Mayoral Debate on ‘Sport’ Monday 16 August 2010 NZ Herald coverage
Super City hopefuls aired their sport credentials in Albany tonight with promises of free swimming pool access and a marine park in Hobson Bay.
Representatives from 33 different sports – ranging from curling to rugby – turned out to hear six of the Super City candidates speak.
Candidates were asked three set questions including how important they viewed sport, their solution to limited resources, and their funding policy.
The evening was hosted by sport broadcaster Doug Golightly who told the 150 people in the audience: “It is an undeniable fact that must not be side-stepped, sport is an election issue.”
Manukau Mayor Len Brown said he would like to roll out Manukau’s policy of free entry to public pools.
After the debate he told nzherald.co.nz that free admission to pools such as Auckland’s tepid baths and Parnell baths would take about 18 months to put into practice.
Mr Brown said all school children in years four and five should get free swimming lessons.
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Asked how Auckland would pay for it, Mr Brown said: “People are always going to throw at you the affordability issue and we have done a lot of work. It is not cost effective to elicit a charge”.
He said pools in Manukau have calculated that they lose between 50 and 60 per cent of their patronage if they charge users.
Mr Brown said swimming was part of creating a healthy and active generation.
Auckland City Mayor John Banks said sport keeps kids out of court.
“Sports facilities are a critical building block of a healthy, active city,” Mr Banks said.
He also promised to turn Hobson Bay into a marine park and an international rowing course.
After the debate, he said the 1912 concrete pipeline in the bay was almost destroyed but further work on the rubbish was needed.
“Around the cliffs, it is littered like a rubbish tip,” Mr Banks said.
He said instead of the mangroves and rubbish, he would like to see a boardwalk.
Mr Banks said the bay should be used by rowing clubs across Auckland to save them driving hours to and from Lake Karapiro in the Waikato.
Asked why Takapuna’s Lake Pupuke could not be used instead, Mr Banks said he had not thought about Lake Pupuke.
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said he was proud of North Shore’s record in sport.
“Something like a third of the Commonwealth Games team that went to Melbourne either lived or trained here,” Mr Williams said.
He also paid tribute to the thousands of volunteers that give up their time every week in coaching and administration.
Pro-smacking campaigner Colin Craig said sport hinges on participation and must be sustainable.
“We can’t do the Olympic Games,” Mr Craig said.
He said the basketball world junior championships hosted by Auckland was great for the city and was televised in 140 countries.
Mr Craig also advocated for a sports coordination centre as part of the new Super City council. He said the centre would coordinate assets and facilities “that are already there”.
“We will coordinate things better but we won’t break things that are working,” Mr Craig said.
Actor Simon Prast said he had a sporting background which included having All Black Graham Henry as a PE teacher.
“The whole Super City is about building team Auckland and electing a captain of team Auckland,” Mr Prast said.
He said as Super City mayor, he would set up 12 portfolios, one of which would be dedicated to sport.
“I put my hand up because, with all due respect, I couldn’t vote for any of them,” Mr Prast said.
He was interrupted by Mr Williams who said: “You haven’t read my pamphlets”.
Mr Prast responded: “Sadly, Andrew, I have. I’ve read all your pamphlets”.
Water campaigner Penny Bright said she was opposed to the Super City which was all about commercialisation, including sport. She pleaded to voters to register a protest vote and vote for her.
All candidates except Mr Williams, agreed to create a sports specific role within their Mayoral office. Mr Williams said it was an “interesting idea” and he would give it further thought.
By Edward Gay | Email Edward
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