Mt Albert electorate left to the left wing parties to fight it out

Mt Albert electorate candidates Geoff Simmons, Jacinda Adern and Julie Anne Genter.

Mt Albert electorate candidates Geoff Simmons, Jacinda Adern and Julie Anne Genter.

Given no obvious right wing candidate, there were few glaring policy differences separating three Mt Albert by-election candidates at a Wednesday night debate.

In a setting straight out of a Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Labour's Jacinda Ardern, the Green's Julie Anne Genter and The Opportunities Party's (TOP) Geoff Simmons made their pitch at sack-cloth draped Satya Indian restaurant in Sandringham.

Mt Albert, long considered a safe Labour seat, was vacated when former Labour leader David Shearer left Parliament.

National didn't stand a candidate.

* Gareth Morgan's party takes 1st shot at seat
* National shys away from Mt Albert race
* Left battles it out for Mt Albert

Hosted by The Spinoff and moderated by Auckland commentator, journalist Simon Wilson, the candidates started with a quick-fire electorate quiz before moving on to serious questions.

All the candidates support greater spending on Auckland public transport and infrastructure and tackling housing unaffordability.

Where policy differences existed were on how to get there.

Simmons said baby boomer housing speculation was "bankrupting the country" and TOP would slap a capital gains tax on the family home while cutting taxes.

Adern was adamant her party wouldn't apply capital gains to family homes.

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Genter said Auckland's lack of housing supply couldn't be solved by zoning changes and the "public sector" needed to lead housing construction.

Simmons wants land-banking incentives removed to free-up land supply.

The clearest policy difference, cannabis reform, saw Adern support medical marijuana use while keeping recreational use illegal while Genter backed medical and "responsible recreational use".

Speaking to Mt Albert specific issues Adern said, apart from housing affordability, she wanted to fix the electorate's school overcrowding and shops.

Genter said her transport and housing experience made her a "good choice for Mt Albert".

Simmons, though, had the last word.

"Elect me, I'm the only one not in already in Parliament".

 - Stuff

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