Phil Goff will find that being Mayor isn’t like being an opposition MP

Phil Goff is spouting off a lot at the moment, as well he might when he has the President of the National party’s wife in his back pocket and a little band of supporters who are also Act party members.

But, the patience of ministers is wearing thin.

Richard Harman at Politik explains:

Government patience with the Auckland Council may be beginning to run out.

Minister Steven Joyce and Transport Minister Simon Bridges are thought to be applying pressure to the Council to get its house in order.

While over the weekend Mayor Phil Goff was trumpeting an imminent announcement on congestion charging for the city, it appears that the announcement will simply be the terms of reference for the inquiry into congestion charging.

That follows on the Auckland Transport Alignment Project agreement between the Government and the Council which was signed in September last year.  

It does not bring forward the introduction of congestion charging.

Instead, in the short term, the Government wants to see the Council put itself in a position to provide more funding and to be able to borrow more to fund transport projects.

On Friday, Finance Minister Steven Joyce told the Auckland Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association that the Government was waiting for the Council to take steps which would allow it to raise its debt limit.

Those steps would be a belief by the Government that the Council needs to cut its costs.

But instead, the emphasis from the Council has been on raising revenue through devices like last week’s targeted rate for hotels and motels.

The rate is being billed as a “bed tax” but strictly speaking, it’s not.

It would implement a targeted rate on commercial accommodation providers based on their capital value. This could see a 150% to 300% rates increase for businesses.

This means it will not apply equally to competing for accommodation providers in the city.

The backlash from that sector is likely to be intense.

The backlash won’t just be intense it will be nasty. Third party campaigns are being planned as a result.

Goff told TV3’s “The Nation” over the weekend that the Council worked under a debt to revenue ratio which means it cannot borrow more than 265% of its revenue.

“We’re already at about 256%,” he said.

Joyce has indicated the Government is willing to help the Council raise the limit.

But privately Joyce is making it clear he wants to see the Council start to cut some of its costs before he agrees to do that.

Goff, in the same interview on “The Nation” suggested that the Government could return to Auckland a proportionate share of the GST paid in the city.

But, again, that will meet with the same reception in Joyce’s office.

Frosty, I imagine.

Phil Goff is finding out that being Mayor of Auckland is actually a lame duck position. Sources say that’s why his missus is now putting pressure on him to jack it in.


– Politik

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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