Auckland and I have a lot in common. We want the same things for the city that has more spirit than anywhere else.
We want our people to be heard, our children to grow up safely and have access to a great quality of life. We want those struggling — less fortunate or elderly — helped when needed and treated kindly with respect. We want roads to move quickly and public transport to be affordable and easy. We need the city to be a successful economic powerhouse, a place where businesses get encouraged and ratepayers aren't continuously slugged.
With the right ideas, direction, business savvy and collaboration, Auckland's future is very bright. Without insisting on what we need we enter a game of roulette we can't afford.
We need to change the way we do things. We owe it to our children. A great Auckland can no longer be a dream. The time has come for change.
You and your family are being taken for a ride by this mayor and his council. We are witnessing unforgivable spending blowouts and rate increases. The regime has neglected consultation and local democracy. Citizens of Auckland have less say than ever. Auckland deserves a mayor who insists the voice of the people is the loudest in the room. We need to reject a mayor who only promises costly reviews. Auckland needs a mayor of action.
We are fed up with shoddy political management, debt increases, waste and local boards being ignored. These aren't just my views: I get stopped on our streets every single day. Things are being done — but not well enough or quickly enough. Local boards are in limbo, trapped with insufficient powers and budgets. They're being babysat by Auckland Council. They deserve autonomy.
CCOs are arrogant and tone-deaf. We the citizens need to demand better spending, better governance controls, and a focus on local democracy. We want and deserve to be heard. This isn't happening.
It cannot be overstated the impact council has on our everyday lives, and so decisions around its make-up cannot to be taken lightly. It needs to be goodbye to nine years of huge rates rises, new taxes and massive spending hikes. A mayor who is slower on the swiping of the public credit card needs to be ushered in. It pains me that those on fixed incomes are struggling with basic living costs while council piles on fresh charges.
Auckland needs to tighten its belt and focus on value. Our public transport plan is largely a good one, but it must be tailored to our ability to pay. Vanity projects have appeared out of thin air — Dominion Rd trams, for example — are simply not the priority. Awful congestion faced on major arterials should be. We should demand council spending is published online and transparent.
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Some of the greatest resentment towards Auckland Council comes from failure to consult.
CCO means Council Controlled Organisation, so it is unforgivable our mayor has surrendered control by removing representation from places like Auckland Transport. We need to rely on councillors to be our representative eyes and ears — accountability around projects big and small. The mayor should become Auckland Transport's chair, just as Sadiq Khan does for Transport for London. That would show leadership and true control for the people.
The mayor should implement a "democracy commissioner" — someone tasked to enforce better consultation processes within council and CCOs. My governance ideas would provide better outcomes compared to the self-serving reviews promised by mayor Goff, while avoiding the "sack them all" nonsense spouted by others.
Auckland Council hasn't granted enough powers to local communities enabling self-determination. I would love to see local boards made into local councils — acknowledging people want to feel better and more engaged with the closest links to local government. Local board members should be recognised as "local councillors", given more funding while getting head office busy bodies off their backs.
If communities want even more self-determination, then let's also give them the choice of bulk funding, so they can determine their priorities. Some might prefer a formula based model like they have at present. It's time to recognise that from Rodney to Pukekohe people want a real stepchange in how they engage with local government, and that's easy and cheap to deliver.
Another benefit is that local councils would have more ability to buy local. They could support economic development in their communities instead of outsourcing everything to service providers from far away. If delivering a local councils model needs central government sign-off then we will get it.
Auckland deserves much better than a plodding incumbent offering nothing more than directionless vague promises and reviews. Council staff, like us, share our aspirations for a better future.
They deserve support and better political direction to deliver their best work. I have been overwhelmed by the support in recent days and will soon make a decision on my candidacy. Citizens should rightly demand solutions for improved financial accountability and better democracy — we want our city to be its best.
There is unfinished business and the time has come to get it done. A new dawn for Auckland could be just over the horizon.
• John Banks is a former Cabinet Minister and was Mayor of Auckland City from 2001 to 2004 and from 2007 to 2010.