Phil Goff

Mayor for a better Auckland

Vote Phil Goff for Mayor for a better Auckland – learn more about mayoralty candidate Phil Goff’s vision for an Auckland City where enterprise thrives.  

Goff releases harbour health and waste policy

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff today released the second part of his environmental policy which focuses on restoring the health of Auckland’s harbours and the Hauraki Gulf, reducing plastic bag use, and reducing emissions through promoting electric vehicles.

Today’s policy announcement builds on the first leg of Phil Goff’s environmental policy to coordinate the planting of an extra one million trees and shrubs over the next three years.

“Auckland’s harbours are deteriorating in water quality and biodiversity. For the sake of our and future generations, we need to reverse that trend and restore and preserve the health of the Hauraki Gulf and our harbours,” said Phil Goff.

“With snapper numbers reduced to 19 percent of original stock, we need to restore fish stocks to sustainable levels and stop the damage in the Gulf caused by fishing practices like bottom trawling. We also need to stop sedimentation of our harbours and waterways. The Million Trees policy, through planting along streams, creeks, rivers and coastal areas will help improve the quality of waters.

“Auckland needs new initiatives to achieve its aspirational goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040, set out in Auckland Council's Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.

“Aucklanders use hundreds of millions of plastic bags each year.  They are used on average for 12 minutes before they enter the waste stream as non-biodegradable rubbish.

“Last year the United Kingdom introduced an equivalent 10 cents charge on all plastic bags used in supermarkets (with exceptions for some goods such as meat, fish and vegetables).  The result was an 85 percent reduction in plastic bag use. This is replicated in cities around the world which have taken this action. We need to do the same.

“Charging for plastic bags cannot be introduced through bylaws. As Mayor, I will work with MPs to promote change through a Local Bill in Parliament. Waiheke Island with its new Countdown supermarket is already leading the way with requiring reusable or compostable bags.

“Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge facing the world today. With more than a third of the country’s population Auckland needs to play its part.

“The planting of a million trees will reduce net emissions through creating a carbon sink. Speeding up conversion of our car and bus fleets to be electric is another effective way to reduce emissions. Council should lead the process by progressively converting its own 800 car fleet including the mayoral car. It should also be pushing for an electric rather than diesel bus fleet.

“Auckland will also need to start considering long term adaptions necessary to cope with rising sea levels.

“Auckland enjoys a stunning environment. We need to ensure we protect and sustain it particularly in view of our rapid population increase,” said Phil Goff.

ATAP step in the right direction

Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff says the Auckland Transport Alignment Project agreement between Auckland Council and the Government is a step in the right direction but more investment will be needed to prevent Auckland hitting transport gridlock.

“I welcome the fact that Auckland Council and the Government are now talking constructively. As Mayor, I will continue that dialogue and engagement,” said Phil Goff.

“Auckland is facing disproportionate growth compared to the rest of New Zealand, is contributing more to the government’s revenue coffers, and so needs more capital from government to fund the infrastructure deficit.

“What is outlined in today’s report represents a $4 billion shortfall minimum, in terms of the investment Auckland needs. This needs to be addressed.

“Aucklanders are also prepared to fund their share of the transport infrastructure needed. Progressing this so that Auckland Council can raise the revenue Auckland needs without hitting ratepayers with massive rate hikes will be a priority for me.”

Goff: CRL’s increasing cost estimates need to be explained

Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff says that he is concerned at the increasing cost estimates emerging for the construction of the City Rail Link.

“The original estimates by Auckland Transport, New Zealand Transport Agency and Treasury put the price at $2.5 billion. They are now saying the cost may be as high as $3.4 billion,” said Phil Goff.

“New Zealand taxpayers and Auckland ratepayers are owed an explanation for why local and central agencies may have underestimated the costs. We also need answers around the reliability of their new estimates and whether these can be depended on.

“People understand that the City Rail Link is a necessary part of stopping congestion on Auckland roads becoming gridlocked. Rail is a key part of that with patronage increasing by 22 percent a year. The CRL will double rail capacity and improve travel time.

“However, if the price continues to escalate it puts more pressure on Auckland ratepayers. We need assurances that the project will be delivered on time and within budget,” said Phil Goff.

Rail system vital for the future of Auckland

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff today released his transport policy which aims to bring forward rail and busways and pursue alternative funding options to pay for infrastructure.

His policy also will see the conversion of the Council vehicle fleet to electric, including the mayoral car, to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

“Auckland’s worsening congestion is costing the city billions of dollars so tackling the problem has to be a priority for the incoming Council.  Public transport projects will be the priority, and will free up the roads for those who do not have alternative options,” said Phil Goff.

“With bus lanes due to hit capacity, such as on Queen and Symonds Street, we need to look at rail as an alternative mode of transport. I want Auckland Council to prioritise the development of light rail and sign off of a business case for an isthmus light rail system so that it can be included into the Council’s 2018 Long Term Plan.

