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High cost of living big issue for Chatham Island voters

Nov 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features, News

MONEY is on the minds of Chatham Island voters.

Freight costs and the high living costs are big issues for residents who answered the phone on the island when NewsWire called.

The seven islanders spoken to were Alan Harvey, Shane Goomes, Andre Day, Glenise Day, Monique Croon, Loretta Ryan and Shirley, who asked that her last name not be used.

NewsWire asked to following questions: Were they going to vote this weekend; did they felt adequately represented in their electorate; what would you like to see the government focus on in the Chathams; and what issues are affecting them the most?

Last election only 40 percent of those on the electoral roll voted so we asked the Chatham Islands public whether they were going to vote this weekend.

Alan “hopes” he will. “I have got the election paper here and haven’t even looked at it and haven’t had any time.”

Shane hasn’t even had a voting paper. “So I don’t even think I am on the voting roll.”

Shirley will vote. “I think everybody should vote then we have everyone getting a say and you can’t moan if you don’t vote.”

Andre says he forgot about it and (he) “can’t be bothered.”

Glenise says she is ready for a change this election. “I would like to have some more oomph back in parliament for change.”

Monique says she will vote to support the local MP Annette King. “She has been a wonderful MP for us.”

Monique says looking at the parties she will probably vote National. “They have been able to understand the Chathams and are also looking at ways to help to solve our problems.”

Loretta will vote because “I could sit and complain or I could do something about it”.

The Chatham Islanders were asked if they felt adequately represented in their electorate.

“We have been adequately ripped off, so yeah we are not,” says Allan. “They do make a lot of appearances here (the ministers) but it is only face value.”

Shane says no, but Shirley is happy with the representation.

“Well yes I suppose we are because we don’t have people coming over that often. I don’t know when we had an electoral roll person come here.”

Andre says he guesses so but he wasn’t sure who the electorate representative is.

Glenise says they had a recent visit from Annette King and Chris Finlayson visited twice this year. “I didn’t realise he was the candidate for National representing our electorate until I got a letter in the mail today.”

She says the island doesn’t get to see many politicians from National. “It is crazy that we don’t know who they even are, Annette King seems to be the only on that comes here.

She also believes Chris Finlayson had been to the Chatham Islands on issues relating to treaty settlements.

Monique says is happy with the representation, and Loretta agrees but says there is always room for improvement.

Nigel Ryan, a Chatham Islands councillor, says because of the small population sometimes it feels like their vote does not really count.

“We have access to all necessary things. I think we are well represented when we need it,” he says.

Freight, power and living costs were the main themes in response to the question: “What would you like to see the government focus on in the Chathams?”

Alan says he would like to see them focus on what they have not for focused on “for about a generation”.

“What they have actually done is taken all the money off the Chatham Islands and never put much back,” says Alan.

“For instance there is an issue about stock (sheep and cattle deaths). With the shipping there is a lot of sheep and cattle get shipped off to New Zealand from the Chatham islands and there is a concern about it because there are a few of them that die actually in transit.

“There is a concern about it and MAF actually say that we should have an abattoir here but they don’t know anything about it, they don’t know the cost of doing these sorts of things.”

Shane says the cost of power should be something the new government focuses on as well as the cost of freight.

“We are quite dependent on freight and the cost of it so I think the government need to look at that.”

Shirley agrees, saying the government should help out with the freight rates on the boats that are servicing the island.

She says she would also like them help us with the cost of their power. “We have a generator run from the local power station and we pay three times as much for our power as those of you in New Zealand.”

Andre says he is not sure. “I don’t really get into much of that political stuff. I don’t even vote.”

Glenise says the island’s deserve more than they are getting considering the amount they contribute to in the fishing industry.

“It is huge revenue that the government receive from fish and crayfish leaving the island. We don’t get anywhere near half of it back.”

Monique says: “We know what the solution is we just need a parcel of money to help us achieve that.”

Loretta says the government should look into being energy efficient or the issues around living costs on the island. “Our power bill is around $400 to $500 a month.”

Similar themes came up in response to a what issues are affecting them the most?

Alan says hasn’t paid attention to the government or even the country’s current affairs. “I am too busy myself to be concerned about it.”

For Shane, the biggest issue facing him would be the cost of living.

Shirley says affecting her right now would be the freight rates coming to and from the island.

Andre’s concern was similar: “The price of power, diesel, fuel and food.”

Glenise says most of the issues are around freight, shipping and roading. “Our council does very well with the Transport Minister with lobbying and things like that. But there is always more room for funding to help with these issues.”

Monique says there is a lack of funding in the infrastructure sector including the wharf and the airport.

Loretta says our freight costs and our diesel cost and our power cost and our food costs

Nigel says the council has several projects like a new wharf that are being talked about. “We would like to see more tar seal on our roads, although we don’t have a large population.”


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