AUCKLAND IS STUFFED—if her mayoral candidates for the coming elections are any guide.
For many years, in election after Auckland mayoral election, it was a sure guarantee of victory to come out with no policy platform at all beyond the single plank: “Vote for me, I’m not the other bastard.”
It’s worked for years: Les Mills was elected on the basis of little more than not being Catherine Tizard. Christine Fletcher was elected on the single platform of not being Les Mills. Following which John Banks was elected on the basis of not being Christine Fletcher, Dick Hubbard was elected solely for not being John Banks—before Mother Hubbard was replaced by a “transmogrified” Banks, solely because he wasn’t the Bran Flake the electorate had inadvertently installed in the mayoral chambers.
And then last time, in the wider Auckland electorate—reeling in horror at the prospect of Emperor Banks presiding over the newer, larger bureaucracy imposed on us by Rodney Hide—elected Len Brown on little more than the single policy position, being: “I’m not John Banks.”
So who’s taking the anti-mayoral baton this time? On the basis of a series in the Herald this morning, no-one. There are five mayoral candidates with actual policies, all of them ranging from foolish to bizarre, and none of the five seem to want to distance themselves from Brown’s mantle—least of all Brown himself.
The endearingly daffy Penny Bright still thinks Auckland is run by the New Zealand Property Council and now as well“the hugely powerful private lobby group the Committee for Auckland.” She is “opposed to user charges for water services,” opposed to “corporate control” of Auckland, and wants “to take back public ownership, operation and control of Auckland passenger transport, and water services. She is, bless her, also opposed to road tolls, or higher rates and fuel taxes, to pay for "improving Auckland's transport system. But she’s not against higher rates for other reasons.
John Minto wants Auckland to be free. Buses will be free; trains will be free; with lashings of free wifi for
Timmy everyone. Paid for, of course, by higher rates on rich pricks—who will not be free. These free buses and free trains, along with the free wifi, will be rolled out by Minto at a rate even faster than Brown or even the Auckland Transport Blog thinks possible, “delivering gridlock-free travel in less than 12 months.” That’s one hell of a magic wand. And it’s not free.
Len Brown himself is really like a combination of the two above: a sort of Minto-Bright Lite. He promises more of the same, only less so—and with some significant sleight of hand about where the money comes to pay for it. Brown’s position still amounts to “Let Them Eat Monuments,” all based around Len’s Loop, while buying us all off (he hopes, strangely) with free swimming pools. He doesn’t plan to lower rates.
It looks like Uesifili Unasa has only one problem with Len Brown. He has no argument with Loopy Len’s monuments, only where they’re being built. He looks like a good old-fashioned pork barrel politician who wants to bring the pork home to South Auckland.Not sure how the rest of Auckland’s ratepayers might feel about that one. But it doesn’t sound like a bargain.
Which leaves the little-known John Palino (well, little known to me, anyway), who is running on a platform of … um … something or other. Yes, I have it here. John is going “to build a new, modern city in Manukau” (with his own hands?); he’s going to investigate Auckland's $59 billion integrated transport programme; he’s going to protect the environment, economy, people, diversity, blah,blah, blah.
He doesn’t “want to change the city,” “just to fix those aspects we know are frustrating Aucklanders - issues such as congestion, public transport access, rates increases, housing affordability and council inefficiencies.” How’s he going to fix them? By building satellite cities “paid for from the future rates revenue stream new businesses and residents provide.” Well, at least he’s said how he plans to pay for them.
But he doesn’t plan to lower rates.
So there you go. About as much real choice as their is for home-owners under Loopy Len’s Unitary Plan.
Frankly, it seems s real tribute to Brown’s ability to hoodwink most of the people virtually all of the time that no-one is running on a “I’m Not Len Brown” ticket—because with policies almost indistinguishable from Brown’s in their generality, and just as batty in their loopiness, none of his four opponents seem to want anything very much different to the quo that Brown has so successfully made status.
And no-one at all is running on getting down the ballooning rates and spending bill.
For that, you’ll have to vote for Affordable Auckland candidates in your local wards.