“With our tourist numbers growing and the airport area increasing as a place of employment, I want to see progress made on rail from the city to the airport, be it heavy or light, based on the business case.

“The current works expanding the Northern-Western motorway should have had a busway capacity built in.  That now needs to become a priority, as well as extending the busway north from Albany,” said Phil Goff.

The transport policy provides a multipronged approach to solving and future proofing Auckland’s worsening transport problems including:

  • Improving park and ride facilities in the outer parts of the network.
  • Electrifying trains to Pukekohe as a priority to eliminate transfer at Papakura.
  • The AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project from Panmure to Pakuranga needs to be progressed as early as possible.
  • Completing cycle networks around Auckland to add an alternative for people to move around the city and kids to bike to school.

“None of the infrastructure is going to come cheap but Auckland needs it.  Aucklanders have said they are prepared to pay their share – through alternative funding tools such as a regional fuel tax or some form of road charging.  They prefer these methods to the massive rates hikes and strategic asset sales that would otherwise be required.  Treasury also advised the government earlier this year that rate rises and asset sales are not the way to fund infrastructure.

“We need the government to consider expanding the Housing Infrastructure Fund to cater for transport projects.  If we want capital at the lowest possible interest rate, we also need to consider bond schemes. My priority will be to work with central government on this.

“I will also consider public/private partnerships or BOTs (Build-Operate-Transfer) schemes to get the infrastructure going earlier than we otherwise might have been able to. Higher financing cost will be offset by the saving made by delivering these big projects faster.

“As part of my overall drive to increase efficiency and sustainability, the mayoral car, and progressively the Council fleet, will be converted to electric over time.

“No one wants Auckland grinding to a halt. Central government needs to work with Auckland to provide its fair share and then give us the tools to pay ours. And that is what I will be pushing for as mayor,” said Phil Goff.

Goff: Council staff should have a living wage

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff today announced his commitment to introducing a living wage for Auckland Council staff.

He said the initiative should be funded out of savings from cutting waste and duplication from Council, not by increasing rates.

“I support a living wage for Auckland Council staff. Too many people in Auckland are working hard but living in poverty because their wages don’t cover the cost of living,” said Phil Goff.

“Council can’t change that reality for many Aucklanders but it can take responsibility for those it employs directly.

“We are aiming to save tens of millions of dollars through finding efficiencies in Council operations. One of the beneficiaries of those savings should be Council staff who are currently paid less than a living wage (currently $19.80).

“This ought to be a priority ahead of salary increases for senior staff earning higher incomes.

“Other Councils and a number of progressive private sector employers are already committed to paying their staff a living wage. Auckland Council too should lead by example. Its obligations as a good employer should include paying people a wage that at least meets the basic cost of living.

“Auckland is the country’s most expensive city to live in. We have to recognise that in how we treat our staff.

“The advantage of treating employees decently includes real economic benefits for Council which offset a higher wage bill. These include reduced turnover, reduced absenteeism and sick leave, increased productivity and improvements in the quality of job applicants.

“The policy covers directly employed Council and CCO staff. Consideration will be given later to the implications of requiring Council contractors to pay their staff a living wage.

“Covering directly employed Council and CCO staff is estimated to cost just over $4 million a year in additional wages.

“Previous attempts to introduce a living wage for Council employees did not gain majority support from Councillors. As Mayor, I will have one vote. However, I expect that more Councillors will support this policy if it is contingent on being funded out of efficiency savings and it is restricted to staff directly employed by the Council,” said Phil Goff.

Housing policy to tackle housing supply, affordability and homelessness

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff wants the new council to focus on faster and cheaper building consents as part of the drive to increase housing supply, more affordable housing schemes, and a co-ordinating role to tackle homelessness.

He today released a policy designed to increase Auckland’s housing supply by encouraging growth up and out as well as seeking new funding sources to help ease the housing crisis.

“The current Council has done its bit by passing the Unitary Plan. It is now up to the incoming Council to ensure Auckland grows while protecting our green spaces and heritage,” said Phil Goff.

“As Mayor, I will institute an immediate review to determine how Auckland Council’s consenting processes can be made faster, cheaper and in line with world best practice. This is an area where Council can make a major contribution towards the construction of more affordable homes.

“I will also work with central government to find innovative ways to help local government meet the high costs of supplying infrastructure to support new development. One of the options is infrastructure bonds. While the Government is heading in the right direction with its Housing Infrastructure Fund, it needs to be expanded and that’s something I will advocate for on behalf of Aucklanders.

“Auckland is a wonderful place to live but it is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many residents. This needs to change if we are to be city where talented and enterprising people want to live and can thrive.  I will put Auckland Council support behind expanding affordable housing schemes, such as what has been achieved at Waimahia.

