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National’s war on Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 12:57 pm, March 14th, 2013 - 49 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, Gerry Brownlee, len brown, local government, public transport, transport - Tags: , , , ,

phil twyfordPhil Twyford is the Labour MP for Te Atatu, and Labour’s spokesperson on Housing and Auckland Issues. He is also asking the same questions that many Aucklanders keep asking as they watch a succession of government ministers trying to valiantly advance backwards into Auckland’s past with no obvious purpose. 

When the new Housing Minister comes to Auckland and says the Mayor is killing the dream of home ownership, and planning regulations have a stranglehold on the city it is always going to grab the headlines.

Nick Smith is just the latest General sent north by the Government to quell restless natives over the Bombay Hills, and Aucklanders are getting used to it.  Murray McCully, Steven Joyce, and Gerry Brownlee have all had a go.

Why does the Government seem to be at war with Auckland?

And why, after all the effort that went into creating the super city so Auckland could speak with one voice, does the Government not want to hear what Auckland is saying?

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee took a similar take no prisoners approach in December when he poured cold water on the Central City Future Access Study, commissioned by Auckland Council to address former Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s concerns about the City Rail Link.

Brownlee’s own transport officials did much of the work on the study which confirmed the City Rail Link as preferred option and predicted without it the city’s traffic would slow to walking pace by 2031.

In the House Brownlee likened the City Rail Link, supported by 63-64% of Aucklanders according to the last two polls, to the ill-fated monorail project on The Simpsons.

You are always going to get differing views on projects like these but what is extraordinary is the gulf that has opened up between the Government on the one hand and Auckland’s Council and public opinion on the other.

On the defining issues in our country’s biggest city: how to fix the gridlock and the compact city v sprawl, the Government and Auckland are at loggerheads.

Len Brown and the Auckland Council want to build the City Rail Link and invest aggressively in public transport. The Government opposes the CRL and has not initiated a single new public transport project in four years.

The Mayor and Council want to build up and out, balancing greenfields development with intensification. The Government wants to smash the city limits and roll out new suburbs deep into the countryside.

It is easy politics to point out that on those two vital issues Ministers from the South Island are trying to run Auckland from their offices in Wellington.

This sense of an Auckland v central government stoush is heightened by the fact that three of the National Party’s closest allies have publicly sided with Len Brown and the Auckland Council on the issues of public transport and the compact city.

Before Christmas Conor English, the Finance Minister’s brother and CEO of Federated Farmers, called for an end to sprawl, saying Auckland needed to invest in public transport and grow up not out.

And in the Herald, the Chamber of Commerce and the Employers and Manufacturers Association, set out a comprehensive case for Auckland’s transport aspirations including building the City Rail Link as a matter of priority.

It is fair to say that Len Brown has won the argument on transport. First he won an electoral mandate. Then he convinced the normally National-aligned Auckland business establishment to back his transport agenda and not the Government’s.

That it looks increasingly likely the Mayor may not face a serious challenger from the Right in elections only seven months away is another indication Brown has the public on his side.

While it is tempting to see the Government’s falling out with Auckland as party political, that from National’s perspective the wrong guy won the mayoralty, I think it is more complicated than that.

At its heart this debate is about the role of government in building successful cities. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance that preceded the amalgamation, and then the Auckland Plan, tap into a rich vein of international thinking on the importance of cities in today’s economic map.

If cities are going to harvest prosperity from the concentration of people, businesses and creativity then they need active government intervention to deliver public transport systems, affordable housing and a planned, balanced approach to managing growth.

National does not buy that. They are more comfortable with motorways, sprawl and the hands-off approach to urban development that we’ve had since the 1950s.

Until this argument is resolved, and we have central and local government pulling together, it is going to be difficult for Auckland to make the progress we all hope for.

lprent: I haven’t had time to locate the links to make this less static, if someone cares to locate some, then I will add them into the post.

49 comments on “National’s war on Auckland”

  1. Bunji 1

    You can see why Fed Farmers doesn’t want sprawl – it’s productive farmland that’ll get eaten up. But you’d think National, with their economy bets on dairy paying our way to fortunes (that and a lucky oil strike), wouldn’t want to be limiting the land farmers can do that dairying on…

    It doesn’t make sense to constantly be building more roads, drains, sewers, water-pipes, electricity cables, libraries, swimming pools, … etc further and further away, and make people drive further and further to work. That does not create affordable housing.

