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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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    Earlier this week I posed some questions to Finance Minister Bill English about his support for the government’s plan to spend a billion dollars on a new prison. I was pretty disappointed in his answers, all of which flew in the face of his own ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 days ago
  • Govt already in ‘holiday mode’ on $2.3b owed to Kiwi workers
    The Government is dragging its feet while working New Zealanders are still missing up to $2.3 billion collectively owed to them through underpaid holiday pay entitlements, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “The cover was blown on this issue ...
    2 days ago
  • Why is New Zealand still the exception on deposit protection?
    I took the opportunity to question the Reserve Bank Governor, Graeme Wheeler, about New Zealand’s lack of deposit protection in front of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in Parliament yesterday. Why does the Reserve Bank continue to oppose protecting ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 days ago
  • Statement on proposed United Nations role
    “There has been a high degree of media interest in New Zealand about a possible post with the United Nations. “My name has been proposed to the United Nations Secretary General to be his Special Representative in South Sudan. ...
    2 days ago
  • David Shearer proposed for UN peacekeeping role
    Mt Albert MP David Shearer is being proposed for a demanding and exciting role heading the United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “David has kept me fully informed about this opportunity and we are ...
    2 days ago
  • Karori Kids and Campbell Kindergarten must be saved
    The Minister of Education needs to show some leadership and secure the future of two not-for-profit early childhood education centres that could be faced with closure as the land they sit on is up for sale, Grant Robertson Labour MP ...
    2 days ago
  • Ministry reveals shocking charter school results
    NCEA results for charter schools have been massively overstated with documents revealing many students leaving school without basic NCEA level two qualifications despite this being a main educational target for the Government, says Labour Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Documents obtained ...
    2 days ago
  • Minister must protect MSD staff
      The Minister of Social Development should immediately implement safer work practices to ensure tragedies such as the Ashburton killings don’t happen again, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.   ...
    2 days ago
  • A vote for the Māori Party is a vote for National
    Comments made by the Māori Party leadership in the wake of John Key’s surprise resignation make one thing clear: a vote for them is a vote for a fourth term National Government, and the increasing inequality and poverty for Māori ...
    3 days ago
  • Collins and English split over police funding
    The bloodletting has already begun with splits and divisions emerging after the Police Minister knifed the Finance Minister via the media, says Labour Police spokesman Stuart Nash. ...
    3 days ago
  • Next Prime Minister must tackle foreign speculators
    The public rightly puts much of the blame for the housing bubble at the feet of foreign speculators, and the next Prime Minister must listen to their concerns, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 days ago
  • NZ student performance slips in international study – again
    The continuing fall in Kiwi kids’ performance in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study shows the damage being inflicted by National’s cuts to education and one-size-fits-all approach, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “For years, National has ...
    3 days ago
  • CYF reforms dangerous backward step
    Child protection has taken a massive step backwards today with the Government passing a Bill that will give significant powers to unspecified ‘professionals’ or contract holders, says Labour’s Acting Children’s spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    3 days ago
  • Improve workplaces, and address domestic violence
    Last week the Productivity Commission put out a report about how to grow “weak labour productivity”. These views are being criticised as being straight out of the 1980s. What is a real problem is that we have a problem of ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    4 days ago
  • Palm oil industry implicated in human rights abuses
    The Green Party has campaigned for several years for mandatory palm oil labeling to give consumers choice. Most consumers do not want to support a palm oil industry that is destroying tropical rainforests and contributing to dangerous climate change emissions. ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    4 days ago
  • Syphilis on the rise in NZ
    Cases of syphilis are increasing in Auckland. You read that right, syphilis!  RNZ reported today that rates of syphilis have increased by 71 percent (between 2013-2015). We have known about the increase in syphilis figures for a while, but nothing ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    4 days ago
  • We need to work smarter not longer
    The charade of this Government’s sound economic management is unraveling. Misleading GDP figures, pumped up by property speculation and high immigration, have given the impression that all is well, masking our continued productivity decline compared to OECD countries. In fact, ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    4 days ago
  • Statement on John Key’s resignation
    Labour Party Leader Andrew Little has acknowledged John Key’s contribution to Government.  “John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication. Although we may have had our policy differences over the years, I respect the Prime Minister’s decision to ...
    5 days ago
  • Positive plan secures victory
    The victory of Labour’s newest MP, Michael Wood, in Mt Roskill is the result of a well-organised campaign run with honesty and integrity, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “I congratulate Michael Wood on his great victory. He will be a ...
    6 days ago
  • Wave of support for Kiwibuild continues to grow
    Apartment builder Ockham Residential has become the latest voice to call for the government to build affordable homes for Kiwi families to buy, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Helen O'Sullivan of Ockham has now joined prominent businesspeople like EMA ...
    1 week ago
  • Cuba Si Yankee No – Fidel Castro and the Revolution
    The death of Fidel Castro is a huge historical moment for the older generation who grew up with the toppling of Batista, the Bay of Pigs debacle, the death of Che Guevara and the US blockade against Cuba. For younger ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Government slashes observer coverage, fails snapper fishery
    The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has more than halved the number of fisheries observers in the East Coast North Island snapper trawl fishery (SNA1). This reduction in observer days, combined with major failures in an unproven and controversial video ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • ‘Exemplar’ Māori Land Court under siege
    TheMāori Land Court, hailed as an “exemplar” by the Ministry of Justice chief executive and Secretary, Andrew Bridgman is under siege by the Government through Māori land reforms and a Ministry restructure, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    1 week ago
  • He Poroporoaki ki a Te Awanuiārangi Black
    Kua hinga he whatukura o Tauranga Moana. Kua hinga rangatira o te iwi Māori. Ka tangi tonu ana te ngākau nā tāna wehe kei tua o te ārai. E rere haere ana ngā mihi aroha o mātou o Te Rōpū ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • CYF reforms ignoring whānau based solution
    When approximately 60 per cent of children in state care are Māori processes need to change in favour of whānau, hapū and iwi solutions, said Labour’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.  “Widespread concern about Government reforms of Child Youth and ...
