Left to right: Geoff Simmons, Jacinda Ardern, Julie Ann Genter, warriors in the Mt Albert by-election of 2017

The War for Mt Albert: The Great Spinoff By-election Candidates’ Debate

Jacinda Ardern, Julie Anne Genter and Geoff Simmons meet to do battle at our special live-streamed debate this Wednesday at 7pm. Will they wave the white flag or fight on to the death?

Why vote for Jacinda when you can choose Julie Anne? Or maybe that should be the other way round. Why vote for either now the lively economist Geoff Simmons has joined the fun? He’s standing for Gareth Morgan’s TOP party. But wait, should these people even be in different parties? And what do they all think about Willie Jackson?

There really is no end to the excitement of the Mt Albert by-election.

The Spinoff is Facebook streaming a special candidates’ debate, 7pm this Wednesday, 15 February. They say they’re friends and all that, but each one of these candidates needs a really good showing or they will hurt their party’s chances in the general election in September. But they also need to show they can work together.

So, how do these candidates view the whole identity politics v class politics thing? How are those plans to rejuvenate their caucuses going? Are Labour and the Greens same but different and if so what does that even mean? Does TOP believe a word of it?

Left to right: Geoff Simmons, Jacinda Ardern, Julie Anne Genter

And there are the big issues. Everyone’s going to solve the housing crisis, but how? The need for more emergency housing and social housing is not the same as the need for a better deal for first-home buyers or the needs of people who already own property – so can all those interests be reconciled? What do they really think should happen to transport in the city with 800 more cars every week? Is the school system broken or just parts of it? What does a progressive policy on immigration look like and who’s got one anyway?

The Unitary Plan impacts Mt Albert in a big way. Is everyone comfortable with what it’s going to mean?

Meanwhile, the government has delivered strong growth and low inflation, both of which mean more opportunities for more New Zealanders. Why would a centre-left coalition be better? The government has a quiet revolution underway in social policy, targeting help where it can really make a difference. Is it working? Can it work? Would a coalition of opposition parties build on it or go back to the old way of doing things or is there a third option?

As for that coalition, the arrangement between Labour and the Greens might be the least of their worries. Who would work with TOP, and who would TOP work with? What about Winston? What about the Maori and Mana parties?

This will be an agenda-setting debate among candidates who are all senior members of their own parties. We’ll be focused on the biggest question for all of them: Is the centre-left fit to govern?

The Great Spinoff Mt Albert By-election Candidates’ Debate: Streaming live on Facebook, Wednesday 15 February at 7pm. Facebook.com/TheSpinoffTV

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