    Affordable housing includes affordable transport. National’s plan to anti-democratically legislate over the Auckland Council is a definite War on Auckland.

    They’ve done it to Canterbury, but taking on 1/3 of the population might be too big a bite. I see the Council’s already had some suggestions for them.

    Up not out!

    (Good press release too from Phil re: Nick Smith’s dodgy statistic use to push unafforadable housing)

    • Bunji 1.1

      One might make comment on National wanting to limit the Council charging all those increased costs to Developers… Meaning ratepayers pick up the tab.

      Another of National’s stealth taxes (like on paper boys, car parks, mobile phones, laptops and even food vouchers).

      • Tom Gould 1.1.1

        The Tories have been desperately casting around for a candidate to run against Len, and they are simply trying to set up issues for their ‘horse’ once they find one. Of course, having a couple of South Islanders trying to run Auckland from Wellington is ‘not a good look’ and an insult to Aucklanders.

    • Wayne 1.2

      Fed Farmers are wrong. There is very little farming in Dairy Flat, Whitford, around Kumeu, etc. These are now virtually all lifestyle blocks. Now that has to be an inefficent use of land, since there is precious little farming on them. At least some parts of these areas (but not all) could be used for urban development. I know the proposed plan has 60% of new development in the existing urban area and 40% on greenfields. Maybe a 50/50 mix might be better.

      There is a lot of resistance to the proposed Milford development, and too much densification will mean more resistance of locals to what they see as the destruction of their neighbourhood. People will buy into some increase in density (say 4/5 stories), but they are pretty oppossed to 8 or more.

      • ad 1.2.1

        10 years of the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy have shown us that.
        Not that I like Nick Smith but he was right yesterday to point out that planners can get awfully aspirational when it comes to density yields in Auckland. Having said that at least they were prepared to form a target and get full buy-in from all Auckland’s regional leaders at the time. Unlike National. Weak as the RGS was, it looks postiviely prison-like to what is now proposed.

      • Ben Clark 1.2.2

        Your acceptable 4 stories along arterials for most places is what the council intends, with higher rise only in very particular places like Takapuna which already has some.

        Those 4 stories along main roads buy a huge amount of intensification, for not much change of character. London is is hugely denser than Auckland with only Canary Wharf really above 4 stories – I think the high rise worry is a red herring.

        That densification makes all those council amenities from PT to rubbish collection so much more affordable, and keeps developers costs down. It just makes sense.

        (The developer’s plans at Milford are awful to be fair, but that’s not the council’s plan…)

        • nthshoredoc 1.2.2.1

          Hi Ben

          With the proposed ‘densification’ on the Northshore can you advise how schools and other such amenities are supposed to cope ?

        • xtasy 1.2.2.2

          Ben Clark:

          “Those 4 stories along main roads buy a huge amount of intensification, for not much change of character. London is is hugely denser than Auckland with only Canary Wharf really above 4 stories – I think the high rise worry is a red herring.”

          See the NZ Herald article found by clicking the link that Phil also provided a bit further down this thread:

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10871592

          Up to 18 storeys in Takapuna, Henderson, New Lynn, Manukau and Botany, that is what the UP is going to make possible. So there are likely to be pockets of little “Manhattans” in various corners of Auckland. Other areas will allow up to 6 or 8 level buildings.

          Now, really, that is not a “red herring” to me, Ben.

          I can live with up to 4 levels in certain places, maybe also up to 6 levels. But anything higher is not needed and will only start turning Auckland into a ghastly looking place, where concrete and glass towers will be “polluting” the landscape.

          Such high rises should only be allowed in the CBD.

          Bring in policies and incentives to develop other centers and the regions, so migrants and NZers have jobs outside of Auckland. I am not against some densification, but it must be done in measures and not lead to turn Auckland into a Mega Metro city.

      • Ben Clark 1.2.3

        Oh, and those wealthy life-style farmers in Dairy Flat and Whitford – if you turn their low-productive farmland land into housing, they’ll just buy the next bit of farmland in Alfriston or Clevedon… you just push them a bit further out, still taking out highly productive farmland.

        The argument still holds…

      • lprent 1.2.4

        .. all lifestyle blocks. Now that has to be an inefficent use of land…

        Actually not. I guess you haven’t been on many of them.

        Most have stock. Many are grazed by local farmers and/or their neighbours. And many provide the resource basis of small craft industries.