    1 week ago
  • Hip and knees surgery takes a tumble
    The statistics for hip and knee electives under this Government make depressing reading, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Under the last Labour Government we achieved a 91 per cent growth in hip and knee elective surgery. Sadly under this ...
    1 week ago
  • Parata’s spin can’t hide cuts to early childhood education
    No amount of spin from Hekia Parata can hide the fact that per-child funding for early childhood education has been steadily decreasing under the National government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “In the 2009/10 year early childhood services received ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats will jump at chance to vote for KiwiBuild Bill
    National will welcome the chance to vote for a real solution to the housing crisis after their many, many failed attempts, says Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. Kelvin Davis’s Housing Corporation (Affordable Housing Development) Amendment Bill was ...
    1 week ago
  • Million dollar houses put homeownership out of reach of middle New Zealand
    35% of New Zealanders now live in places where the average house costs over a million dollars, and it’s killing the Kiwi dream of owning your own place, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Latest QV stats show that Queenstown ...
    1 week ago
  • Opportunity for political parties to back Kiwi-made and Kiwi jobs
    The First Reading in Parliament today of his Our Work, Our Future Bill is a chance for political parties to ensure the government buys Kiwi-made more often and backs Kiwi jobs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. The reading ...
    1 week ago
  • Solid Energy must open the drift
    Solid Energy is showing no moral spine and should not have any legal right to block re-entry into the Pike River drift, says Damien O’Connor MP for West Coast-Tasman.  “Todays failed meeting with  representatives from the state owned company is ...
    1 week ago
  • 20,000 at risk students “missing”
    A briefing to the Minister of Education reveals 20,000 at-risk students can’t be found, undermining claims by Hekia Parata that a new funding model would ensure additional funding reached students identified as at-risk, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Crime continues to rise
    Overall crime is up five per cent and the Government just doesn’t seem to care, says Labour’s Police Spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    1 week ago
  • Treasury fritters $10 million on failed state house sell off
    The Treasury has wasted $10 million in two years on the National Government's flawed state house sell off programme, including nearly $5.5 million on consultants, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. "New Zealand needs more state housing than ever, with ...
    1 week ago
  • National slow to learn new trade lessons post TPPA
    Yesterday, the Minister for Trade misused economic data in order to try to make the case for more so-called ‘trade agreements’ like the TPPA which are actually deregulatory straitjackets in disguise. In welcoming a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • Skilled migrant wages plummeting under National
    Wages have plummeted for people with skilled migrant visas working in low-skilled occupations, driving down wages for workers in a number of industries, says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Documents acquired by Labour under the Official Information Act reveal that ...
    1 week ago
  • Child abuse apology needed
    The Government's failure to act on recommendations from Judge Henwood, based on years of work by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) will further undermine any faith victims may have put into the process, says Labour’s Children’s Spokesperson Jacinda ...
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank again highlights National’s housing failure
    National’s failure to deal with the housing crisis in New Zealand is once again being exposed by the Reserve Bank today, in a scathing assessment of the Government’s response, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson “Governor Wheeler is clearly worried ...
    1 week ago
  • Palm Oil Labelling: Possible Progress?
    On Friday, the Minister for Food Safety, along with her Australian colleagues finally looked at the issue of mandatory labelling of palm oil. We’ve been calling for mandatory labelling for years and we were hoping that the Ministers would agree ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    1 week ago
  • National: Fails to achieve
    The ineffectiveness of the National Government’s approach to schooling has been highlighted by the latest Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) report released overnight, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    1 week ago
  • Faster into Homes – a new pathway for first home buyers
    This week Parliament will select another members’ bill from the cookie tin (I kid you not, it really is a cookie tin) and I’ve just launched a new bill I’m hoping will get pulled – to help people get into ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 week ago
  • Selling off our state housing stock isn’t working for NZers
    I want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, dry home. This National Government has let down New Zealanders, especially the thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling with something so basic and important as housing. ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Government needs to ensure fair deal on EQC assessments
    Kiwis affected by earthquakes might not get a fair deal if the Government pushes ahead with secret plans to let private insurers take over the assessment of claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Under questioning from Labour the Government ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s priorities the real ‘load of nonsense’
    The Prime Minister’s fixation with tax cuts, despite a failure to pay down any debt and growing pressure on public services is the real ‘load of nonsense’, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “We’re getting mixed messages from National. John ...
    1 week ago
  • Free Speech and Hate Speech
    Last week we were very concerned to hear that an Auckland imam, Dr Anwar Sahib, had been preaching divisive and derogatory messages about Jewish people and women during his sermons. It was a disturbing incident coming at the end of ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Young Kiwis struggling under record mortgage debt
    The Government needs to step in and start building affordable homes for first homebuyers now more than ever, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tairāwhiti says No Stat Oil!
    Tairāwhiti says yes to a clean environment for our mokopuna today and for generations to come. Tairāwhiti are have a responsibility to uphold their mana motuhake over their land and their peoples and are calling on the Government to honour ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    2 weeks ago