What our Auckland mayoral candidates want to offer our communities

We asked seven Auckland mayoral candidates how they would help some of our communities and their issues. Here are their responses.

Phil Goff

Auckland City mayoral candidate Phil Goff. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland City mayoral candidate Phil Goff. Photo / Dean Purcell

Seniors: Unsustainable rates of population growth, rates pressures on people who have assets but limited income and road congestion without adequate public transport service are the issues most frequently raised with me by seniors. I believe we should ease migration rates while infrastructure catches up. I believe that road pricing, starting with a regional petrol tax, would be fairer than relying on rates, especially for seniors who aren't regular commuters. Better public transport, including rail, light rail and buses, is important to those who may not be able to continue to drive.

Families: One of the biggest challenges facing families is housing affordability, especially for first home buyers. Implementing the Unitary Plan to ensure land supply matches demand, and getting fairer support from government to meet the cost of infrastructure to service new housing, will ease housing costs.

I will be pressing government to partner with the private sector to build affordable "starter" homes. I will also advocate for the government to reduce demand pressures by requiring overseas investors to build new rather than buying up existing houses, curb speculation and ease migration to reduce pressure on housing until supply can catch up. Providing parks and playgrounds so kids can access public open spaces is increasingly important as the city housing intensifies.

Homeless: With hundreds of people now sleeping rough in the CBD, and around the city, we need to address the worsening problem of homelessness. For the chronically homeless, where housing problems are worsened by addiction, mental health or indebtedness, we need a policy of housing them first and then providing wraparound services to address the things that caused them to be homeless. This is a proven and effective strategy which the council can lead, co-ordinating efforts of government departments, NGOs and the private sector. We need to address overall housing shortages which are forcing families to double up in homes or sleep in garages.

Ethnic: Auckland is one of the world's most multicultural cities. We should celebrate the richness that different cultures, cuisine and festivals create. Pasifika, the Lantern Festival, Diwali and Eid are all public celebrations today which hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders enjoy. We need to help new migrants settle quickly and to address issues of prejudice so that diversity brings benefits, not divisions. Existing and new communities need to feel they are safe from crime.

Motorists: It is estimated that the average commuter now spends up to the equivalent of 20 working days a year stuck in congestion. It costs us billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and other costs. We need a strong public transport system to reduce road congestion. Working with government and increasing its funding for transport infrastructure to ease road congestion is vital. We will also need some form of road pricing to support the cost of new infrastructure. We need the City Rail Link to double rail capacity, new busways and light rail. Bringing forward rapid transport from the city to the airport is vital as tourist numbers increase beyond three or four million a year. We need cycleways, especially to allow kids to once again be able to ride to school. Parents driving their children to schools add 10 per cent more congestion in morning peak hours.

Vic Crone

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Seniors: I'd like to stop the ridiculous rates rises we've seen eating up the savings and largely fixed incomes of seniors. Secondly, I will support the council working with good providers of social housing for older people to strengthen the current stock and availability. I'll advocate for the government to reinstate its support of subsidised Gold Card travel around Auckland, which now has to be paid by the council. To do that we have to collect better information on use so we can report clearly how much funding we need and where. Finally we have to communicate changes better. The AT Hop Card switchover was an example of where improvements are needed.

Families: As well as keeping rates low, I won't support a petrol tax or congestion charge, which will hit families the most. My plan to get council spending more wisely will mean services like libraries, parks, and leisure facilities don't suffer the service cuts we've seen of late. I have a 10-point plan to support more homes being built so more families have the opportunity to own their own home. I've also seen some fantastic examples of affordable housing projects and would like to work with the Government and social capital providers to boost these projects.

Homeless: We've been talking about solving homelessness for decades. We now have a more diverse group of people we'd class as homeless than we've never seen before, including working families. That's plain wrong in a city like ours. Partnering with the government to support social housing and emergency housing providers is the best way we can make a difference. I'd like the council to champion a comprehensive collaborative solution and that doesn't mean they have to be the organisation to deliver. It's clear that the council doesn't have the capability to do this on its own, and when it tries, it falls short.