        My parents used to run quite a thriving industry making speciality jackets between the time that they sort-of-retired from working and when they actually stopped working. I got to know quite a few of these smallholdings and was always amazed at what incomes were generated in them. Extremely hard to find that kind of home/work spaces in cities or suburbs where you can run screaming equipment. Or for programmers working from home departed from the continuous noise of the city.

        I suspect that if anyone actually did an economic analysis rather than dull-headed comments like yours, they’d find that the nett benefit to the countries economy far outweighs that of trying to farm.

        And of course if you add in the commuter costs of having housing (and bugger all industry) that far out, the massively increased costs to the economy just from imported fuel and vehicles alone are likely to far outweigh any benefits to either the country or Auckland. But of course the land-owners and developers don’t care about that – that is the local government’s role. National of course refuses to heed that and bow to their constituency every time.

        Of course the real point is that the land-bankers and developers will foist almost all of the facility development costs like sewerage, water, power, phones, roads etc onto the rest of Auckland through either rates or increased cross-charges. What should happen is that the land-banker and/or developer should pay all of those costs up front. But that seldom happens.

      • karol 1.2.5

        Maybe some people need to stop thinking in terms of dairying and more about other kinds of farming. Kumeu has a few wineries. There are some orchards there.

        • Wayne 1.2.5.1

          Karol, I was not thinking of the wineries or orchards, but the lifestyle blocks of usually 1 to 5 acres. I have seen a lot of them. There might be a little bit of grazing, but it is not intensive.

          In any event I said 50/50 as opposed to 60/40, so it really is a question of degree. But obviously greenfields (whether 40% or 50%) will mean some expansion of the urban limit. Even Len’s 15,000 sections will be used up in about 3 to 5 years. What happens after that?

          Since Auckland will grow to 2.5 million over next 30 years (a bit bigger than Brisbane today) the urban limit will have to go out to some degree, and ther are logical places where thatwill occur.

          And most of those people will not work in the city centre, more likely East Tamaki, and Albany Basin, relatively close to the growth nodes.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.2.5.1.1

            There might be a little bit of grazing, but it is not intensive.

            Oh, good, not polluting the land then.

            Since Auckland will grow to 2.5 million over next 30 years…

            I really doubt that – BAU has come to its end.

            And most of those people will not work in the city centre, more likely East Tamaki, and Albany Basin, relatively close to the growth nodes.

            There used to be something like 13 CBDs in Auckland. Quite a few of them still have industrial areas. We don’t need to go outwards, we need to go up. Doing so produces economies of scale that going outwards will never achieve and going outwards costs far too much.

          • lprent 1.2.5.1.2

            but the lifestyle blocks of usually 1 to 5 acres.

            Dairy Flat, Whitford, around Kumeu, etc

            That small – hardly.

            Don’t know about Whitford as I haven’t been there since I was milking at Afriston decades ago.

            But around Dairy Flat and Kumeu I know pretty well and they certainly have a few blocks of that size – but far far more larger blocks. I suspect that where those teeny blocks exist they are largely on the bounds of the small settlements rather than covering large areas, and are not extensive in area.

            If they were that small and covered extensive areas then those areas would be a maze of roads and rights of way that would show up clearly on a map of the area that would make it already look like a sub-division.

            Nah – I think you’re just inflating a bubble with hot air…

            What those areas do have I suspect are some land-owners who’d dearly like to sub-divide and get the rest of Auckland to pay for their infrastructure.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.5.1.2.1

              What those areas do have I suspect are some land-owners who’d dearly like to sub-divide and get the rest of Auckland to pay for their infrastructure.

              While pocketing massive un-taxed income.

            • Macro 1.2.5.1.2.2

              Having (until recently) been a resident and lifestyle block owner in Coatesville for 25 years – the area under discussion, I can advise that the original 10+acres of the past lifestyle blocks are being progressively subdivided up into “country living” lots of around 1 hectare (ie 2 acres) The larger blocks along main routes will remain – so that Aucklanders can drive out in the weekends and see green fields – but closer into towns, and off the main highways, blocks are being aggressively subdivided down to these small blocks upon which ridiculously large houses houses complete with swimming pools and tennis courts are placed surrounded by manicured lawns mown by ride ons – not an animal or any horticultural enterprise in site.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 1.2.6

        Thats right.
        The gift National will give to lifestyle block owners is say a further subdivision of their property.