“An issue which must be addressed is tackling chronic homelessness in our city. Council can coordinate this process by bringing together Government, NGOs and the private sector to apply a ‘housing first’ model which has been very successful in New Zealand and overseas.  The aim will be to eliminate chronic homelessness,” said Phil Goff.

The comprehensive housing policy released today addresses both the supply and demand side of Auckland’s housing market by:

Developing disincentives to land banking with the inclusion of ‘use it or lose it’ clauses on approvals and consents.

Putting Auckland Council support behind affordable housing schemes.

Advocating for Government to get tougher on property speculation including extending the bright line test.

Advocating for Government to requiring foreign investors to build new homes rather than buying existing ones.

Encouraging Government to consider pulling back from our record migration levels until infrastructural developments have caught up with population growth.

Exploring options with Government to address constraints on the supply of material and skills.

“Auckland is in the grip of a housing crisis. There is no easy solution and Council alone certainly cannot fix the problem.  As Mayor I will work in partnership with central government, the private sector and other stakeholders to tackle the crisis.  To make a difference we need all of these parties working together,” said Phil Goff.

Goff releases Million Trees Programme policy

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff has today released the first part of his environmental policy which will see a million extra trees and shrubs planted in and around the Auckland region to address environmental concerns and increase green cover.

“As Mayor, I will embark on an urban forestation drive, the Million Trees Programme, which aims to plant a million, predominantly native, trees and shrubs across Auckland over the next three years,” said Phil Goff.

“The Million Trees Programme will see Auckland Council provide practical support and coordination so that current planting programmes can be expanded.

“Many organisations like schools, the Department of Conversation, private entities and NGOs, local boards and social groups, to name a few, already do great work in this space but there is a role for Council to be involved as well.

“The Million Trees Programme has a budget of $1 million a year and will be used to provide practical support but costs will be offset by partnering with businesses and iwi.

“Council will work with Local Boards and encourage them to lead tree planting projects in their communities. I want this to be a community-led programme because our local communities know best what the needs are in their areas.

“Planting more trees, especially riparian planting, will improve the health of our harbours and rivers by preventing erosion and reducing siltation in the Hauraki Gulf, the Kaipara and Manukau Harbours, and our rivers and streams.

“Afforestation will also help combat climate change and go some way towards ensuring New Zealand meets its obligations under the Paris Conference on Climate Change.

“Planting more trees will help beautify and purify our city. It is a win-win for everyone,” said Mr Goff.

New Fiscal Policy to ensure Auckland Council does more with less

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff has today released a fiscal policy designed to restrict rate rises to an average of 2.5 percent, introduce a major new programme to drive savings across Auckland Council and restore public confidence in its management of ratepayer money. 

“The Mayor’s first responsibility to the people of Auckland is to make sure the city is managed in a fiscally responsible way. Unfortunately trust and confidence in the Council has fallen to a very low level and the expected savings from amalgamation have not been made over the past six years,” said Phil Goff.

“Under my leadership, that will change.  I will lead a Council focused on cutting fat from the system, responding more effectively to the needs of residents and providing more transparency around the spending of ratepayers’ money.”

This includes requiring each Council department to make savings that would contribute to a new efficiency target of at least 3 percent of overall spending.  A particular focus will be on combining Council and Council Controlled Organisation’s procurement systems and progressively moving towards shared services for the Group in terms of back office functions such as finance and HR.

The overall fiscal policy provides a comprehensive response to the challenges facing Auckland, including:

  • Keeping rate rises to an average of 2.5 percent or less per annum (based on current Council fiscal projections)
  • Launching a 3-6 percent efficiency drive across Council
  • Changing Council culture to make it more effective and responsive
  • Retaining the city’s strategic assets while considering the sale of surplus, non-strategic assets
  • Working with central government to expand its Infrastructure Fund and investigate infrastructure bonds

“While more than half of New Zealand’s growth is in Auckland, the extra GST and income tax collected goes to central Government. I will advocate for Auckland to get its fair share of that extra revenue to pay for servicing that growth.

"To reduce the risk of even greater gridlock and a worsening housing crisis, we need an additional $17-20 billion for core infrastructure to support future urban land areas.  It is inappropriate and unfair to fund that solely through the blunt tool of raising rates.  We need to find alternative innovative funding sources such as sharing more Government revenue with Council, public-private partnerships or raising infrastructure bonds.  

“I will also advocate for the removal of the flat levy on rates to pay for a shortfall in transport infrastructure funding in favour of a road charge. This could be in the form of a petrol tax that is later replaced by a congestion charge or toll.  It is only fair that those who benefit most from using the roads contribute to the cost of reducing congestion. 

“Implementing this fiscal policy will be an important step towards restoring ratepayer and Government confidence in Auckland Council by ensuring that in future it works effectively and efficiently in the best interests of the people of this city,” said Phil Goff.