Ethnic: I absolutely believe in a city that is inclusive and values the benefits diversity offers us. At the moment we have politics and a system that is very divisive. We're seeing the ugly results every day with blaming and prejudice in the comment columns and in the news.I'd like to change that. It starts at the top with a mayor who has the right attitude and works to find commonalities and a shared vision to unlock the benefit of this diversity. Then we can focus on how we power up communities to service different needs. This is the kind of leader I've been throughout my career in the real world.

Motorists: Most Aucklanders are reliant on vehicles not by choice, but by circumstances and location. So there is no way in this climate I will support a regional petrol tax or congestion charging. There are seven transport projects I will bring forward across the region to help reduce congestion. As well as public transport, these include roading projects like Lake Rd on the North Shore, the Ameti project in the east, Penlink on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Mill Rd in South Auckland and a second harbour crossing. Overlaying this is my drive for the council to use technology and real-time data to allow our transport to become more flexible with demand.

Chloe Swarbrick

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Seniors: I will retain and support Auckland Council's Senior Advisory Panel, increasing public transparency and accessibility to their recommendations and suggestions so council is held to stronger account on the advice they receive from the panel. I am committed to Auckland becoming an age-friendly city, meeting the World Health Organisation's standards. As Auckland's Mayor, I will champion inclusivity, for Aucklanders of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs and orientations, across socio-economics. I am dedicated to ensuring positive representation of our people across council publications, and to give light and listen to our diverse population. This will be achieved by mandating real community engagement required for local boards and redistributing resources to allow them to fulfil the desires of their community.

Families: Auckland's growth has seen us become incredibly individualised. Malls have replaced community halls as the place people congregate on weekends - although, not to meet new people, let alone talk - and neighbours are less inclined to know each other. I will see that public spaces are designed for the people who live in them, with a focus on local procurement and engagement with artists and innovators in the community. More public artwork, better designed spaces, and utilising the world-leading concepts of placemaking will foster identity in neighbourhoods. Parks, libraries, pools, and recreation centres are core community considerations that will be not only protected, but flourish. For families looking to buy homes, my housing and rates policy will increase the supply of housing, lowering prices.

Homeless: Whilst our people live in makeshift accommodation, in garages, in their cars, on the street, and in overcrowding, we cannot be proud of our city. I take ownership of Auckland's homelessness problem. It is my personal problem. I will be accountable for all action, or inaction, to house our people. I am a strong advocate for the housing first approach: get Aucklanders in homes first, then support them with wrap-around services in skills training, help and support for addiction and mental health, job applications, and more. I will lead council collaboration with Parliament, and the volunteer and community organisations that are already employing this approach to see concerted, well-resourced effort to end homelessness in Auckland.

Ethnic: In talking to a number of communities, I've discovered many feel Auckland Council's Ethnic People's Advisory Panel is lip service. Over 40 per cent of Auckland's population was born overseas, and we're the fourth most diverse city on earth. We need to start acting like it, with diversity of representation, but also in moving away from ethnocentrism - particularly when it comes to the affairs of Maori. I will lead a council that is intolerant of intolerance - when racist activity happens in Auckland, I will be the first to speak against it. I will influence the culture of our city as a champion of inclusivity, educate our people about its importance, and move away from generic lip service towards genuine treatment and consultation of all people of Auckland as Aucklanders.

Motorists: With over 800 new cars on Auckland roads every single week, we need real investment and focus on alternatives to get people off the roads - easing congestion for those who have no alternative. I will prioritise the budget, and work with government to bring forward the Rapid Transit Network, designating congestion-free bus routes as soon as possible, allowing for convenient and efficient public transport before rail is laid. I will focus on increasing safety for cyclists with bordered lanes, and creating Auckland's premiere cycle sharing network. Focusing on greater density in Auckland's metro centres, and along the arterial routes, will also increase opportunities and likelihood of walking. All of this will see ease congestion on our roads in a way that blindly building new roads can not.

John Palino

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Seniors: Seniors tend to be on restricted incomes and are often asset-rich, meaning they are heavily exposed to rates increases. My policy to pull back rates will put money in the pockets of seniors and my plan to protect suburbs will not force older people out of their communities.

Families: I'm going to help families by unlocking land and allowing the development of new family homes in the price range homes should sell for - under $400,000. In creating a new business district, I'm going to bring employment closer to where people live, meaning less travel and more time for parents with their children.

