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The next local election is still around a year away, but incumbent mayor Phil Goff could face a challenge by a high-profile businessman.
The Herald understands Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes is currently mulling a leap into the political sphere.
Barnes has garnered significant media attention both locally and abroad over the last few years due to his decision to introduce a four-day working week at his company, which employs over 200 staff.
Asked about the speculation around a potential run for mayor, Barnes admitted it was something he was considering.
"Some of my colleagues are really encouraging me to make the step into politics, but I'm still gauging whether I should," Barnes told the Weekend Herald.
"I'm seriously considering it because I feel like I'm watching a slow-motion trainwreck in Auckland and in Wellington."
Unlike Goff, Barnes isn't a political insider and will have to build support from the ground up. He does have some name recognition built on the four-day week campaign, but he would have to run a strong campaign to get cut-through against Goff.
Barnes doesn't fit into any clear political categories. He may have made millions in business, but he has a progressive streak that comes through in his managerial style and workplace policies.
Barnes is described as centre-left with a pro-business slant and he is a fervent supporter of the arts.
He is behind the long-term sponsorships of the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium at Otago Museum and the APPA Music Festivals' Choir and has also donated $300,000 in funding to Te Papa.
He has previously served as the former chair of Regional Facilities Auckland, and his work on the four-day week has seen him hold discussions with politicians both here and abroad on the topic of productivity.
Barnes has long expressed concern about the impact of the gig economy on workplace protections and has called for policies that better protect workers from potential harm.
He has also expressed criticism of Auckland Council's strategies when it comes to climate change, the use of stadiums and inner-city congestion.
Should Barnes follow through and run a campaign, it will be interesting to see if his combination of progressive business thinking has the clout to really take the challenge to Goff.
Air NZ's good news lost in the breeze
Air New Zealand on Tuesday released the good news on the findings of inquiries into its engine maintenance with Royal Saudi Navy minutes after Team NZ had pulled off a win in what has been described as one of the all-time great America's Cup races.
Much of the nation was on tenterhooks waiting for a call on whether what could have been the Cup-clinching 10th race would go ahead when the airline released its statement. As it turned out the race was delayed a day but regardless, much of the nation was transfixed by what was happening on the Hauraki Gulf rather than the news of the airline emerging from the Saudi crisis in much better shape than a month ago.
If anyone missed it, Air NZ announced it had received confirmation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that permits were not required for exporting the specific type of engines (GE LM2500) the business was repairing for the Saudi Navy.
Air New Zealand chair Dame Therese Walsh said this aligned with advice the airline received from the QC appointed to review the licensing requirements for the engines.
"The legal advice we received from Mike Heron QC is that the export of the two engines to Germany for the Royal Saudi Navy did not require an export permit under the Customs Act, nor did it require a notification to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade."
The advice is that new notification requirements introduced in late 2020 do not apply to contracts entered into before September 2020 (when the notification requirement was expanded for certain military-related exports). The contract for this Royal Saudi Navy work was in May 2019.
She said the independent external review being carried out by PwC on Air New Zealand's Gas Turbines business is almost finalised, with a report to the board expected at the end of this month.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran says the internal review is due to be completed shortly and early findings have helped the business to identify opportunities to improve processes.
"For Air New Zealand, business is more than just revenue, we've got to make sure the work we are doing fits within our values. Our internal review has seen us change our processes to support us to make the right decisions as an organisation. We are also committed to making further changes pending the outcome of the independent external review."