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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 08:50 pm

Wellington voters unimpressed with Conservative comments on poverty

Sep 19th, 2014 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS: Conservative candidate Gordon Copeland received criticism for his opinions about poverty in South Auckland

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS: Conservative candidate Gordon Copeland received criticism for his opinions about poverty in South Auckland IMAGE: newsroom.co.nz

SHOUTS of indignation greeted Conservative Party candidate Gordon Copeland at a Wellington meeting this week when he suggested alcoholism was the cause of poverty in South Auckland.

Mr Copeland said drug and alcohol addiction, and family breakdown are responsible for poverty when he addressed an election meeting on inequality.

“I found it deeply offensive when Gordon Copeland said go and look at South Auckland, alcohol’s the problem,” said Kerry Tankard after the meeting at Connolly Hall in Thorndon on Tuesday night.

“He has no idea how hard people work to keep a roof over their head,” said the former Wellingtonian, who now lives in Hamilton East.

In response to a question from the floor about what the Conservatives would do about child poverty, Mr Copeland said single parent families contributed to the issue, and they would also close down liquor stores.

“I’m offended that noboby seems to think that alcoholism is a problem. You only need to look at South Auckland.”

James Shaw of the Greens was applauded for his response to Mr Copeland’s comments.

“Alcoholism is a symptom of poverty, not the cause,” he said.

Mr Shaw and Labour candidate Grant Robertson were generally well received and more than one audience member singled them out for praise after the event.

Nick Ruane of Brooklyn said he felt Mr Shaw and Mr Robertson were passionate and relatable, which is what he was looking for in the candidates.

Candidates pushed policy during their speeches and party lines were toed, which audience members said they expected.

“In a way they were quite predictable,” said Judith Hatton of Thorndon.

All those asked for reaction at the end of the debate said they thought the candidates had spoken well.

“In general I think they all represented their policies very well, whether I agreed with them or not,” said Damon Rusden of Newtown.

Journalist Max Rashbrook, who chaired the meeting, said inequality had become one of New Zealand’s main social issues in the last 30 years.

When questioned about the possibility of cross- party cooperation in tackling inequality, candidates from Labour, Greens and Internet/Mana said they would not work with a National government on the issue.

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services hosted the event and co- organiser Paul Barber says he was pleased to see the candidates engaging with the issues of poverty and inequality.

“I’m really happy with tonight, it was a really good night, good turnout, lots of good questions,” he said.

NOT CONVINCED: Several of those who attended said they were disappointed with comments made by Mr Copeland

NOT CONVINCED: Several of those who attended said they were disappointed with comments made by Mr Copeland IMAGE: Tess Nichol

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