Unitary Plan charts new and right direction for Auckland City

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff has today supported the overall thrust of the recommended Auckland Unitary Plan but accepts that some change in detail may be needed as Council considers the recommendations.
 
“The plan provides a unique opportunity to make the important changes needed to improve the lives of Aucklanders so that we can all enjoy living and raising our families in this fantastic city,” said Phil Goff.
 
“With more than three-quarters of a million extra people expected to be living in Auckland within the next 25 years, it is clear that Auckland has to move up and out.”
 
Transport and housing are the two most critical challenges facing the city. They must be tackled together which is why intensification around town and city centres, transport hubs and arterial routes is critical.
 
“Auckland is no longer a large provincial city. It is a small global city and the solutions we apply to it should follow the best practice applied in other successful cities around the world.
 
“We need an oversupply of land to bring soaring property prices under control and to ensure that housing remains affordable for Auckland residents.  The Kiwi dream of home ownership must be kept alive and rents also kept at reasonable rates.
 
“Intensification comes with pre-conditions. It must be accompanied by good transport infrastructure or gridlock will worsen. There must be good urban design so that we have a city we can be proud of with plenty of green and public open space.
 
“Heritage and environmental protection is critical. We don’t want the city to lose the best of its character buildings and sense of history. We must protect the iconic features of our environment such as the harbour and volcanic cones that make our city unique.
 
“On its own, the Unitary Plan won’t solve all of the problems this city faces. Land supply is critical but infrastructure funding to service that land is just as important. Infrastructure bonds and a much expanded Infrastructure Fund are essential.
 
“The Government also has a role to play in restoring an affordable home building programme while Council must ensure that resource and building consents are processed quickly and efficiently to minimise delays which add further cost pressures.
 
“In the short term, demand control measures are also critical for us to allow infrastructure development to catch up with demand. Measures to curb rampant speculation, redirection of foreign investment into new builds, and easing record immigration levels are other steps that should also be taken.
 
“It is vital that Council and Government work together to find and implement the solutions needed to create a better Auckland,” said Mr Goff.

Blog - A visit to Coco’s Cantina

Today I visited Coco’s Cantina, a great little restaurant up on K Rd, to meet with its proprietors and talk to them about the problems they have had in dealing Auckland Council.

It was a delight to meet Renee and Damaris, both hard working business owners who have spent years putting a lot of time, money and effort into Coco’s. Given what an institution Coco’s has become in the Auckland dining scene, it is clear their efforts are paying off.

I was appalled to hear about the constant struggles they have had with red tape and inflexibility in dealing with Council. From problems with getting signage up, to issues with hosting an anniversary party, to trying to merge their liquor licences and trying to get their kitchen expanded, at every step Council seemed to find a reason to say no.

What Renee and Damaris complained about in their dealings with Council, I’ve heard time and again from many small and medium business owners. The culture in Auckland Council is not conducive to running a business smoothly. The ‘can-do’ attitude is missing from Council, instead there seems to be a ‘can’t do’ attitude which is hugely frustrating for all concerned. These barriers stop businesses from thriving and reaching their potential – the ultimate losers of this are the people of Auckland.

There is no sense that Council responds to people as valued clients or customers yet it is people like Renee and Damaris that pay the rates that allow Council to function. The culture of Council needs to change. Right now, Auckland Council is an organisation that is viewed with a lot of hostility. A recent survey showed only 17 percent of Aucklanders trusted Council. That’s not good enough.

Council needs to become more customer orientated, flexible and ready to find solutions. Those who work in Council need to be empowered to help the residents and ratepayers of this city. Councils are elected by the people of Auckland to serve their needs. Changing the culture of the Council will also be good for the people that work for it. We need to make Council an organisation which its employees are proud to say they are working for.

There are great businesses in Auckland and more great ones that are starting up. If we want them to thrive, Council has to enable their success. 

Infrastructure fund makes way for new partnership

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff welcomes the announcement of the Housing Infrastructure Fund noting it sets the precedent for Government and councils to work together to address the housing crisis.

The Government today announced a $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund for five councils to bid to help with new infrastructure for new housing projects.

“This is an important first step because it means central government is acknowledging the scale of the crisis and is stepping up to help Council,” Phil Goff said.

“The amount itself is not very much when split five ways and will be used quickly. But the fund sets the precedent for central government and councils to work together.

“Auckland needs tens of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure and the Council alone cannot raise this so I am pleased the Government is coming on board to help with much needed infrastructure.

“The housing problem, just like transport, cannot be fixed by Council alone. This is why the ability to work with central government is a vital skill for the in-coming mayoral. As mayor, it would be a priority for me to bring together all the stakeholders to work together constructively,” Mr Goff said.

Goff welcomes recommendation for alternative port location study

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff says the starting point for any alternative port location study must be that further reclamation of the Waitemata by Auckland’s port is ruled out.

