The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

‘I’m public’s watchdog’ says Bright : By PJ TAYLOR (Howick and Pakuranga Times) Thursday, 10 February 2011

Front Page Feature
‘I’m public’s watchdog’ says Bright

Thursday, 10 February 2011

SUSTAINABLE: Penny Bright sifting through old placards to be recycled for her by-election campaign. Times photo PJ Taylor
SUSTAINABLE: Penny Bright sifting through old placards to be recycled for her by-election campaign. Times photo PJ Taylor

• Howick and Pakuranga Times

SHE’S packed in a lot politically in her 56 years, but a former welding inspector has never stood for Parliament  – until now.

Penny Bright, one of Auckland’s most colourful political activists, is compelled to join the race to replace Pansy Wong as the next MP for Botany.

As is her style, she’s going it alone, without the support of party machinery and money.

“What do the voters of Botany want? A proven party hack, who will follow the party line, or a fiercely independent proven public watchdog, who has a track record of defending the public and public interest, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Ms Bright was one of 22 candidates in last year’s Auckland mayoral poll and has stood in a by-election before, for a vacant Auckland City Council seat in the Avondale ward in 2000.

Running on the anti-privatisation of water platform for the Water Pressure Group, she trailed second to Noelene Raffills of Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) by a few hundred votes.

That by-election was emotive. Mrs Raffills was standing for the first time for public office and trying to retain the seat her late husband Phil Raffills held for C&R until his death a few months earlier.

Through her leadership of the Water Pressure Group, Ms Bright believes she’s contributed to Manukau matters, being a strong voice for retaining public ownership of water and its related infrastructure, and the waste-water system, during several terms of the old Manukau City Council.

“I ask for the people of Botany, irrespective of ethnicity, race or political persuasion, to give me a chance to act as a public watchdog from inside Parliament,” says Ms Bright.

“You have a chance to give this Government the clear message that the public majority don’t want any more privatisation, and we don’t want corruption or corrupt practices.

“Give this Government the clear message that you believe in open, transparent and democratically accountable local and central government.

“There should be full disclosure of interests of both elected representatives, and council and government staff responsible for property and procurement.”

The respect that’s held for Ms Bright’s knowledge of the water industry has led to her representation for New Zealand at the World Water Forum in Kyoto in 2003. She’s also attended Australia’s Public Service Sector Anti-Corruption Conference in 2009 and the 14th Transparency International Conference in Thailand last year.

Ms Bright’s grass-roots political activism started in her home Wairarapa province when she set up a branch of Halt All Racist Tours (Hart) in the 1970s. She moved to Auckland in 1981 to be part of the organisation for the anti-Springboks tour protests.

“I was one of those labelled a subversive in ex-Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s SIS report, which attempted to discredit the anti-tour movement.”

She’s had a mistrust of the public service and how it’s managed ever since, and has a pop at consultants and contractors employed to do the work of central and local government.

“Get rid of all those piggies in the middle with their snouts in our public troughs. Bring back the Ministry of Works and council works departments.”

Penny Bright has a Botany by-election public meeting “with solutions” at Botany Downs Secondary College, on Sunday, February 13. It runs from 3-5pm.


February 10, 2011 - Posted by | Botany By-election 2011, Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting water privatisation in NZ, Transparency in Govt spending

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