        Usually they dont have any services, like water or sewage. But the potential to carve off another $500-600k piece of land to sell is what is driving this.

  2. ad 2

    Good article.

    Phil what is Labour’s vision for Auckland?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Let the Aucklanders decide: thats labours vision.

      Nationals vision, rule by commisar

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Labour’s vision ‘we’ll leave it up to you’ is not really much is it. Where’s the leadership and vision.

    • Ad – Vision: Auckland as a highly liveable, job-rich powerhouse for the New Zealand economy, and a magnet for investment, visitors and migrants. 21st century compact city with great public transport, public spaces and thriving urban neighbourhoods. A city that protects and celebrates its natural taonga: the Gulf, volcanoes, the Waitakeres, and the rural hinterland. A more democratic super city, and active government working hand in hand with central government.

      We support the Auckland Plan: fix gridlock by investing in public transport, bold plan by central govt and Auckland Council to deliver affordable housing, compact city to contain the sprawl, local and central govt working together a. to stimulate high value manufacturing and jobs, and b. tackle entrenched inequality and poverty via the Auckland Plan’s southern initiative.

      There are some exciting changes afoot in Auckland: progress on public transport (City Rail Link, new electric trains, and the new planned network); at long last some real leadership on managing growth, intensification, urban renewal in the city centre and Wynyard Quarter. Almost all the progress is happening as a result of leadership from Len Brown and Auckland Council. Add all that to Auckland’s stunning natural environment, vibrant community life…and as Aucklanders know the place is generating quite a buzz. It’s just a shame the National Government is so out of sync with it. They cannot bear having to deal with a progressive Mayor, and just want to take the city back to its vision of Auckland as a 1950s sprawling, motorway-crossed cow town.

      • Anne 2.2.1

        Bravo Phil. Now we want more of that type of language coming from all of you. Straight talking… say it how it is… use strong (but not offensive of course) language. That’s what makes people sit up and take notice. PC, wishy washy stuff (which Labour has wallowed in for too long) just doesn’t cut it – even when the message is a good one.

        (National)…just want to take the city back to its vision of Auckland as a 1950s sprawling, motorway-crossed cow town.

        Attention getting words – great.

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          Yep this is excellent inspiring stuff.

          But lets operationalise this vision to the next level of detail needed to achieve the big picture. That’s what people will vote on. What are the roles that a Labour Government envisages for itself in delivering on this vision. And specifically, how is Labour going to keep momentum behind the vision going during the years it is not in power?

          It will take tens of billions of dollars over the next two decades to achieve this vision. It can’t be done on the cheap or slap dash. What will Labour do to help raise those funds.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2.1.1.1

            How quickly u forget.

            The last labour government set the wheels in motion for the super city. maybe they will give all the quangos back to the peoples control and send packing Hides brown commissars

            • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1.1.1

              And specifically, how is Labour going to keep momentum behind the vision going during the years it is not in power?

              See what I wrote there?

              The trend is very simple: Labour makes a change, whether it’s SOEs, or the Supercity, or work testing sickness beneficiaries.

              And then National take it through to the natural right wing conclusion

              Labour implements step 1, National happily takes that and finishes it off with steps 2 and 3.

      • nthshoredoc 2.2.2

        Hi phil

        Can you explain where the additional families that will be housed under the regional plan are going to go to school having been the candidate on the Nth shore for some years i’m sure you are aware that our facilities are bursting at the seams.

        • Phil Twyford 2.2.2.1

          nthshoredoc – New schools will be needed, along with hospital beds, and all manner of other community services. Auckland is going to absorb another million people in the next 30 years, and many of them will want to live in the city and existing suburbs, not out in far flung burbs. That means we have to retrofit our suburbs. I think the big thing is to start building infrastructure as development is happening, not leaving people in new suburbs for years and years without decent facilities or public transport which is what has been happening in Flat Bush for example.

          • nthshoredoc 2.2.2.1.1

            Thanks for responding Phil, I was in particular thinking of the proposed ‘densification’ proposed for Takapuna, Milford and Browns Bay, being a long time Nth Shore candidate I’m sure you realise that the schools along that corridor are already bursting at the seams are there are no areas in close proximity where new schools can be built – unless the proposal is to in fill the existing schools with prefabs or go up another level or two but this would mean incredibly large rolls.

            Buzz words like ‘retrofit’ our suburbs are really meaningless without some sensible and achievable planning around them.