EY today released the Port Future Study which notes further investigations to find an alternative port location is needed and a monitoring regime should be put in place to determine optimal time for the move.

“I made it quite clear when I released my Ports policy last month that I will not support any further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour and a detailed study is needed to determine the Port’s new home. I welcome the fact that the study has reached similar conclusions,” Phil Goff said.

"It is clear from the study, the conclusion reached is that the demand generated by a million more Aucklanders, by 2050, will exceed the capacity of the port to operate on its current footprint. Unless Aucklanders want the port to encroach further into the harbour, alternative sites will ultimately become necessary. 

"Any decision has to be made within the context of regional and national needs and a decision of this size needs input from central government.  That discussion needs to involve the ports of Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei. 

"What is important is that the decision takes account of what the wider region needs, not in five years, but in fifty years time.  A decision on that long term strategy will be needed sooner rather later in order to create certainty for investment and development planning," Mr Goff said.

Thin Blue Line stretched to breaking point

With population in Auckland increasing by over 40,000 a year, just five new police constables have been added to the Police force across Auckland over the last five years, says Auckland Mayoral candidate, Phil Goff.

“In 2012, Police numbers across Auckland’s three Police Districts were 2575, according to Police Minister Judith Collins. By 2016, that number had increased by just five to 2580, an average of one a year.

“The Police Minister also admitted that over the last four years, only one year saw an increase in Police funding across the country above the level of inflation,” Phil Goff said.

“In our city and beyond, the Police are no longer able to do what we expect of them.  As a result, over the last five years, crime resolution rates for high volume offending like burglaries and vehicle theft have got worse every year.

“In the latest year, the Police Minister was able to provide figures for resolution rates for burglaries in Waitemata were 7.5 percent, for Auckland City 6.2 percent and Counties Manukau 8 percent. In other words, about 93 percent of burglars committing these crimes were getting away with it. These are the worst figures on record.

“Latest crime statistics for Auckland released yesterday showed that in almost every category crime rates over the last year have been getting worse.

“It’s little wonder that when people have sought help to recover items like cell phones which were robbed from them and they have tracked down the offenders, Police have said they were unable to help.

“The public deserves better than this and Police need help in staffing and funding to do their job properly as our city’s population balloons”, Mr Goff said.

New ATAP report welcomed

Auckland Mayoral candidate, Phil Goff welcomed the release of the interim Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) report.

“The report acknowledges that a step change is needed in Auckland’s transport planning. What we are doing at the moment is inadequate and will result in a further decline in our network performance by 2026. Worsening congestion and growing gridlock is causing massive frustration and huge productivity losses in Auckland,” Phil Goff said.

“I had a very productive conversation with Transport Minister, Simon Bridges, at his initiative this afternoon. I welcome his recognition that the whole country needs Auckland to succeed and that improved transport systems in Auckland are integral to this.

“The Minister and I agreed to clear away the blame game between Council and Government and that policy must be evidence based and led by an analysis of what will turn around our worsening congestion.

“Adequate funding is critical to putting infrastructure in place to carter for Auckland’s growth. Road pricing will have to be part of that both to raise revenue and influence behaviour. That is a change in the Government’s position and I welcome it.

“The report also recognises the need for a north-western busway that should have been in place as part of the current changes. In recognising that there is growing bus congestion and there is a need for substantial capacity increase in public transport, the report also implicitly points to the need for light rail.

“With tourism numbers growing beyond 3.3 million a year and most coming through Auckland there is also an urgent need for a rapid transit link between the airport and CBD.

“Much more work needs to be done including consideration of infrastructure bonds to meet the multi-billion dollar investment which is needed in our city transport. This report at least heads in the right direction,” Phil Goff said.

Blog - The bursting bubble can explode on our face

The bigger Auckland’s housing price bubble grows, the greater the likelihood it will burst and the worse the consequences for those caught up in it.

That is the warning that leading economists have given as Auckland’s house prices continue to soar. Within a year, the average house price in Auckland will exceed $1 million.

The government has allowed this to happen because it believes that huge inflation in house prices make those fortunate enough to own houses feel better off and more likely to be positive about the government.

However, there are now a growing number even within Government as well as in Opposition who are beginning to see the serious flaws in this strategy.

Veteran funds manager, Bryan Gaynor, a respected economist and economic adviser to Prime Minister Lange in the 1980’s, warns of the parallels with the soaring stock market before it collapsed in 1987.

 People start to believe that the market will never fall and fail to see the warning signs until it is too late, he says. 

There are plenty of examples around the world of crashes in house prices after they have become over inflated. At the start of this decade, for example, house prices in Dublin, Ireland dropped 57per cent in four years and in Nevada, USA by a massive 64 per cent in the six years to 2012.

Median house price in Auckland has nearly doubled since 2009 and people are going heavily into debt to meet the cost.

