Media Party anoints Phil Goff “instant front runner” and “near certain winner”

Phil Goff is the instant front-runner, if not a near certainty, to be the next mayor of Auckland. He starts the race with more name recognition than any other candidate who has entered this far out from the election in 11 months. He is well known to have been a hard-working, competent Cabinet minister in two Labour governments since going to Parliament 34 years ago. He was not captivating as a party leader, and nor is he likely to be if he becomes the frontman for Auckland’s local government, but the Super City had a showman for its first three years and few would want another.

Pointedly, Mr Goff offered to bring “a different personality” to the role in his announcement on Sunday. The pity was that he did not offer much else that was different, or indeed much at all. He promises to eliminate wasteful spending and needless bureaucracy. So do they all. He aims for rate rises no higher than at present. He supports higher density residential development and the central rail link. He will not allow the port to expand but he will not sell it, or even shares in it. He will not sell any “strategic assets”.

Phil is Len without the sleeping around.   He even wants more trains!  

But at least as a minister Mr Goff appeared to be on top of his officials and advisers, and that, more than anything, is what Auckland needs in its mayor. If Mr Brown was exerting authority over the council bureaucracy in his first term, he has been incapable since. Council officers and subsidiary organisations are making decisions that catch elected representatives unawares.

The elected members seem to spend much of every day in meetings where they are given voluminous material to absorb but little to decide. One of them, Christine Fletcher, described their frustrations in an open letter to Mr Goff published in the Herald last month. It brought no response.

Mr Goff would probably have less patience than Mr Brown with the palaver that inflates meeting agendas these days. Auckland urgently needs someone to take control and give the council members something useful to do. Mr Goff may be the right man, but he needs to show he knows what needs to be done.

If the Dark Arts practitioners have anything to say about it, Phil will be an impotent mayor on a largely hostile council.  Let’s see how this will unfold.


– NZ Herald

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