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July 15, 2019 | by  | in HUMDINGERS News |
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“Representation”: Victoria Rhodes-Carlin Is Running For Greater Wellington Regional Council

Victoria’s concerns about the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and her vision to resolve them were clear from the outset of her interview— the vision is of a connected, inclusive, and accessible Wellington region.

 

This is reflected in her key policy concerns: fair and accessible public transport, ambitious climate action, and community-driven decision-making.

 

A seat on the regional council, would give Vic a good opportunity to bring her vision to life, with its area of responsibility and influence (from Kapiti to Island Bay) around running public transport, environmental regulation, and the regional economy.

 

While acknowledging the work of the local authorities on issues like transport and the environment so far, she says we’re “not quite there”.

 

Victoria wants to get the region the rest of the way there. 

 

Climate Change

As a key environmental and transport authority in the area, Victoria sees a lot of opportunity to develop environmental policy with GWRC.

While she acknowledged the work done already converting to electric buses and emissions reduction targets, Vic thinks there’s more to be done. 

 

She wants to make the policies more ambitious. She pointed out that with “essentially ten years to significantly lower our emissions”, the council needs to strengthen its emission reduction targets. She suggested a goal of up to 20% methane reduction by 2030, more than the current 10% target.

 

She also pointed to transport and agriculture as key areas to deal with emissions. They make up 60% and 30% of the region’s emissions profile, respectively. 

 

On agriculture, she would push for better support of Wairarapa farmers to transition to less methane-intense practices. As for transport emissions—the planned electric busses, mass transit, and light rail are possible answers for Victoria. 

 

Public Transport

Unsurprisingly for any Wellington local, there are a number of other issues around public transport that Victoria wants to address. 

 

Central to Victoria’s goals for a functioning public transport system in the region are the principles of inclusivity and accessibility. Using the Eastern Suburbs as an illustration of an area that needs big changes (60% of residents commute by car), she argued that public transport needs to be fair, accessible, and easy to use before it people will begin using it. 

 

Part of this, to Victoria, is the acknowledgement of the needs of different groups and finding a way to work those needs together. She contrasted discussions she’s had with people in both Mount Victoria and Miramar; the former wants a more pedestrian city, while the latter wants a larger highway for a faster commute. 

 

“We have to make sure public transport is not excluding people from transport they need to use.”

 

Her solution to these differing perspectives? Use community-driven consultation; particularly consulting with existing groups, to determine the best policies for the region as a whole. 

 

When it comes to specific policies, Victoria is committed to making access to low-income groups easier. Following a VUWSA campaign to reduce tertiary bus fees by 25%, Victoria wants to get that down to 50%—a change she considers feasible and important.

 

Mental Health

Mental health is one of the issues that Victoria says pushed her to run for council. 

 

An essential problem in the region, to her, is a relatively simple one: “not enough services”. To reduce harm from mental illness, Victoria wants to push for better-funded services with shorter waitlists. 

 

After this “first step”, the solutions become broader, although she insists, still tangible. To Victoria, the next steps for Wellington would be developing an environment where people can “be involved, can contribute, and be valued in the future of our region”. 

 

The Regional Council is not primarily responsible for the administration of healthcare in the region; that task falls to the District Health Board. Fortunately, Vic pointed out that a number of the regional councillors also sit on the DHB, providing opportunities for collaboration on mental health. 

 

Waitangi

When asked about working with tangata whenua in the region, Victoria took a two-pronged approach: although believing in the need for “greater involvement of mana whenua” with the regional council, she asserted that “that’s their decision to make”.

 

Echoing this, she emphasised Te Tiriti o Waitangi: “one of the most important things that local body and the council should be doing is honouring Te Tiriti.” 

 

She even implied an aspiration to go “above and beyond” the usual bounds of the Treaty Partnership.

 

Transparency on the Council

Victoria was clear about her concerns to resolve GWRC’s history of secret voting. As a form of representative democracy, she called the practice a “disgrace” and told Salient she understood it was “a bit of an old boys’ club”.

 

Committed to eliminate private voting, she said “transparency and accountability is one of the core things I’ve been concerned about.”

 

The Campaign

Not confined to national elections, local authority candidates often run on behalf of political parties. When probed about her decision to run independently, Victoria stood her ground, saying she wants her campaign to be more than just party politics, rather for it to be “about the issues that directly affect the region” without introducing party polarisation. 

 

“You put a colour with your face and that instantly puts people off.”

 

To The Haters

Wrapping up her interview, Victoria talked about those who would suggest she’s too inexperienced to work on the regional council. Far from it being a barrier, Vic considers it an asset—“I have the unique life experience of a young person in Wellington… [It’s] important that’s brought to the table.”

 

And if she loses, she won’t be quitting. Despite a possible Masters after graduation at the end of this year, Victoria said she’ll be making sure to hold councillors to account the whole way through.

 

More Stuff:

Full interviews available online. Keep an eye on the Salient website and Facebook page.

Look up *Victoria Rhodes-Carlin for Greater Wellington Regional Council* on Facebook for updates and more info.

*Young Matt Show*: Discussing the candidate of the week every Monday, 6–8 p.m. http://salient.org.nz/fm/ 

*Salient TV*: Promo-ing the candidate of the week every Thursday. www.facebook.com/salientmagazine/

*Enrol for elections at https://vote.nz/ or at the VUWSA offices.

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