Phil Goff on addressing Auckland's housing shortage without upsetting the NIMBYs; getting cosy with the Government; giving Auckland Council more decision-making powers & implementing road tolls

Phil Goff on addressing Auckland's housing shortage without upsetting the NIMBYs; getting cosy with the Government; giving Auckland Council more decision-making powers & implementing road tolls

By Jenée Tibshraeny

Auckland mayoralty candidate and long-time Labour MP, Phil Goff, is expressing some empathy towards Auckland’s inner suburban NIMBYs (not in my backyarders).

Having last month announced he's throwing his hat in the ring for the October 2016 local body elections, Goff says he doesn’t want to see the villas in the likes of Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Mt Eden and Kingsland wiped out.

He would rather housing densification takes place in areas slightly out of the centre city.

“Let’s keep the best of our housing and the places where people love living, and let’s look at the places that are due for urban renewal, but do it around your arterial transport routes and your hubs,” Goff says.

“With intensification – I think we have to allow that to happen. It shouldn’t be as people in the leafy suburbs are fearful of – going in with a bulldozer and knocking over the old villa in the beautiful streets.

“But there’s plenty of places in Auckland where we can have higher density housing, which cuts down the cost of the housing and cuts down the cost of the infrastructure.”

He suggests we need to be looking to develop areas like New Lynn, where a high rise apartment building, Merchant Quarter, has just been built next to the railway station.

He says the car yards near the new interchange between the railway and bus stations in Panmure could also be replaced by high density housing, as the available public transport makes for a quick trip into town.

Goff also suggests some spaces occupied by car yards in Mt Wellington could be transformed into housing.

As well as growing up, he accepts Auckland may need to grow out.

“We don’t particularly want a sprawl, but if we get really big growth, you’ve got to allow that outward pressure as well, and you’ve got to stop that massive explosion in prices around the rural-urban boundary,” he says.

Goff pledges to get the central government support Brown’s missed out on

Goff is confident he can rally central government, which he maintains hasn’t done enough to support Auckland, so it plays a larger role in helping Auckland Council address the city’s housing and transport woes.

He maintains his connections with Labour won’t hamper his ability to get the support the current mayor Len Brown, hasn’t received.

“I know central government. I’ve been a Minister for 15 years. I know what makes them responsive,” he says.

Firstly, the Council needs to get its house in order so it runs more efficiently. Secondly, he says it’s a matter of making the Government aware of the fact it’ll bare the blame of a third of its constituents, if it’s seen to stand in the way of solving Auckland infrastructure problems.

“The Government has to come to the party. We are getting two thirds of the country’s growth. New Zealand can’t succeed unless Auckland succeeds,” he says.

Goff also points to Productivity Commission research which has found Auckland’s traffic congestion sees $1.5 billion worth of productivity wasted each year.

Asked why the Government would suddenly change tack and support the Council, he says, “I think they’re starting to change now. I think they have realised that Auckland is facing huge problems.

“The Government says they still want growth, they still want big immigration. If they want growth and immigration, they’ve got to be prepared to respond by helping meet the infrastructure costs to meet that growth.”

One country, two economies

Agreeing with the statement, ‘New Zealand is a country of two economies’ – Auckland and the rest of New Zealand – Goff believes Auckland Council should be handed more decision-making powers from central government.

He’s adamant one should, “Make your decisions closest to where the information exists to inform those decisions, and closest to where those decisions will impact when they’re put into effect”.

Goff says the Council agency, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has a better understanding of the city’s needs than the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, while Auckland Transport is likewise more in tune than the New Zealand Transport Agency.

“They need to work together with central government, but there needs to be some devolution of responsibility, and of financing, to get the best decisions. It won’t happen overnight, but that should be the long-term principle governing a city the size of Auckland.

“And for Auckland, likewise, maybe to do that to some of its local boards. To devolve some of the decision-making, that is best made in a local suburb, to the local board.”

Tolling over rate hikes and asset sales

Further to getting more financial support from central government, Goff proposes tolls to help fund Auckland’s transport infrastructure.

He supports the user pays system, saying it’s unfair for his elderly father, who doesn’t travel much, to pay for him to frequently use the motorway.

