attempt to engage with all by-election candidates, on behalf of the council and the community, to highlight some issues which should be taken seriously.”

SunLive reached out to the other by-election candidates to garner their thoughts on the matter.

Their responses are below.

Sam Uffindell.

The commissioner’s comments about by-election candidates being out of touch are not bothering National’s Tauranga candidate Sam Uffindell, who says they are directed at Labour and not him.

“Roading, congestion and infrastructure are huge problems for Tauranga and are holding our city back,” says Uffindell.

“Almost every road announced and funded by National has been cancelled or delayed by Labour.

“National is the only major party committed to building infrastructure in Tauranga and delivering this will be a priority for me as MP and for a Chris Luxon-led National Government.

“I’d also assure the people of Tauranga that under National these projects would be delivered in cooperation with a democratically-elected council.”

Jan Tinetti.

Labour candidate and List MP Jan Tinetti says she is distressed by Luxton’s press release “that questions Mrs Tolley’s integrity and advocates for extreme violence against her”.

She says that the commissioners, headed up by Tolley, are ensuring the best possible future for Tauranga.

“They [the commissioners] have demonstrated that they have ability to understand the needs of the community and what is required to deliver substantial and necessary change to a rapidly growing city.”

Tinetti agrees with Tolley’s statement that some of the early commentary from by-election candidates has been “out of touch” with the real needs of the community.

“Mrs Tolley and fellow commissioners have worked hard to understand the needs of the community.

“They have widely consulted with community members building a trusted relationship between the Council and the community. Half the commissioners are from Tauranga – they know this city.

“I want Tauranga to be the best place to live in New Zealand, we can achieve this by ensuring equity; that everyone has their needs met to thrive. Different groups of people need different things – we need to be responsive to different needs. Ensuring equity has to be our number one priority.

“I already regularly engage with the Commissioners and the Mayor of the Western Bay District Council regularly. I know Tauranga. I challenge all the candidates to know the issues as well as I do.

“A close working relationship is essential for positive outcomes for the people of Tauranga. Trusted goverance goes a long way to ensuring confidence to support and invest in Tauranga.”

Christopher Coker.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Christ Coker says has not received an invitation for a briefing on local government matters from commissioner, Anne Tolley.

“We are disappointed in Anne Tolley's statement that candidates are 'out of touch' with the real needs of the constituency,” says Coker.

“It is also a bit of an insult to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, when I did not receive an invitation for a briefing on local government matters.

“We say that Anne Tolley and the Commissioners are 'out of touch' and are indicative of not acting democratically by being selective with their invitations.

“We question if this interfering by another government department is legal. Any briefing from the Tauranga Council must be extended to all candidates.

“We are particularly mindful that one of the top priorities for Tauranga is housing, and of course the ALCP has policy solutions for environmentally friendly houses that can be built out of sustainable hemp creating employment.”

Coker says that recently Agriculture Minister Damion O' Connor stated that the Medicinal Cannabis Industry alone could be equal to the alcohol industry bringing in more than a billion dollars of excise tax.

“We have many solutions in our policy and look forward to engaging with the voters of Tauranga to find out what matters are dear to their hearts. We also look forward to explaining to them about the multiple benefits of the cannabis industries comprising of industrial, medicinal and recreational which all would be beneficial for the Tauranga economy,” says Coker.

Helen Houghton.

New Conservative candidate Helen Houghton says she will not agree or disagree with ACT’s statement that the power has gone to Anne Tolley’s head because “I have not yet had an opportunity to see the commissioners at work”.

“They are here because they have a job to do, a direction to lead and anyone leading must make decisive strong decisions that not all people will like, and it is better to move the city ahead to be fully functional than drag the chain without getting projects completed,” says Houghton.“That will just hold Tauranga up for longer and it does not benefit anyone. Focused energy and resources into three or four projects to completion instead of juggling more and not getting traction on any are what needs to be done. Then the other projects can be picked up. The challenge will be decisions on those which are most urgent.

“I see the top priorities, stated by those I have spoken to are the outrageous cost of living, infrastructure, crime, democracy, and education concerns which I plan to address and work hard for all.”

Houghton says she has been invited to the commissioner’s meeting, accepted, and welcomes the opportunity to be involved.

“How can we say we are doing our best for Tauranga if candidates are not prepared to sit around the table and input in the decision-making process, robust debate, challenge, and come to tangible best-fit solutions? It is imperative that candidates, local representatives, and National Ministers in Parliament are knowledgeable of all areas of need for Tauranga to ensure we address them, and move Tauranga forward while productively unifying the communities. There is no room for toxic behaviour or poor decision-making.

“As far as National government, they have overreached into every area of New Zealander's lives and that will be addressed when the people vote accordingly so we can remove more toxic behaviour in Parliament and work for the people instead of dictating to them. I am equipped to take to Parliament a high standard of work ethic and bring back morals that have been slowly eroding. The rights of all New Zealanders must be protected.”

Houghton says it is imperative for her, coming into Tauranga as a new resident that she listens carefully to the various voices and conflicting opinions of which she says there are two that are “distinctive”.

“Many ratepayers are heated about losing the ability to select their mayor and councillors and rightly so, taking one’s democracy away is something of a common occurrence lately however there are other residents who are applauding the commissions in place because finally things are getting done. I like getting things done but my rights are more important,” says Houghton.

“The benefit is that, as a new resident, I have fresh eyes with which to identify the issues Tauranga has been facing for several years now.  It does not take long, in fact, for my first visit to the CBD, where I stopped and questioned what on earth has been happening, or not happening.”

Houghton says there are two factors she wants to address in regards to ACT’s press release.

