Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Did You Find A New “King” For Auckland?

The Herald on Sunday gave five people the chance to say what they would do if elected Mayor (or King as they called it) of Auckland. I guess next week’s edition will have the five potential Queens?

If I was running for Mayor, here’s how I would answer the questions.

1) What’s your solution to reported levels of foreign ownership of residential property:
Be clear on what the issues for Auckland Council are: Auckland needs to help contain the speed and level at which houses prices are rising (whoever is buying). The Government sets the rules for foreign ownership, and a good place to start is working out what the facts are.

2) What’s one thing to help solve the housing shortage:
Transfer the ‘can-do’ attitude that exists within the Housing Project Office, which has been set up to deal with Auckland’s Special Housing Areas, to the existing resource and building consenting areas. While waiting for land supply release and other unitary plan changes to work through, this could immediately improve the day-to-day experience of people trying to get houses built. If one part of council can do it, so can another.

3) Would you cap the rate rise:
Yes, Auckland Council’s Rating Policy should be changed to limit base rates increases to the rate of inflation. But council’s inflation rate is higher than the consumer price index because it doesn’t buy the same things as households. Let’s agree that number and include it in the Rating Policy. Any additional “growth” or special project funding should be specifically consulted on and approved by ratepayers via the Annual Plan process.

4) Would you cut major projects:
I don’t need a full briefing on this unlike Phil Goff because as with others who have been part of Council for nearly five years we see the opportunities here. It’s less the major projects that need cutting but more the vast array of minor projects. Much better prioritisation is key to reducing spending along with much more meaningfully involving local boards in the decisions about what we defer or cut.

5) What is more important – a bigger road network/new roads or more bus lanes/cycle paths/walking paths:
The first priority is better use of what we have, rather than just bigger/more. This includes some road upgrades, like Lake Road in Devonport, but also quicker completion of the shared cycle way on Tamaki Drive and expanded busways in the north-west and future rail planning south and elsewhere.

6) Why would you be a good Mayor:
This isn’t time for learning on the job. Auckland needs a new Mayor who both knows the issues, has a plan to deal to them and a strong framework in place to make better decisions. If I stood for Mayor, my advantage is detailed experience over the last 5 years on council of both the problems with the current plans, and the solutions. Auckland also needs a Mayor with both broad community leadership experience and a solid business/complex organisation background.

Let’s see what the women say next week!

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