In last month’s column, I talked about the importance of our environment. We are squandering our unique natural heritage. Only the Green Party will clean up our rivers, conserve our native forests and prevent the loss of more endangered species. We also need to make our cities sustainable.
Transport is crucial. To solve congestion, we need to offer Aucklanders frequent, convenient and affordable alternatives to driving their car. The Greens have a vision of a modern, integrated transport network for Auckland. Connected up networks of buses, trains, light rail, ferries, safe cycling and walking will get our city moving again and improve the quality of life.
The government needs to become a real partner in achieving this vision. For too long, the government has put obstacles in the way of investment in the City Rail Link and other projects. The government’s spending plans are dominated by more roads, which will just push the congestion somewhere else.
The Greens will start by working with Auckland Council to get rail to the airport in time for the America’s Cup defence. We will switch spending away from roads to transport alternatives. This will not only reduce congestion, but it will benefit tourism and our economy, health and our urban environment, and reduce our climate emissions. The Greens will also close the gaps between the haves and have-nots. I have heard Aucklanders from all walks of life, including business leaders, saying that we should not allow kids to go hungry or sleep in cars. Currently, too many children are lacking the basics, getting sick from damp homes and missing out on a decent education. Our safety net is ripped and we need to repair it.
It is time for us to step up to this challenge. The Greens will set targets to end child poverty and ensure everyone has enough income and a warm, dry home. It is affordable and it will be in all of our interests over the longer term. We also need to take better care of our elderly. I have been leading an inquiry on aged care, and we have seen too many cases of neglect, long waiting times for operations and elder abuse. The Greens will ensure that our elders be treated with respect and dignity.
Auckland could be one of the world’s great cities. Let’s step up to that challenge. You can choose to support the Greens at the election coming up on 23 September. Vote Green Party!
Barry Coates is a Green Party Member of Parliament and candidate in the Epsom electorate.
Barry Coates MP, Green Party