“Working alongside ‘with’ key stakeholders and those affected by decisions is a top priority. We must be open to discussing and then selecting the best way forward but taking people with us in decision making is important. I look forward to these discussions and am eager to attend the meeting to which the candidates have been invited to ensure Tauranga residents have representation and ensure that the best ideas are at the table with robust research of all options,” says Houghton.

“The second factor is a huge concern. It is deeply concerning that anyone in leadership uses the literary tools that ACT has used referring to Anne Tolley, “Off with her head” it is poor judgment and would not win votes for the sensible people of Tauranga.”

Sue Grey.

NZ Outdoors & Freedom Party's candidate Sue Grey says lack of checks and balances on power has been a long standing problem in New Zealand that former Prime Minister and lawyer Sir Geoffrey Palmer wrote about in "Unbridled Power".

“Our representatives also generally have a poor understanding of the obligations of representing us, rather than pushing their own views,” says Grey.

“The problem is particularly bad in Tauranga where many feel that a small cartel has far too much influence and most people are excluded from key decisions.

“Nobody seems to be asking important questions about the optimal future growth for Tauranga and where new development should occur. Many feel that developers are dictating without considering what size city the people of Tauranga want, and how this should be achieved to make it the best possible place to live where all residents can thrive.”

Grey says Tauranga needs a coherent plan that inspires the people and where projects get completed in a timely way.

“Let's find some visionary yet common sense solutions get the cones off the roads and movement freed up.

“The very strong message I'm hearing is that the people of Tauranga are frustrated, disillusioned and in some cases angry about the lack of democracy. People want to feel that their voice is important and they are being listened to by their representatives.”

She says that she has been invited to a meeting with the Commissioners this coming Monday afternoon and will attend to listen to better understand their perspective.

“Central government has forgotten what democracy means.

“One example was the conspiracy between every one of our 120 elected representatives to refuse to speak to or meet with the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who travelled to Wellington for the recent Occupation of Parliament. This was clear evidence that not a single one of them are fit to represent the people.

“A second example that shows disrespect for the people of Tauranga is the reappointment of the Commissioners ahead of the scheduled 2022 Council elections

“The great majority of the public oppose the "Three Waters" nationalisation of our drinking water, sewage and stormwater, yet the government appointed Commissioners support it. The obvious inference is that the extremely well paid Commissioners appointed by Minister Nanaia Mahuta are beholden to the government and so are not independent.”

Andrew Hollis.

New Nation Party candidate Andrew Hollis is accusing the commissioner of “arrogance” in saying that the candidates are out of touch.

“Chairman Tolley has the arrogant audacity to accuse some by-election candidates of being out of touch,” says Hollis.

“Yet, with the same arrogance, detached from reality, she and her unelected team propose to extend our port.

“How will extending the port benefit the about 80 per cent of our constituents who are either annuitants or dependent upon benefit.

“As she echoes the appalling disconnection that our national government has with the people, she shows disdain for the very people she was tasked to manage, care for and nurture.

“With equal disconnection our commissioners want to divert heavy traffic along SH29 in a blatant attempt to provide a solution that is staggering in its inefficiency. Rather than extending the journey to Auckland at an increased cost they will never have to bear, why do they not lobby their Wellington masters to widen all arteries into our city and upgrade the 60 year old bridges in Hairini and Maungatapu.

“By acting to extend our rail network they would not only speed goods from the port to the hinterland, they would provide significant relief to our hard-pressed roads. Do they know that every large truck creates (according to the AA) 16 times more damage to a road then that inflicted by a family car.”

Hollis says that “as our out of touch commissioners cry “but we must do something about the increasing numbers coming to live in Tauranga” my answer is act for your rate paying constituents; persuade the central government to allow you to hold an increase in residents and provide urgent funding to extend the rail and road network”.

“Such a solution will hasten our port goods traffic and create greater freedom on the roads which would, ultimately, allow us to reopen Tauranga to new residents.

“But today, instead of acting in the best interests of their constituents, this out of touch quartet prefers to follow the dictation of their incompetent masters but then the Labour Party has never been in touch with this great city. If they had an ounce of decency and compassion for their constituents, the four commissioners would resign forthwith and recommend urgent democratic elections to their beehive boss,” says Hollis.

Key dates for the Tauranga by-election:

Tuesday, May 17: Candidate nominations closed at noon. Twelve by-election candidates have been announced.

Wednesday, June 1: Overseas voting starts.

Saturday, June 4: Advance voting starts.

Saturday, June 18: Election day. Voting closes at 7pm. Preliminary results will be announced later that night.

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Posted on 23-05-2022 10:34 | By Kancho

A figure of speech and humorous off the cuff remark has been re-interpreted by these woke snowflakes quite laughable. Particularly Jan Tinetti that she seriously thinks this was a serious threatening remark and we should vote for someone who thnks it was!

Tolley is out of touch.

Posted on 20-05-2022 12:44 | By TheCameltoeKid

So a "tongue in cheek" comment is taken seriously. The person who’s out of touch is Tolley and the rest of her Commisioners. She’s a Labour Party stooge planted by Mahuta to spout Labour policy and make excuses for their failures in Tauranga. If it wasn’t for this Labour/Greens debacle canceling our roads the Norther Arterial Route would nearly be finished. Instead the city is at gridlock. At least the successful candidate will be elected to enable the views of Tauranga’s constituents unlike Tolley.

We said Cameron

Posted on 19-05-2022 13:07 | By Kancho

A humorous comment but actually accurate. She isn’t an elected person nor a local but a labour government plant to spout out support of labours policies. She should stand as a candidate for her position otherwise keep her nose out of an election and out of the trough

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