          • xtasy 2.2.2.1.2

            Phil: Auckand is NOT going to absorb another million or so people in the coming 30 years!

            This is the agenda stuff that you semi aristocrat administrators try to push onto us. WE DO NOT WANT THIS, MATE!!!

            I do not want to have Auckland be just another megalopolis of anonymity, of people being stuffed numbers, which we are already treated as now. I hate Len Brown for it, and I reject your position on this. Aucklanders DO NOT WANT to have high rises all over the place, we also DO NOT WANT an urban spread, indeed Aucklanders want to get on with things, to be left alone and manage within the realms that they face NOW.

            Why do we have to house all those hundreds of thousands of new migrants in Auckland. Even now, Auckland is NOT the vibrant city I know from Europe or Asia, it will never deliver to be such a hot place, but you demagogues tell us that we have to do what you guys and your planners see fit.

            I am sorry Phil, I used to vote Labour, since the demotion of Cunliffe, the nomination of a hopeless leader called Shearer, and since Len Brown has gone all corporate and shat on the wharfies, I have NO time for your screwed up one sided corp friendly party anymore.

            Auckland shall not be sold to shit policies, needs to develop in time, and any excessive migration should be channelled to other centres and regions. Thank you, you have given me feedback that I am not convinced of.

            • Phil Twyford 2.2.2.1.2.1

              xtasy – How do you plan to hold back the tide? A lot of of it is internal migration and natural population growth. Short of introducing internal passports, I’m not sure there is any easy way. People are always going to drift to the big city for jobs and lifestyle. Good regional economic development policy would make a difference by providing more and better jobs in the provinces. You could cut back immigration but we are heavily reliant on skilled migrants to fill particular skills shortages.

              Why the fear of Auckland being a larger city? With one million more it will still only be about the size Brisbane is now, and a lot smaller than Melbourne or Sydney. Very small by international standards. And if we shift to good urban development policies: modern public transport systems, affordable housing, revitalising the central city, protecting our parks and harbours etc then it seems to me we can manage the growth and make the city a great place to live.

              And by the way, the Unitary Plan allows for high rise (up to 18 storeys) in only a handful of metropolitan centres (CBD, Manukau, Takapuna, New Lynn), and then in a larger group of town centres it allows 4-storeys.

              • Correction: that last comment re the new height controls is an over simplification. See http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10871592

                • karol

                  Hmmm… thanks for the link, Phil. 18 Storeys for New Lynn. Is that likely to be only in the area beside the mall with up to 3 or 4 storeys in the surrounding area? And I look forward to seeing Penny Hulse around New Lynn – even if its only as she rushes between her flat & the train station.

                  And Henderson & Massey up to 18 storeys: interesting. I know one or two elderly people around New Lynn who have concerns about the changes – i.e. that they will be forced out of the houses they own to make way for more intensive housing.

              • xtasy

                “Good regional economic development policy would make a difference by providing more and better jobs in the provinces. You could cut back immigration but we are heavily reliant on skilled migrants to fill particular skills shortages.”

                You have already mentioned one thing that would make a difference to have endless streams of NZers and migrants from overseas stream into Auckland: “Good reginal economic development policy” is indeed what is needed. And that means more than just focusing on farming. What about incentivising value added production of products from the farms, the orchards, fishing vessels and so forth?

                NZ is over reliant on low value added and non value added product exports, like the booming milk powder and baby formula exports to Mainland China. Now more can be made from milk and cream than just milk powder.

                NZ is already a joke for many tourists also, who come here and find that most souvenirs are made in China, not in NZ. Yes, people come with the argument of labour costs, but why do other economies like Germany, Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, Austria, Switzerland and a fair few others in Europe still manage to do quite all right, including manufacturing things?

                As for the migration, I know that about half medical staff in hospitals and clinics is made up of migrants. But there, and in some other areas, we have this needed migration, because Kiwis have left for Australia and elsewhere in droves, for better wages and salaries, and better working and living conditions overall.

                All the issues like the focus of people to move to Auckland have reasons, and they need to be addressed, rather than dealing with the symptoms and keep building ever more homes in an ever growing city. Where is the water going to come from, as we now are still in an extended drought period. Do we then want to build desalination plants?

                No, I also do not want 18 storey blocks in Henderson, New Lynn, Manukau and the likes. I proposed repeatedly lower level blocks of apartments, townhouses, blocks of units and the likes, rather than turn Auckland into a little New York.