“I don’t think we can avoid that. I would be misleading Aucklanders if I said there’s an easy answer and it doesn’t involve you paying in any way,” he says.

Goff maintains a rates increase isn’t the answer either, with a 1% rise only producing about $14 million – a drop in the ocean when dealing with the likes of the $2.5 billion City Rail Link.

“You’re going to have to put a huge rate rise to try to cover infrastructure out of rates. You can’t do it, the population won’t accept it. I think the mayor is talking about 2.6% at the moment,” he says.

Goff also rules out borrowing to cover operational spending, yet says it’s okay to do so for long-term investment.

He points out credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warns Auckland Council’s credit rating will be downgraded, if it increases its borrowing from where it is now at 260% of operating revenue, to 270%. 

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11
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They should hold a referendum on "Big Immigration" instead of this flag sham.

You only need 10% of voters to petition for it. If you think you have support, get on with organising it. Why do you think "they" must do it? Who is "they"? Whingeing from the sidelines is tiresome.

11
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"They" are the government. Who else can do it?

A citizen's initiated referendum is non-binding, nobody wants to organise anything that will be ignored.

Not nearly as tiresome as hearing about the "Auckland housing shortage". :p

Any that is why comments are so few on this site now....

The big referendum will be here in less than 2 years.

Can ANYONE explain to me how a new toll or tax on Auckland road users is going to alleviate the traffic problem ?

Taxing road users will not stop me going to work or tradies and couriers doing there rounds , it will simply add to the costs of doing business in Auckland

Frankly Goff is just like any of the other 1970's vintage blinkered Communists , all they know is to tax spend other peoples money until they run out of other peoples money to spend

a) Some people won't use the road if they have to pay for it. They may use the train instead, or they may change the time they drive. There are definitely people on the road in rush hour that don't need to be on it.
b) The extra revenue will be used to improve roads and public transport

Pretty simple really. Take away the subsidies and less people will probably use it...

But what worries me about most of the toll proposals I've seen is that they will push people off efficient motorways onto inefficient side roads - what a nightmare. Doesn't mean it can't be done right but I haven't seen a good proposal yet.

Absolutely, Jimbo. Plus, as Goff said, roads should be paid for predominately by those who use them! Simple fairness. I can't understand for the life of me why people are opposed to road tolls - the only explanations seem to be ignorance and shortsightedness.

Auckland council must stop wasteful and fruitless expenditure first and reallocate its income properly

Correct and get away from this notion of equal pay to private enterprise, they "work" for the public service and are funded into their cushy jobs by the rate payer

Er, or is it the other way around? The private sector is encouraged in the delusion that the public sector works for them, when in reality it is the other way round. The private sectors' only reason for existence is to support the public sector.

Time to make the Price of Diesel carry some weighting ... its been discounted by petrol users for many years. Most OECD countries already have diesel priced at the same as petrol or a slight margin less.

At the pump it may look like diesel is less expensive however when you add Road User Charge to the diesel vehicle it works out fairly similar to petrol.

Have you noticed how those who think they are important have to wave their hands around in front of themselves?
There must be a course that CEOs and the like go on where they learn that hand grasping is seen to be something that is common to wondrous visionaries.
"Goff maintains a rates increase isn’t the answer either, with a 1% rise only producing about $14 million – a drop in the ocean when dealing with the likes of the $2.5 billion City Rail Link."
And who is saying that Auckland can afford such a rail tunnel to provide a small additional number of trains which will serve a tiny percentage of the travelling population??????

HOPEFULLY THE LADY THROWS HER HAT INTO THE RING.
FOR A COMPLETE CHANGE OF THINKING

Congratulations Phil Goff, you will absolutely get my vote. Great understanding of the problem, honest and clear proposal of solutions and I believe you, more than any other, have the tools to work in with the governmnent. I hope you will be able to get things done as you say. (National voter living in Auckland)

"Goff says he doesn’t want to see the villas in the likes of Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Mt Eden and Kingsland wiped out. He would rather housing densification takes place in areas slightly out of the centre city"

Has someone proposed wiping out all the villas in these areas for intensification? - the notified Unitary Plan has all these areas single house zoned and much with historic overlay. I'd hope a mayoral candidate would have a basic knowledge of such a fundamental document?