Housing debt in New Zealand has reached a record level of over $218 billion. If and when a crash comes, it leaves people with mortgages worth more than the price of their property and in financial crisis. It also results in a huge slump in consumer spending which would push the country into serious recession. 

A number of factors could cause the bubble to burst.  When interest rates go up, people with huge mortgages will struggle with the cost of servicing them. If migration flows change, for example with the recovery of the Australian economy, or if our economy suffers from some external shock like a slump in the Chinese or American economies, that could trigger a major drop in house prices.
Some economists and long-time property investor Olly Newland say that the property bubble is now too far advanced to fix. I hope for the sake of New Zealanders that is not correct. 

What should the Government have been doing? Firstly, after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 they let the building industry sink to a level that it has taken years to recover from. The Government needed to intervene to sustain building levels during the recession. That would have allowed them to acquire new houses relatively cheaply, build houses to meet the inevitable rise in cyclical demand and would have helped alleviate the effects of recession. 

Secondly, by allowing demand to far exceed supply of housing, in part through record levels of migration into Auckland, Government ensured that housing prices would soar. All governments in the past have moderated migration to levels that infrastructure can cope with.  They have increased migration in line with our ability to cater for housing and transport needs. 

The Government has not attempted to ease pressure because it relied on immigration to hold up New Zealand’s GDP level.

Thirdly, as house price inflation has soared government has done almost nothing to stop the rush of speculative activity, domestic and foreign, which has caused house prices to rise even further. 

As a member of the reforming Labour Government of the 1980s, I support a market economy. However, I also know that there is market failure and governments need to intervene when necessary to counteract that. Governments also need to intervene to ensure socially fair outcomes, such as by preventing homelessness.

Current Government policy pays no attention to these needs. As a result, we have an unsustainable house price bubble which, if and when it bursts, may have devastating consequences for all of us.

First published in the Indian Newslink on 14 June 2016

Trust survey results a fail for Council

The latest results from the Measuring Auckland Council’s trust and reputation survey shows that Council is failing, says Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff.

Council today released its survey which shows that only 17 percent of Aucklanders trust Council to make the right decisions and only 15 percent are satisfied with Council’s performance.

“Satisfaction with the Council’s performance – across the board – is at rock bottom. The Council is viewed by many as a bloated and unwieldy bureaucracy which ignores the views of Aucklanders while presiding over soaring rates and debt,” Phil Goff said.

“When less than one in five have confidence in Council, that’s a fail.

“The October election has to be a new beginning for Council which needs to be more efficient. Council has to learn to do more with less.

“A vital element in earning back the trust of Aucklanders will be restoring democracy and transparency, where people feel confident that their elected representatives are in the drivers’ seat, responding to their needs as constituents and communities.

“Council needs to be a strong and effective advocate on behalf of Aucklanders, especially when it comes to dealing with central government.

“There needs to be a change in culture. Both the elected arm of Council – the Governing Body – and the administrative arm – the bureaucracy – must work more openly, more efficiently and more effectively.

“If elected Mayor, the hallmarks on my mayoralty will be strengthening democracy, enhancing accountability, greater transparency and doing more with less through better efficiency and effectiveness.

“We need a council that is a transparent, democratic public institution – accountable and responsible to the people of Auckland.”

New transmission pricing unfair on Aucklanders

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff has slammed electricity transmission proposals which would add on average $100 a year to each Aucklander’s electricity bills. He says they are unfair and unwarranted.

 The Electricity Authority is currently consulting on its proposed Transmission Pricing Methodology. If it proceeds, it will apply new pricing to existing and new grid assets. Our costs will go up while South Island generators and major industrial customers will have their costs slashed, Phil Goff said.

 “At the moment transmission costs are shared equally across the country.  Under new proposals, regions furthest from the generators will pay more for the costs of maintaining and adding to the electricity grid.

 “Auckland households, along with low income households in Northland and the West Coast, will face large hikes in their annual electricity costs. Auckland consumers would, on average, experience a 37 percent increase in the transmission costs in their electricity bills. Large generators like Meridian and Contact, and large corporates like Fonterra and Rio Tinto, will increase their profits by millions of dollars.

“New Zealand’s electricity generation was the product of investment by the government - on behalf of all taxpayers- over many decades.  We shared the costs equally so we should share the benefits equally too. 

“The new pricing model ignores the inequality it would create. Communities close to large generation projects already enjoy many economic benefits in terms of added employment and income.

“Under the proposal, Auckland will collectively lose $78 million.  Meanwhile Meridian’s shareholders will benefit by around $57 million, Contact’s by $16 million and Rio Tinto will be $20 million winners.  Households in Auckland, Northland and the West Coast will be paying for the increased shareholder value of Meridian, Contact and Rio Tinto.

“This will see a wealth transfer from those least able to afford it - low income communities in Auckland and Northland, for example – to large, wealthy corporates.  The Government should reject the Electricity Authority’s proposal.”