                Give incentives to businesses, employers and migrant workers to move to more regional and other centres for a start.

                • KJT

                  The reason we need so many skilled migrants is self perpetuating.

                  So long as employers know that they can make up for paying insufficient wages to attract skilled people, and they can avoid training costs, by going bleating to the Government and immigration department about skills shortages, we will have a shortage of skilled people.

                  In my job their is no shortage of skilled New Zealanders, just of skilled new Zealanders willing to work for the ridiculous hours and low pay New Zealand employers offer. Singapore, Australia and many other countries offer much more.

                  Even the migrants, the skilled ones, only do so to gain residency as a stepping stone to Australia.

                  The average age is now late 50’s with no young New Zealanders staying.

                  It is almost funny that NZ firms claim they have to pay millions, so called international rates, to get barely competent accountants to fill managers jobs, a not uncommon skill set, but they will not pay the 80k to 180k for really hard to acquire skills.

      • xtasy 2.2.3

        Phil Twyford:

        “A more democratic super city, and active government working hand in hand with central government.”

        Some inspiring words there, but then again, when you mention “a more democratic super city”, this comes to mind:

        http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/representativesbodies/CCO/Pages/Home.aspx

        I am yet to be convinced of the present Auckland being “more democratic” as the separate cities and councils that existed before.

        Indeed I was for a Greater Auckland being merged into one city, but my idea was of a truly more democratic city also, which I fear we have NOT got!

        • Phil Twyford 2.2.3.1

          xtasy – Yep, putting 75% of the assets and operations into corporate entities governed by hand picked boards doing much of their business in secret was one of the ways Hide and Key left their imprint on the super city. Only one of the so called Council Controlled Organisations is mandated by law – that is Auckland Transport and it is Labour policy to repeal the legislative mandate for it, leaving it up to Auckland Council to decide whether it wants it as a CCO or bring it in house. Auckland Council is planning a review of all the other CCOs and I think there is an appetite for bringing a number of them in house.

          • xtasy 2.2.3.1.1

            Phil:
            “Auckland Council is planning a review of all the other CCOs and I think there is an appetite for bringing a number of them in house.”

            How is that going to happen though, it seems like “aspiring”, kind of, what John Key goes on about all the times. A review is a moderate comment, we WANT a CHANGE and have some democratic input put into place for CCOs thanks.

            At present it is corporate style governance, overseen by the mayor. Surely that is NOT what a democratic council and mayor should be about.

  3. ad 3

    In particular will it either “have regard to” or “give effect to” the Auckland PLan?

  4. Draco T Bastard 6

    And why, after all the effort that went into creating the super city so Auckland could speak with one voice, does the Government not want to hear what Auckland is saying?

    Because they didn’t get their right-wing local governance headed by that shifty banksy fellow doing what they wanted such as selling off as much of Auckland’s infrastructure as possible.

    It is easy politics to point out that on those two vital issues Ministers from the South Island are trying to run Auckland from their offices in Wellington.

    Good description of just how disconnected National is from Auckland’s reality.

    • SpaceMonkey 6.1

      Yep… that’s my reading of it too. It’s an ideological beat up by the Nats against a city headed by a left-wing mayor. The Government is just going to run interference on this. There is no interest in actually doing anything other than destabilisng the situation further, presumeably to dislodge Len Brown at the next local-government election.

      • lprent 6.1.1

        What candidate? So far I haven’t smelt a whiff of anyone credible who is going to challenge Len Brown.

        More importantly I haven’t seen any challenge campaign team being formed to date and it is now getting frigging late. By this time of the local electoral cycle in 2010 there were several credible challenger campaigns already running, a major propaganda war in progress, and we knew who the main contenders were. Fund-raising for the kind of half million plus dollar challenger campaign appears to be quiescent or strongly concealed (the latter will e interesting to probe if it does turn out to be one waiting in the wings).

        So far the only challenge appears to be coming from National’s central government. But any candidate from that corner is going to be about as welcome as someone barfing in restaurant. They aren’t exactly popular outside of their few wee ghettos of the faithful in Auckland, and even most of those are getting sick of them being dumb obstructions.

        I can’t see anyone being able to start a campaign this late and to get very far

        • tc 6.1.1.1

          They’ll probably leave Len alone so they can continue the attempts to blame him for the structure NACT bolted onto AKL and keep stirring and having pops from the beehive.

