Jacinda Ardern stepping down as Prime Minister has set up an intriguing lead-up to the election, Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown says.
Local government will be keenly awaiting the outcome of the election to give them direction for the next three years, Brown said.
The election will be taking place in the middle of the council’s long-term plan process.
As the council discussed in December, Brown said they are faced with preparing two versions of the long-term plan to cover the potential election outcomes.
He said the current planning with Labour in power is for Three Waters assets and management to pass from the council to the new centralised entities in July next year, but National has stated it will repeal the legislation if it comes into power.
While he may not have agreed with some of her policy decisions, Brown said Ardern has done “an alright job” in what has been a tumultuous tenure with terror attacks, extreme weather events, volcanic eruptions and a global pandemic.
“She’s had a tough last three years under Covid and has performed well guiding us through as best she could.”
Brown said the Ashburton District has benefited under Ardern, receiving $20m in funding for the new Civic Centre and Library Te Pātaka a kā Tuhituhi and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka, the Walnut Avenue intersection upgrade, and the pending Tinwald corridor upgrade.
Ardern was also in town back in 2019 to announce the $60m rebuild of Ashburton College, the day before the mosque shootings in Christchurch.
Election date set
The election will take place on October 14.
Rangitata MP Jo Luxton is yet to confirm if she will be standing for her seat this year for Labour.
In 2020, Luxton did what no other Labour candidate before her had managed to, turn the former National stronghold of the Rangitata electorate, which takes in Ashburton and Timaru, from blue to red.
Luxton, or a new Labour candidate, will be up against National’s James Meager.
With an election date set, Meager, who was announced as the National candidate in September, said National will be focused on running a strong campaign “on the issues that matter”.
“Here in Rangitata, and around the country, that means addressing the cost of living crisis and delivering a strong economy,” he said.
Other political parties are yet to announce candidates in Rangitata.
National party leader Christopher Luxon has offered Ardern thanks for her service following her announcement to stand down.
“She has given her all to this incredibly demanding job and I wish her and her family all the very best for the future,” Luxon said.
Those sentiments were echoed by National’s Rangitata candidate, James Meager.
“You have to respect the dedication it takes to do a role like that so I’d like to wish Jacinda all the best for the future and thank her for her service to New Zealand.”
- By Jonathan Leask