Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Maurice for Mayor gains support

Those on the right say MP for Pakuranga could be 'circuit breaker' for local government in Super City.

Maurice Williamson has been a National MP since 1987 and is considering running for Mayor of Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Maurice Williamson has been a National MP since 1987 and is considering running for Mayor of Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

The political right is already hailing the prospect of Maurice Williamson as Mayor of Auckland as a potential "circuit breaker" for local government in the Super City after the National MP yesterday confirmed he was considering running.

MP for Pakuranga since 1987, Mr Williamson told the Herald he was "getting a lot of approaches from a lot of people wanting me to stand for the mayoralty".

"At this point I'm doing nothing other than just giving it some consideration. I have made no decisions whatsoever."

But centre-right councillor Cameron Brewer was enthusiastic about the possibility Mr Williamson would run against current Mayor Len Brown this year, a prospect he said had been talked about for some time before yesterday.

"It would really energise the centre right and could be a game changer and a circuit breaker for local government in Auckland.

"One thing Maurice has got that people look to in mayors is experience and he's got 26 years' experience."

That experience included stints in several ministerial portfolios pertinent to the mayoralty in Auckland such as building and construction and transport.

"He's been around, he's got a huge following in the southern part of the region, he understands the issues, and he would be a clear alternative to Len Brown," said Mr Brewer.

"Where he could really push is a dramatic improvement in the relationship with Wellington."

Mr Brewer said the relationship between Auckland's local government and central government was at its worst since the late 70s.

"Maurice could try and mend some bridges on issues such the central rail loop, alternative transport funding, unitary plan issues and the vexed issue of how to address Auckland's housing affordability."

Should Mr Williamson confirm his candidacy soon, it was unlikely other centre-right contenders would emerge, as "Maurice would probably have the best chance out of anyone".

Blogger Cameron Slater, an old friend and admirer of Mr Williamson said that if the Pakuranga MP did run, that could trigger an end to the National Party's policy of not directly involving itself in local body politics.

"There should be no shame associated with that. Labour and the Greens unashamedly campaign under their own banner so I think that makes a huge step in local body politics to finally have the National Party commit rather than being a wolf in sheep's clothing under Citizens and Ratepayers."

Labour's Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford hoped Mr Williamson decided against it.

"The last time we had a National Party MP looking for a retirement job, it was John Banks, and it was a complete disaster.

"We don't want to go there again - I think it's a case of once bitten, twice shy."

Asked for comment, Mr Brown said through a spokesman that he was "focused on being the mayor for Auckland" and he was "leaving these matters" to his campaign machine.

Mr Brown has yet to confirm he will stand for a second term.

- NZ Herald

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