Every year, Auckland is more of New Zealand. More of its real estate risk, more of its social problems, more of its productivity drag. Just more. And hence more of its politics. This government has long since abandoned policy coherence over any Auckland issue: housing, immigration, innovation, transport, electricity, youth employment, poverty, public health, growth, wealth – anything you can name. It continues to legislate the role of local government to be weaker and weaker. And on every subject, central government makes a point of avoiding the unified approach with Auckland Council that New Zealand clearly needs.
Which makes this Auckland mayoral race matter.
Almost everywhere in New Zealand, if you’ve got name recognition and haven’t eaten any children lately, you’ll get elected. But we need Auckland to be governed on more than name recognition.
Which is why Phil Goff needs to tell us some actual policy.
Granted, a few won’t vote for him because he’s pro-TPP, is unrepentant as a reformer in the Lange government, and has abandoned the Labour brand for his run. Policies won’t alter such voters.
Instead let’s get to his substance. His site is weak. He has one policy: shift the sea port off the Waitemata. This appeals to the Kohimarama yachties and Devonport estate agents. It’s an otherwise stupid idea. If it ever happened, it would take 15 years minimum, which is crap politics first off: ruling out the Manukau or Bethells as suicide, Whangarei would need Marsden Point rail link and rail from Avondale to Onehunga, and a motorway through the Brynderwyns. It would need whole bunches of permissions from RMA to Commerce Commission to OIO, and the Public Works Act selldown procedures. Any one of those will have you in court for a decade (witness the recent Te Atatu port saga that went to the Supreme Court). And its a policy that achieves nothing. It’s make-work dressed as “strategy”.
On the site he’s got a little blog about the housing bubble being ready to burst, with allusions to the stock market in 1987. He claims that the property bubble is too far gone to fix. Not too many candidates outline a major problem and say from the outset it’s too hard to fix. I can’t even tell if he wants to fix it:
“As a member of the reforming Labour government of the 1980s, I support a market economy. However … governments also need to intervene to ensure socially fair outcomes, such as by preventing homelessness.”
Mr Goff, proposing to form a government, neglects to tell us how he will intervene. Or if.
What are his objectives? What executive instruments will he use? What needs fixing, and how will he fix it? Will we have the same council run 95% of the time by bureaucrats? Does he still have the capacity to reform anything? After 30 years in politics, why don’t we know what he wants to do? Even if he did, does he know how he’d do it?
It’s early. More policies will be released. But this candidate needs to spell out how he will in three years make Auckland “a city where talent and enterprise thrive”. Mr Goff is coasting on name recognition, and this is no time for such political laziness.
Mr Goff, your name is not enough. Fix it.