Transforming Auckland’s waterfront

Relocating Auckland’s port is the best solution for meeting its growing demand for space while freeing up the city’s most valuable waterfront land for exciting residential and commercial opportunities as well as new public spaces, says Mayoral candidate Phil Goff.

Mr Goff today released his policy designed to protect the Waitemata Harbour and find an appropriate alternative site for the Ports of Auckland.

“The Waitemata Harbour is the jewel in Auckland’s crown and must be protected for future generations to enjoy. As Mayor, I will not allow the Port to reclaim more of the harbour. My commitment is to restore Aucklanders’ access to this prime waterfront site so that people rather than imported cars get to enjoy its natural beauty,” said Mr Goff.

“Auckland is at a crossroads and some difficult decisions need to be made. As the city and its population grows, so does the Port’s need for more land and capacity to deal with increased freight volumes. We could continue to fill in the harbour to accommodate that need, but I am absolutely opposed to doing that. Instead, I believe that some, and eventually all, of the Port’s functions should be moved to an alternative site.”

Mr Goff says a final decision cannot be made until financial, technical and environmental considerations relating to alternative port locations can be fully analysed. While there have been many studies done, none have adequately and comprehensively addressed this issue.

“The latest EY study did not have adequate terms of reference or sufficient time to undertake the detailed analysis needed to properly investigate alternative sites. It also lacked input from the wider region and central government.

“It doesn’t make sense to make a unilateral decision for Auckland without considering what the best economic and environmental solution is for the region as a whole. It’s vital that central government is involved in this process.

“My support for relocating the port is based on the success of other cities that have shifted their ports away from their city centres. Wellington, Sydney, Vancouver and London have all demonstrated how you can transform cities by making this change.

“Restoring Aucklanders’ access to their harbours and creating vibrant public spaces along with new residential and high-value commercial areas will transform our city. It will also provide benefits such as reducing congestion caused by heavy trucks moving freight out of the port and city centre. Currently 2000 trucks are clogging the streets and motorways around the Port every day. Over time this will double and create even greater gridlock.

“Ports of Auckland needs certainty to plan ahead and Aucklanders want to realise the vision of a city that is a more vibrant and exciting place to live. While it may take years to move the port, vital decisions about the future of these facilities and the city need to be taken now,” said Mr Goff.

 

Mayoral Candidacy Announcement Speech

22 November 2015

Thank you all for coming today. 

Today I am announcing my candidacy for the Auckland Mayoralty.

I’m standing for Mayor because I believe that together we can create a better Auckland. A city where talent and enterprise can thrive - whether you’re a hip-hop artist, a scientist, a tradie or a businessperson. A city where we care about each other, our environment and our way of life. That’s the city I want to lead.

I owe a lot to Auckland.  I was born in Mt Eden and was raised in Three Kings and Papatoetoe.  I studied at Auckland University and taught there and at AUT. I helped pay my way through school and university by working in Otahuhu at Westfield Freezing Works. That was another level of education.

For three decades I have enjoyed the privilege of representing Aucklanders from Mt Roskill and New Lynn in Parliament.  I thank them for their support.

Mary and I have raised our three children in this city.  Today, all three of them live and work here. Mary and I, and a dog named Belle, live on a small farm in Ardmore. We love Auckland and appreciate all the good things about the city.  For us, it’s enjoying the countryside, fishing and relaxing at Orere Point, or catching a concert in the city.

Over the years, I have seen Auckland grow and change.  It has become more diverse and dynamic.  As the city has grown so too have the opportunities and choice for learning, work and recreation. We are an internationally competitive city and the best chance New Zealand has to attract and keep talented people in this country.

A million Kiwis live overseas on a long-term basis.  On average, about 50,000 of our best and brightest people leave every year.  Auckland is the place that can attract those Kiwis back here to live and raise their families.

The late scientist and entrepreneur Sir Paul Callaghan talked of making New Zealand a place where talent wanted to live. He got it absolutely right.

My vision is of Auckland unleashing itself as a creative, innovative and entrepreneurial city.  It should be a centre of learning and a centre of culture.  A city rich in diversity and proud of its Maori, Pasifika, European, Asian and other heritage.  A place that attracts and nurtures talent and enterprise. As we grow, we must be a city where trade and investment can thrive. Where business is easy to do.

This is a city that should be producing more high-tech, high-paid jobs. New Zealand is 6th in the world in publishing high-tech research reports. But it’s only 63rd in high-tech manufacturing output. We need measures to promote R&D investment and venture capital to translate good ideas into successful and job creating export enterprises.

We want more places like the Media Design School which is the number one ranked 3D animation, visual effects and game development school in the Asia Pacific Region.  Or Auckland University’s Power Electronics Group which has produced world leading technology for charging electric cars by induction.

