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What is Paul Eagle doing?

Written By: - Date published: 12:33 pm, September 22nd, 2022 - 16 comments
Categories: local body elections, local government, uncategorized - Tags:

Some concerning reports have emerged about Paul Eagle’s mayoral campaign.

This week there have been reports that he snubbed a Labour Council candidate while endorsing a right wing candidate.  And that he has been working behind the scenes supporting a team of independents.

The snubbing incident was reported by Erin Gourley at Stuff:

Paul Eagle is in backtrack mode after breaking party rules by failing to endorse a Labour candidate and Wellington City councillor.

At a candidate meeting on Tuesday night, Labour-endorsed mayoral candidate Eagle was asked who he would like to work with. He spoke highly of independent councillor Diane Calvert – he then paused, looked over at Labour councillor Rebecca Matthews and said the rest was up to voters.

When Eagle received the Labour endorsement, he agreed to endorse Labour candidates in the Wellington local body elections. He is currently the Labour MP for Rongotai.

He later backtracked. “I could have been clearer about my support for Rebecca at the Khandallah event last night but honestly, I assumed it was a given – I’m a Labour-endorsed mayoral candidate and she’s a Labour candidate,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

One should never read anything into one incident.  But a separate report that Eagle is supporting independents is of major concern.

From Marc Daalder at Newsroom:

Independent council candidates running against Labour candidates say Labour MP and Wellington mayoral hopeful Paul Eagle has been giving them campaign advice.

Eagle, who is running as an independent but has the endorsement of the Labour Party, helped councillor Diane Calvert run advice sessions for first-time independent candidates, according to attendees. Two candidates said the meetings could be described as a “study group”.

Eagle denied to Newsroom he had ever given campaign advice to independents running against Labour candidates.

“I was invited to meet for informal coffee meetings with people who were considering running and to share my vision for Wellington,” he said. “I happily shared my experiences from 2010 to 2017 as a councillor and nearly 15 years as a council officer with them (and others).”

Independent candidates also told Newsroom that Eagle had encouraged them to run after Labour candidates had already been selected in their wards, with one saying he had been “shoulder-tapped” by the mayoral frontrunner – something Eagle also denied.

For weeks, local Labour members have privately worried Eagle is assembling an “alternative ticket” of independents aligned against housing intensification and cycleways. In the wake of a Q+A poll showing Eagle in a virtual deadlock with Greens-endorsed Tory Whanau, as well as an incident on Tuesday in which Eagle appeared to publicly endorse the independent Calvert over a Labour opponent, those concerns are now being shared more widely.

At a candidates’ event in Khandallah on Tuesday evening, a Labour activist asked Eagle and Whanau which candidates in the Wharangi/Onslow-Western ward they most wanted to see on council. Eagle reportedly backed Calvert by name, before saying the rest was up to the voters.

Eagle has since backed Labour Councillor and candidate Rebecca Matthews explicitly.

The candidates all use yellow in their branding as does Paul Eagle.

His policy platform also raises eyebrows.  As I previously noted his policies are very centrist.

He wants to go back to basics and reprioritise expenditure to support his version of the three r’s that he calls the four p’s, pools, pipes, potholes and playgrounds.  He wants master planning of the city and the libraries to be open on Sundays.  He likes cultural events.  He wants to “create a world-class arts precinct that connects our key cultural venues – from the Embassy, the new convention centre Tākina, the St James, Opera House, Gryphon Theatre, the Michael Fowler Centre and the Town Hall. The precinct will boast a dedicated walkway that tells the story of these venues and of our city.”

He also wants to “deliver on Te Ngakau Civic Square by leveraging private sector expertise and using the City Development Authority to enable mixed use in the Square, with retail, hospitality, offices and apartments to complement civic uses.”  It is not a simple job to allow commercial interests to inhabit public spaces without detracting for the public nature of the space.

His website has more recently added policies on climate change which are OK but in terms of all important resource he apepars to want to rely on Central Government funding.

In terms of walking and cycling he proposes the establishment of an “integrated public transport network so that Wellingtonians have access to high quality public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure, along with roads for private transport”.  He has previously said that Wellington City has an unhealthy obsession with cycleways.  His language suggests that he does not want to convert roads into walkways or cycleways.

There is a lot to unpick from recent events.  I suspect that the New Zealand Council of the Labour Party will be looking at this.

16 comments on “What is Paul Eagle doing? ”

  1. Johnr 1

    It seems to me that he is behaving like someone who has made politics a career and will jump from pillar to post, wherever a perceived vote is. And, the greatest ego stroking is achieved.

    I'm fast coming to the belief that political life should have a definite term. Maybe 5 terms spread over both local and central govts with a max of 3 terms in any one forum

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Go Tory Whanau! is almost all I can say…

    …except for also saying–if these Mayoral Candidates are the cream, that the brains trust of the Capital City can front, then it is everyone for themselves and look forward to more awesome public art–in the form of effluent fountains.

    • roy cartland 2.1

      Tory, Tamatha and Yadana are my main picks. Green spaces, public art, public transport, walkability… it's almost as if they think the city should be halfway bearable for the people that live there!

  3. Ad 3

    Looks like he's sensibly sucking Andy Foster's centre right votes out of a close race, since the Green vote isn't shiftable.

    The big new Wellington cycleways are on NZTA and Kiwirail land, other than the ones around the waterfront to Shelley Bay that are now either construction or in procurement already.

    If Eagle does get Mayor, guarantee he gives Iona Pannett a decent Committee Chair so she can stick it to the Greens that shafted her.