Homeless: My cafe sits on the back end of Bruce Pulman Park. The only way to answer this question is if you understand the real issues - most do not but I do. There are several reasons people are homeless but why has it been growing at a rapid rate? As the cost of housing and rentals have increased dramatically and homeowners no longer depend on rent for their investment rather than capital gain, the lower income population has been pushed further and further into the outer suburbs. This has made work difficult to reach for full time and especially part time workers. You will notice mostly families and single people in a car because one parent needs to stay home to watch the children, making only one earner paying all the bills for a family. Single people can not make enough to cover rental alone. In my growth plan we would bring work closer to where the people are living , open up the boundary under our control and build very affordable housing inside a new city.

Ethnic: Some of Auckland's ethnic communities have been unfairly targeted as a result of house price inflation caused by council policies. By releasing land for development and allowing Auckland to grow, I'll not only be providing housing for every group in Auckland that is feeling the pressure of our housing crisis, I'll remove some of the blame being directed towards ethnic communities.

Motorists: I am the only candidate who understands that Auckland's congestion problem is the product of the council's bizarre obsession with blanket intensification. Fix the growth plan and you'll take the heat out of congestion. I'll concentrate new homes and jobs in centres with transport capacity and near to each other so workers don't have to commute through Auckland's narrow isthmus.

David Hay

Auckland mayoral candidate David Hay. Photo / Supplied
Auckland mayoral candidate David Hay. Photo / Supplied

Seniors: My top priority is to provide public transport that is cheap, safe, efficient and extensive. I will ensure the road network, footpaths and carparks are designed to provide for mobility scooters and wheelchairs. Auckland will continue to improve accessibility to council buildings to ensure elderly and disabled people can enjoy the same facilities and services as others. I want the council to continue, and expand, its provision of housing for the destitute elderly.

Families: Auckland's kids need to get to school by walking, cycling and taking public transport. Much of Auckland's traffic congestion is caused by parents and young people driving to and from schools. That's also a burden on household budgets and parents' time.I will extend and improve Auckland's network of cycleways and footpaths, with a focus on providing for the needs of students and young people, getting to and from schools and tertiary institutions, quickly and safely.

Homeless: If there were one thing I could achieve in my first 60 days in office, it would be to house Auckland's homeless. Within 60 days. I would sell some or all of the council's shares in Auckland Airport to fund that, if necessary. And I would send an invoice to Paula Bennett, the Minister for Social Housing, to recover the costs. I would do what the Government has failed to do, and shame the Government into doing its job properly. This would be the most important and urgent item on my agenda, if I were elected mayor.

Ethnic: People of diverse origins and abilities should have equitable employment opportunities within Auckland Council and its Council-controlled organisations.It is my policy that, when people with equivalent qualifications have applied for a job within council, the job must go to a person whose ethnicity and/or gender and/or ability is under-represented within council, compared to the population of Auckland as a whole.

Motorists: The best thing anyone can do for motorists is provide a clean, safe and efficient, electric rapid rail system that goes everywhere in Auckland. That's the only way to solve Auckland's transport problems, ease congestion, safeguard our economy against rising oil prices, and reduce carbon emissions. I intend to build an enduring consensus, across all political parties, to ensure central and local government continue working together to build the Rapid Transit Network that is already in the Auckland Plan.

Mark Thomas

Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas. Photo / Nick Reed
Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas. Photo / Nick Reed

Seniors:Seniors will double as a proportion of Auckland's population over the next 20 years and more will stay working longer, yet council activity doesn't take enough account of this. The high rates increases have also been a burden for many. As mayor, I will lead a rewrite of the Auckland Plan to better incorporate key seniors issues, introduce a fairer rates policy and drive council to deliver better value for money. A council I lead will focus on greater inclusiveness for seniors on key housing and universal design issues, improving transport and dealing more effectively with safety.

Families: Families need secure affordable housing and efficient, accessible transport. My plans will see more housing built more quickly and greater investment in our key transport priorities. Families are key users of the hundreds of council parks, facilities and libraries across our region. Uninformed council cost-cutting has reduced library hours and parks maintenance, and increased community centre fees. Too many of our community facilities are behind in their asset maintenance. I will bring greater focus on these core facilities and services and my policy to give local boards a greater share of council's budget and responsibility will also help.