          Banks has left an odour hanging about as he’s an ACT stooge for the Nat’s now so that makes it difficult to put Banks jnr (brewer) up.

          Maybe put up a patsy like Troy Churton or similar leaving Brewer/Fletcher/Quax etc to keep undermining him from inside council.

  5. Auckland has become a big cancer that needs cutting, as far as the rest of NZ -jafas…

    • Tony 7.1

      Umm… Auckland is a cancer that needs cutting?? Are moderators ok with that?

      [lprent: It is an opinion and a pretty common one south of the Bombays. But it doesn’t fall inside the policies for moderators to be concerned with unless it is part of a pattern of a flame troll.

      I don’t agree with it and I tend to view a person making it as being quite stupid. But that becomes more a matter for comment than moderation. ]

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    Parents will pay more for their kids’ education as a result of this year’s Budget after the Government froze operational funding for schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This means schools are effectively going backwards. They will need to… ...
    17 hours ago
  • Sticking Plaster Budget fails the test
    Bill English’s penultimate Budget fails to tackle the structural challenges facing the economy – a housing crisis, rising unemployment, underfunded health and creaking infrastructure, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This Budget applies a sticking plaster to a compound fracture.… ...
    19 hours ago
  • John Key fails middle New Zealand with no fix for housing crisis, more underfunding of health
    Middle New Zealand has again missed out in this year’s Budget with not a single fix for the housing crisis, and health and education woefully underfunded again, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This Budget is just a patchwork… ...
    19 hours ago
  • Labour Bill would back Kiwi jobs
    The Government’s $40 billion of buying power would go towards backing Kiwi businesses and jobs under a Labour Member’s Bill which will be debated by Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “My Bill – which was pulled from… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Julie Anne Genter: My Budget 2016 wish is fairness
    When my parents first visited me in Auckland ten years ago, they remarked on how there were no homeless people on the streets. Coming from Los Angeles, they were used to seeing the impacts of horrendous inequality and a lack… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    22 hours ago
  • Steffan Browning: Pesticide reduction and Organic Growth Strategy in Budget 2016
    Pesticide reduction The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to launch a pesticide reduction strategy that multiplies the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ capacity to reassess pesticides and other toxins.  The Agricultural Compounds and… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    23 hours ago
  • Steffan Browning: Pesticide reduction and Organic Growth Strategy in Budget 2016
    Pesticide reduction The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to launch a pesticide reduction strategy that multiplies the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ capacity to reassess pesticides and other toxins.  The Agricultural Compounds and… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning
    23 hours ago
  • Minister won’t fess up on wrong figures
    The Minister of Health was caught out telling porkies in Parliament today when he was asked about the number of people getting access to mental health and addiction services, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. ...
    2 days ago
  • Budget 2016 and our LGBTQI communities
    LGBTI people make up about a tenth of our population, and our communities face a unique set of needs and challenges. These challenges are caused or exacerbated by discrimination, invisibility and barriers to appropriate support. We have a long way… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 days ago
  • Budget 2016 and our LGBTQI communities
    LGBTI people make up about a tenth of our population, and our communities face a unique set of needs and challenges. These challenges are caused or exacerbated by discrimination, invisibility and barriers to appropriate support. We have a long way… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 days ago
  • Scrambled announcement policy on the hoof
    Paula Bennett’s scrambled desperate announcement that she will pay homeless people to move to the regions is just the latest evidence of the disarray this Government’s housing policy is in, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This is policy… ...
    2 days ago
  • Police Minister admits resolution rates fall short of expectation
    Police Minister Judith Collins has admitted in Parliament current burglary resolution rates are not meeting the expectations of our communities, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash “Out of 284 police stations in New Zealand in 2015, 24 stations recorded zero… ...
    2 days ago
  • Mojo Mathers: A better deal for animals in Budget 2016
    Currently we are failing animals in NZ. On the face of it farmed and domestic animals in this country have strong legal protection from abuse, cruelty and neglect. In reality it seems that only the very worst, most extreme cases… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 days ago
  • Metiria Turei: What we need from Budget 2016
    Every family deserves a warm decent home.  Everyone believes that. This housing crisis is just the latest consequence of a Government who puts the interests of the few wealthy people above the needs of NZ families.  Families are doing it… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    2 days ago
  • Dairy exports fall of 11%: Budget action on diversification needed
    Dairy exports have fallen 11 per cent compared to this time last year, a fall of almost $1.5b, showing the Government must take clear action on diversifying the economy in tomorrow’s Budget, says Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David… ...
    2 days ago
  • Investors driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland
