Journalist, broadcaster and media personality Bill Ralston has today branched into politics with a campaign launch for a seat on Auckland Council.
The former political correspondent is standing for the Waitemata and Gulf seat held by the left-leaning Mike Lee, who has yet to announce if he will seek a third term on Auckland Council at October's local body elections.
Mr Ralston is standing as an independent, but has close links to the National Party and a new ticket, Auckland Future, trying to win a right-leaning majority on council.
"We've got to the point where the people of Auckland just can't trust this council any more," Mr Ralston said at his campaign launch in Ponsonby this evening.
He said the city has been hamstrung by a lack of true leadership, described the council as "dysfunctional", called the recent debacle over the Unitary Plan a "fiasco" and criticised a high rates rise and "whopping" debt of $7.2 billion.
Among Mr Ralston's ideas are to merge the back office functions of the council and its council-controlled organisations (CCOs) into one unit -- "central government is doing exactly that with its ministries and it's paying off" -- a zero based restructuring of council staff and salaries, and being open to selling down shares in Auckland Airport and Ports of Auckland.
Ports of Auckland land should remain publicly owned, he said, but 49 per cent of the operating business could be sold.
"This city needs three things from its next council. Accountability to the people, tight control over council finances and clear thinking," he said.