    • Poission 3.1

      He may be endorsed by Labour,but he is standing as an independent,hence not fully entwined with central planning.

      He lives in Island Bay and fully understands the problems with bikelanes,and the damage that it does to communities that actually live there,especially the destruction of retail in Newtown.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Wellington must have one of the most disempowered of New Zealand's city mayors.

        No useful control of any water, road transport, public transport. Nearly zero influence over airport or port.

        No useful influence over planning.

        Employment 90% bought and paid by government.

        How WCC make so many arguments break out over so little is unreal.

        • Poission

          They got captured by neo politics of outsourcing or selling ( or giving away assets) which reduced debt,which then returned as substantive investment was required for EQ strengthening and replacement of substantive award winning assets.

        • William

          I don't believe it's the role of the mayor to have control over those things.

          The Local Government Act 2002 states in section 41A;

          Role and powers of mayors

          (1) The role of a mayor is to provide leadership to—

          (a) the other members of the territorial authority; and

          (b) the people in the district of the territorial authority.

          (2) Without limiting subsection (1), it is the role of a mayor to lead the development of the territorial authority’s plans (including the long-term plan and the annual plan), policies, and budgets for consideration by the members of the territorial authority.

          (3) …

          It carries on, giving the mayor power to appoint the deputy mayor & establish committees etc (but also empowering the council members to overturn those decisions by the mayor).

          Does 'leadership' entail having influence or control over other authority members?

          Well, the next line grants the same 'leadership' over people in the district of the territorial authority. If that means people of the district should roll over and accept the mayor's say so for the next three years, I've got a citizens revolt to get involved with. Therefore, the mayor is merely one vote among the other councilors.

          You may be comparing to the Auckland mayor's role. That role is defined in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 section 9;

          Mayor of Auckland

          (1) The role of the mayor is to—

          (a) articulate and promote a vision for Auckland; and

          (b) provide leadership for the purpose of achieving objectives that will contribute to that vision.

          (2) Without limiting subsection (1), it is the role of the mayor to—

          (a) lead the development of Council plans (including the LTP and the annual plan), policies, and budgets for consideration by the governing body; and

          (b) ensure there is effective engagement between the Auckland Council and the people of Auckland, including those too young to vote.


          I'd suggest that

          "articulate and promote a vision for Auckland; and

          provide leadership for the purpose of achieving objectives that will contribute to that vision."

          gives the Auckland mayor significant control over the direction of Auckland Council.

          You refer to "No useful control of any water, road transport, public transport. Nearly zero influence over airport or port."

          Each city council in greater Wellington still gets to set a budget for water maintenance and infrastructure builds, but the work is coordinated & sometimes undertaken by Wellington Water, which is owned by all the councils.

          Each council controls its own local roads, public transport is the responsibility of Wellington Regional Council (which at least means buses & trains are coordinated over the whole region, and the regional councilors that caused the bus stuff up either resigned or were booted out three years ago).

          WCC owns 34% of the airport but the other shareholder owns 66%, so the council effectively has zero control. Compare that to Auckland where the council only owns 18%, but the next largest holding is 10%, and there are multiple smaller holdings.

          WCC has no direct control over the port because it is owned by Wellington Regional Council (77%) & Horizons Regional Council (23%).

          • Ad

            All you've pointed out is that I was right.

            We could do a whole history of local government over both Labour and National since 1989 and show the same thing.

            Wellington Council has been fractious and poorly run, even as it declines in influence.

            • William

              You stated

              "Wellington must have one of the most disempowered of New Zealand's city mayors.

              No useful control of any water, road transport…" etc

              I was pointing out that no NZ mayor (other than Auckland) has control of any of those things because the legislation doesn't grant it to them. Councils can have control, some more so than others, depending on what has happened in the past.

              MS's post is about Paul Eagle standing for mayor of Wellington, and your comments clearly referred to the role of the Wellington mayor. So no, I was not pointing out you were right.

              • Ad

                If I'd wanted to comment on the legislative powers of the mayor within NZ local government, I would have.

                Certainly lack of agency within Wellington Council derives from a vast legislative history of disempowerment and corporatisation going back deep into the 1980s.

                The degree of conflict within Wellington Council occurs despite its lack of agency over much at all. You haven't altered that.

        • Martin C

          Time for a commissioner.

      • William 3.1.2

        I too live in Island Bay and can assure you Paul Eagle only understands how to use an issue to enhance his chance of getting where he wants to be.

        You mention the bikelanes, he initially opposed them, even going so far as announcing a joint ticket for mayor/deputy mayor with conservative councilor Nicola Young (before being convinced that was not a good idea). She was not a local councilor but had seen it as a chance to raise her profile. He later changed his position and voted to build the lanes. He lost a lot of supporters in the anti crowd over that.

        The "damage that it does to communities" would include the cyclist killed in Auckland last week while riding on a bikelane identical to the previous Island Bay layout.

        The "destruction of retail in Newtown" so far totals the florist who lost parking nearby when the supermarket was built 10 years ago, but who has now closed blaming the bikelanes, the brew shop that was supportive of lanes but seemed to rely on trucks stopping on no stopping lines in a busy intersection, and the furniture shop that has moved 100m down the road to much much larger premises.

    • swordfish 3.2

      Far rather a feet-on-the-ground Eagle / Pannett combo than the alternative.

  4. Peter 4

    What is Paul Eagle doing? Heading back to Parliament as an MP?

  5. Ad 5

    If Collins doesn't make it there will be plenty of columns wondering why Collins didn't do the same as Eagle.

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