    Investors cashing in on skyrocketing Auckland house prices are driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland and causing homeownership rates in some of our poorest suburbs to plummet, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New analysis shows… ...
    2 days ago
  • Budget must deliver on paid parental leave
    Budget 2016 must deliver 26 weeks paid parental leave by April 2018 – anything less will be short-changing families, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “My Bill which is before Parliament this afternoon has majority support and does just that. I… ...
    2 days ago
  • Key’s “brain fart” on tax cuts news to English
    John Key didn’t tell his own Finance Minister he was about to go on radio and announce he wanted $3b of tax cuts, just days after Bill English ruled them out, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “In Parliament today… ...
    3 days ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    3 days ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    3 days ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    3 days ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 days ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 days ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 days ago
  • Budget building materials policy backfires
    On the eve of this year’s Budget official figures show Nick Smith’s Budget 2014 centrepiece to reduce the cost of building materials has backfired, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials have spent the… ...
    3 days ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    3 days ago
  • Govt must come clean on tax cuts in Budget
    National is making a mockery of the Budget process by dangling the promise of tax cuts but failing to include them in the Budget, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s tax cut promises have turned into a farce. One… ...
    4 days ago
  • Grant Robertson Pre-Budget Speech
    Today I want to talk about success. As we know success can come in many different forms, from the fact you all made it here at such an early hour on a Monday, for which I am very grateful, to… ...
    4 days ago
  • Budget must deliver for middle New Zealand
    The Government must ensure next week’s Budget stops the squeeze on middle New Zealand and delivers shared prosperity for all New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. The call follows new research commissioned by Labour that shows working… ...
    5 days ago
  • Our housing emergency – why we have to act
    Marama and Metiria at Homes Not Cars launch On Thursday, Metiria Turei announced the Green Party’s plan to start addressing the emergency housing crisis facing our country. Too many people are without homes right now – homeless. It is the… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    6 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • Car rego victims must get a refund
    Motorists who have been overcharged for their car registration should get a refund, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “Minister Nikki Kaye’s ‘faulty risk’ rating scheme has blown up in her face with over 170 different models of car having… ...
    7 days ago
  • Council statement shows they just don’t get it
    The Auckland Council’s statement today shows they don’t understand the problems created by the urban growth boundary, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “I have been the first to defend the Auckland City Council when Bill English has been blaming… ...
    7 days ago
  • Inspecting electronic devices a potential privacy threat
    Labour is expressing concern for New Zealanders’ privacy rights as the Government signals Customs will have the power to inspect electronic devices coming across the border, says Labour’s Customs Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “We agree that customs officers should have the… ...
    7 days ago
  • The Price of Water
    This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • Caption It NZ!
    Today I received a petition from the NZ Captioning Working Group urging the government to legislate for accessibility via closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders. It was timely because today is the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    1 week ago
  • Older Kiwis to miss out on electives
    The Government is not doing enough elective surgery to keep up with New Zealand’s ageing population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s damning that the targeted national intervention rate for cataract and knee and hip surgery is the same… ...
    1 week ago
  • Most principals say their college is underfunded
    The Government must substantially increase funding for secondary schools in next week’s Budget after a new survey found 86 per cent of principals consider their college under-resourced, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Just 14 per cent of secondary principals… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour calls for independent inquiry into illegal fish dumping
    The Labour Party is reiterating its call for an independent inquiry into New Zealand’s fishing industry after two reports revealed the Ministry for Primary Industries turned a blind eye to widespread fish dumping in New Zealand waters, says Labour’s Fisheries… ...
    1 week ago
  • Mt Karangahake and Newcrest Mining
    On Wednesday and Sunday of last week the local residents of the Karangahake mountain in the Karangahake gorge of Hauraki/Coromandel peacefully protested against a gold mining drill rig on private land adjacent to the DOC land. The drilling rig was… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Robbing Aucklanders to pay Rio Tinto
    New Zealand’s national electricity grid stretches the length of the country and contains some 11,803 kilometres of high-voltage lines and 178 substations. It wouldn’t make sense for competing power companies to duplicate and build their own expensive electricity transmission system… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Government should abolish Auckland urban growth boundary
    The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn’t… ...
    1 week ago

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