Homeless: I was the first mayoral candidate to propose a specific plan to solve homelessness. Our streets are no place for people to call home, but it is the job of a mayor to look after our streets. I will use vacant or underused council or (preferably) government space, such as the Civic Building in Aotea Square which has been largely unused for two years, for temporary overnight shelter for the homeless. Manchester in the UK is following a similar approach. Such a location would help government and agencies better access the homeless and provide the medical support, financial assistance, skills training and permanent accommodation needed.

Ethnic: Auckland's diversity gives us a richer culture and can help build greater awareness and tolerance. But it can come with challenges. As mayor I will lead greater efforts to improve understanding help address issues and there is more council can do to strengthen safety and security - particularly in our town centres. Council has made some progress communicating and engaging with ethnic communities but we have more to do. In my council ward we have supported the establishment of four new residents' associations. This can be a valuable way to engage with ethnic communities and I champion this approach.

Motorists: My better-transport-sooner-plan will make greater public transport choices available for those who can use these, and as a result help reduce congestion on our roads. Commuters on average lose 20 work days a year stuck in traffic and this has been getting worse. Around 70 per cent of Aucklanders use a private vehicle to get to work each day, so improving viable public transport options by extending busways in the north, west and east and planning future rail in the south will directly help motorists. My restructure of Auckland Transport will also help get more local transport problems solved.

Penny Bright

Auckland mayoral candidate Penny Bright. Photo / Chris Gorman
Auckland mayoral candidate Penny Bright. Photo / Chris Gorman

Seniors:I fully support the Gold Card for seniors, and accessing it being as uncomplicated as possible. I believe that council pensioner housing should be eligible for the income-related rent subsidy, and would help lobby government to make that happen. I do not support the privatisation of council pensioner (public housing), including devolution to private NGOs.I believe that State/Council housing is public and "social" housing is private, and am totally opposed to "social" housing taking over "public" housing. I support the establishment of a Seniors' Advisory Panel to give seniors a greater voice in council for matters that impact on seniors' wellbeing.

Families: I support the Living Wage for Auckland Council staff, and contractors. Stable, affordable housing is the "home base" for families. Why does all this "growth" have to come to Auckland? Where's the national population growth, migration and regional employment strategy? Why did Auckland Council and government rely on the Department of Statistics "high" population growth projection - when they recommended "medium", i.e. an extra 1 million people coming to Auckland by 2040 instead of 700,000? A speculative bubble has helped push up Auckland housing (and rental) prices. It's great for commercial property developers, investors, speculators, bankers and land bankers - but not ordinary Auckland families, many of whom now can't even afford to be tenants in their own land.

Homeless: It is obscene to have empty houses and the most vulnerable sleeping on cardboard on Queen St in winter, let alone crammed in cars, garages and caravans. What sort of New Zealand have we become? I believe housing is foremost a human right, not a property right for speculative gain. As mayor I will ensure empty State houses, that have been transferred to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, which is partially owned by Auckland Council, take the boards off the windows and help house the homeless.

Ethnic: Auckland, with its 1.4 million residents has more than 220 different ethnic groups, is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with 39% being born overseas. Ethnic diversity enriches society. But migration needs to be carried out in a planned, well-organised way, ensuring jobs, housing, education facilities and resources are available for all, to help eliminate the social tensions that can arise from effectively unplanned "growth". The secret is effective and direct communication, based on bringing people together, asking the simple questions, "what do you need?" and "what do you want?"

Motorists: I do not support road tolls or a petrol tax for motorists. That is effectively a pay cut for working people. Effective, efficient public transport would help encourage motorists out of their cars. However, in Auckland there is no such thing as "public" transport. There are 10 private bus companies, four private ferries and a French multi-national running the trains. The only thing "public" are the secret public subsidies - which Auckland Transport has refused to reveal on the grounds of "contractual confidentiality". Open the books. If the private sector is so "efficient", why does it need public subsidies? Make "public" transport public again, and save millions on "corporate welfare".

- NZ Herald

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