Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A mayoralty, if you’re interested.

On Monday, Victoria Crone announced she would be standing for the Auckland mayoralty and, as the former NZ CEO of high-flyer Xero, was immediately installed by the media as the "business" candidate.

Mind you, being the business candidate doesn't mean you really mean business—nor that running a successful business is  the same as being top dog at a super-sized council spending the proceeds of everyone else's super-sized rates bill.

Even Labour-ite adviser Josie Pagani understands that, pointing out that
If you’re going to stand for political office the minimum requirements must surely include some rationale for your candidacy. You want to do the job because you see a job needing doing. You need to have something sensible to say about topical issues and some guide to what you expect to do in office.
     If you don’t have these minimum contributions to debate, then your candidacy is pointless.
Victoria Crone does not have these minimum contributions to debate. At her launch, she was wholly unable to articulate an actual concrete position on anything, saying in answer to questions on specifics she had "just announced yesterday" so "I'm not getting into policy." That would all come “later.” Translation: “I’ve given it no thought. But I am sort of interested.” [Listen here to her being interviewed, if you're at all interested.]

And on her website, where you might expect at least some answers to some of the big issues? Pagani visited Victoria Crone’s website  to see what she plans for Auckland, "only to find my low expectations wildly overestimated."
There’s about as much substance here as Kanye West’s run for president. She wants to ‘Create Win-Win Situations’, ‘Empower People’ and ‘Lead From A Place of strength’; as if she’s running against a candidate who wants to lose, take power away from you, and be a weak leader.
    Beneath the blandly moronic motivational platitudes  - “I believe anything is possible! (insert emoji) - she lists ‘Issues’: B is for ‘Housing', C is for ‘Transport’. Maybe they’ve changed Sesame Street since I was young.
    These summaries reveal a candidate unprepared for office, lacking vision, and free from any meaningful communication of useful ideas…
    Take ‘A' for 'Fiscal Management’. Correctly observing that many billions of dollars are needed to meet Auckland’s infrastructure needs, while funding sources like rates and debt are constrained, she offers: "few alternative sources of funding have been secured. This is a major problem for our city to solve, amidst perceptions of wastage in council spending.” Yes it’s a problem, so, what would you do, candidate? Reject new spending plans? Borrow more? Are you ruling out rate increases? Will you raise rates just a teeny bit? New taxes? Tolls? Privatising infrastructure?
    Not even a hint of an idea, let alone a fresh one. That’s what makes the platitudes a problem. If you can't answer these most basic of questions about your political principles, you have no place pretending you could lead a major city
It’s a fair point—except to say that every Mayor in Auckland in Auckland in the modern era has achieved the mayoral chains not because they’ve articulated anything at all about their political principles. They’ve simply said they won’t be the last blowhard who held office.
  • Christine Fletcher took office promising not be Les Mills, and she succeeded.
  • John Banks then took office promising not be Christine Fletcher—but was found to be far too much like John Banks, and so was turfed out.
  • So Dick Hubbard campaigned on the basis of not being John Banks, only for the public to realise that he really was a real Dick Hubbard.
  • At which point John Banks won by promising to be neither Dick Hubbard nor the previous John Banks (this was now the new-improved “transmogrified” John Banks), which turned our much as anyone could have predicted.
  • Swiftly realising he wasn’t anywhere as transmogrified as they’d hoped, folk then thought “anyone but Banks” and very quickly found themselves enthusiastically ticking Len Browns’s box. And we all know how that box-tickling turned out.
Which brings us back to A, B, C: Crone—who may or may not have a political principle in her body, but who assuredly has a war chest big enough to tell the city she’s not Len Brown (or Phil Goff), which may be all much of this city really wants to hear before they put pen to voting paper.

Mind you, it would be good to hear at least one candidate of any “side” make the firm, cast-iron promise that they intend to either lower rates below the absurdly high level they are now, or even just to cap them in money terms.

The closest any candidate does come to saying that is Affordable Auckland mayoral candidate Stephen Berry, who apart from also being neither Brown nor Goff al agrees that Voters Deserve Specifics on Rates. But all he can come up with as a pledge is to “keep rates increases below inflation” – which, given their explosive increase in recent years, is like a strangler promising only to suffocate you more slowly.

And even Phil Goff can almost match that, telling Morning Report, "There is a limit to rate increases, and I think we've reached that limit."

To be fair, and unlike Berry, Goff provides few concrete examples of how rates increases might in any way be "limited." But slow suffocation is not any kind of promise on which to hang your mayoral hat.


  1. PC I take your point on board about show strangulation but would also like to mention that inflation is currently a paltry 0.4%

    Stephen Berry

    1. So say there will be no rates increases PERIOD.

      What a contrast that would be to the last few reptiles who've held the post.

    2. We don't need ZERO rates increases. We need everyones rates to be at least HALVED and no-one to pay more than say $2000 per annum. Flat cap across the city.

      And this is absolutely achievable for anyone with an understanding of basic mathematics.

    3. If inflation is only 0.4% thats all the more reason to say there will be NO rate increases period. That's a lot stronger position to differentiate yourself on, and only requires a tiny net reduction.

  2. God forbid we ever see a Mayoral or Council candidate who only talks about: buses, rubbish collection, civil defence, libraries, museums, reserves, recreational facilities and community amenities - (ie: the actual purpose of local government, according to Section 11A of the Local Government Act) - and refuses, point blank, to engage in anything not connected with these functions.

    1. And that's the problem, isn't it? Because NZ is basically a socialist or communist country and everything there is communism.

      Will you stand up and say the simple truth:
      * civil defence is mostly provided by central government
      * rubbish collection should be individual and paid privately by residents
      * buses, libraries, museums, reserves, recreational facilities and community amenities should be sold off and closed down.

      oh and the other big thing on that list, RMA approves
      * a simple website can take $10 per application, check the owner owns the property and always approve them

      Now: what else do you need rates for?


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