There’s a lot to attract good people and good enterprises to Auckland. We have a beautiful natural environment, framed by our spectacular coastline, harbours, our maunga, islands and regional parks.  Those are assets that must be respected and protected for generations to come.

We need to make Auckland a place where our urban environment and lifestyle matches the quality of our natural environment. Good urban design and protecting our green open spaces is vital as the city intensifies.

We must be an inclusive city.  Where diversity brings richness not division.  A place where people don’t have to live in gated communities with poverty and homelessness on their doorstep. Where people can earn an income they can actually live on. A place where every Aucklander can reach their full potential.

To realise this vision, we must confront the challenges head-on.  While we have made progress, we have also missed valuable opportunities.  Mayor Robbie was right all those years ago.  We needed to anticipate the future and plan for it.  Instead, too often, we have responded after the event and continue to do so.

Our infrastructure has not kept up with growth. Our roads are congested.  Without the investment we need, the gridlock will just get worse, causing even more frustration, pollution and lost productivity.

We need to do more than just finish the motorway network. We need to get on with the city rail link to double passenger capacity and deal with congestion at Britomart.  We need light rail on the isthmus, in the East and out to the airport.  We need more bus-ways like the Northern Expressway. We need greater ability for people to walk and to cycle safely to school and work.  That’s how kids used to get to school.

Funding for this infrastructure can’t just come out of rates.  Auckland pays its fair share and will continue to do so. But the Government must also provide funding to meet the needs of growth. After all, a large portion of the Government’s revenue comes from taxes paid by Aucklanders.  It must bring the funding forward to anticipate future needs rather than waiting until gridlock paralyses this city.

This is an investment that will pay dividends to all of New Zealand in the future. Auckland must succeed for New Zealand to succeed.

It’ll be my job as Mayor to make sure that message gets through.

It’s the same for housing.  Median house prices in Auckland have gone up by over $180,000 in the last year.  The Kiwi dream of owning your own home is slipping out of the reach of more and more Aucklanders.  We are now in the world’s top ten least affordable cities. 

There are ways to bring supply and demand in housing back into balance and Auckland should be strongly advocating for those solutions.  Policies that give the building industry confidence and certainty to gear up for construction. Policies that put home buyers ahead of speculators. More intensive housing in the city and along arterial routes is needed.  But that must be balanced by good urban design, plenty of public open space and protection for areas of high heritage value.

We need to enhance and sustain our environment.  We should be opening up our harbours to people, not extending the port further into the Waitemata to create parking spaces for imported cars. We have to address pollution, silting in the Gulf and harbours and protect our access to recreational fishing.  We need an urban forestry programme to green our city.

Last but absolutely not least, for Auckland to succeed, it must operate effectively and efficiently.  The Super City was supposed to eliminate bureaucratic duplication and waste.  It’s fallen short of that target.

Council spent half a million dollars on two reports released last week saying we should privatise our strategic assets.  That was a waste. Aucklanders don’t want that. Privatising Watercare would double water charges to Aucklanders.  I won’t let that happen.

Under my leadership, we will be fiscally prudent. We will learn to do more with less. Rate increases have to be brought under control and offset by cutting waste and finding savings.

We need to put our own house in order and make Auckland New Zealand’s best performing city. When we do that, we are in a stronger position to leverage Government resources to meet the needs created by rapid growth.

As Mayor, I will bring new leadership, energy, integrity, and commitment.

Auckland needs someone with skills and political experience.   Thirty years as an MP and Cabinet Minister has given me a unique set of skills. I’ve led teams of diverse people and led large organisations tackling complex issues on tight budgets.

I know how central government works and what it takes to make it responsive to our needs.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers – no one does.  But I have a record of sound judgement and doing the job I am entrusted with.

I am running as an Independent.  I want to bring an inclusive approach to the Mayoralty and forge a team that works well together for the benefit of this city.

The solutions to our city’s problems are not ideological.  They must be evidence-driven.  I will work with any Government, National or Labour led, to get the best deal for Auckland.  The interests of the city and its people will come first. And I will be their fiercest advocate.

Above all, I want to lead a council that remembers that it is a public, democratic and transparent institution – and accountable to Aucklanders.

It is still 10 months before Aucklanders cast their votes.  Today is about announcing my candidacy, not launching my campaign.  That’ll happen much closer to the election when I set out my policy platform.

But in the meantime, know that I understand being Mayor of Auckland is a huge and demanding challenge. 

It is also a privilege, a privilege to help to make a difference, and to help to create a better Auckland, so this city is world leading in the quality of life it offers its people.

I’m working for a better Auckland. 

A city where talent and enterprise will thrive.

A city that preserves what is good and adapts to meet the challenges of the future.

This city that we call home.

The great city of Auckland.

And today, I ask you to join me.

Thank you.

Authorised by Phil Goff, 59 High St, Auckland