The mocking of Phil Goff has started

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Poor Phil Goff. He’s hardly jumped into his new planet-friendly Nissan Leaf mayoral limousine for a honeymoon whirl around his new city, when old foe John Key punctures the front tyres.

The Prime Minister rubbishes the new Auckland Mayor’s promise of a regional fuel tax to pay for new transport infrastructure, and a 15 per cent tax on foreigners buying existing houses.

Of course, as an old parliamentary veteran, this will have come as no surprise to Goff. He well knows that a mayor – even one representing a Super City containing a third of the nation’s population – is lower in the political pecking order than a prime minister.

Goff has been lying all through the campaign, along with other candidates, promising road tolls, extra harbour crossing and all sorts of other taxes and transport solutions that are completely outside of the power of Auckland Council. ?The lazy, indifferent and complicit Media party have let it all go unchallenged. ? But now Key has poured cold water on it: ?Key says No. ?

Goff was also quick to reiterate his promise to flex his political muscles in the age old tussle between the political and bureaucratic wings of the council. He warned of what could happen to directors of council controlled organisations, if, for instance, the port company were to persist with its desire to continue wharf-creep out into the Waitemata Harbour.

This would be a welcome return to the natural order of things in a democracy. In the jostling for power that occurred during the establishment phase of the new city over the past six years, the politicians lost out to the bureaucrats. Part of this was the deliberate result of the legislation, pushed through by Act leader, Rodney Hide, and designed to keep the politicians as far away from the business side of local government as possible.

But under first mayor Len Brown, even the residual controls left to politicians, such as the appointment of board members to the various CCOs, were not exploited.

When the port company went feral, for example, instead of sacking a board member or three and bringing the council-owned business to heel, the worst they got was an ineffectual mayoral growling.

Goff’s intention to establish a power hierarchy more akin to the parliamentary system where the bureaucrats are ultimately responsible to the minister is a welcome change for the better.

Goff may want an accountable council, but he won’t put up with being accountable himself. ?We saw with Len 1.0 how difficult?it was to get rid of an under-performing mayor, and the councillors are even further from our reach.

This disinterest and feeling of powerlessness is reflected in voter turn-out. ? They get in by being anointed by the Media party who allow the lies to stand unchallenged, and then we just have our pockets emptied.

Phil Goff doesn’t mind any of this of course. ?He can now blame the government for not helping fix Auckland’s?problems.

 

– Brian Rudman, NZ Herald

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