It's just over one year since Phil Goff became Mayor of Auckland after a stellar three decades long career in national politics. Tim McCready asked business leaders to rate how Goff is handling the job.

Heather Ash, Partner, Simpson Grierson:

Overall the council is making good progress under Phil Goff's leadership. My sense is he is working well with council officers and has a good structure around him.

In particular, the proposal for a regional fuel tax is a significant step forward, given the restrictions that local authorities face around alternative funding mechanisms.


Funding, or lack of, is the biggest constraint for the council. Mayor Goff understands the importance of investing in infrastructure - transport, water, etc - for unlocking issues like the housing shortage. New solutions will be needed to help pay for this investment.

A stronger relationship with Wellington will help create solutions for these strategic challenges. The dynamic on this front seems, as expected, to be in good shape. The new Government has a positive attitude to working with local government.

A big issue for the mayor, and council generally, is winning hearts and minds in the community. Progressing the big issues for the city, delivering a great service and keeping control of costs and rates is a major challenge.

For local government, managing the entire Auckland region post-amalgamation is challenging because people's expectations on what councils do are very different.

Keeping the focus on the big picture and what's best for the region will mean that local government (the wider Auckland Council group, including the CCOs) does deliver for the city - in particular making the strategic decisions needed to address challenges around growth, transport, infrastructure and housing.

Auckland is a stunning city geographically and has such great potential. It's an exciting time to rise to these challenges as well as plan for the America's Cup and Apec.

Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA: Auckland city is facing major challenges.

By 2036 its population is predicted to rise by almost 750,000. We're already lagging behind in infrastructure investment by billions and that will only be exacerbated with the intensification allowed for under the Unitary Plan.


Furthermore, there continues to be a disconnect between where people live and work, both now and in the future, that will only add to current congestion woes.

Therefore, the mayor's relationship with Wellington has been constructive and he has a functioning council. After all, he has been successful in convincing the new Coalition Government of the need for a regional petrol tax.

While we don't necessarily see the petrol tax as a solution, we do know that transport is a major issue for businesses and residents of Auckland.

Our own research shows that the city loses at least $1.3 billion dollars a year in productivity.

The mayor and council in conjunction with Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and central Government must work in alignment on the how the roading and public transport networks will operate.

We need to address both short-term bottlenecks and long-term congestion issues that the city's growing population will put increasing pressure on.

The funding mix is crucial, and Auckland business and residential ratepayers cannot be expected to pay more, unless they know what the network looks like and are confident it will reduce or manage congestion.

The cross-city tunnel has yet to have a major contract let and the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (Atap) is still only a laundry list of projects being considered with no clear governance or pathway to completion.

Local body funding is an issue facing every council. In Auckland city's case this is about growth.

The population growth and the growing pressure this puts on the infrastructure, housing, moving around the city and so forth, is a matter the mayor and council are only too aware of, I'm sure. Rates alone will never fund the investment required, and the council is limited in how much money it can borrow.

However, public private partnerships, infrastructure bonds or targeted rates (such as a congestion charge) all have a role to play to overcome investing in some of the significant big-ticket items the city faces. We would like to see these options being given more serious consideration.

I know the mayor has recognised the delays and other planning system issues residing within council but we have yet to see real evidence that lead times have reduced.

It has been a solid start but there is a tidal wave of issues including the America's Cup and Apec which the city needs to be prepared for.

Tony Falkenstein, CEO, Just Water: The first year has been an opportunity to judge Phil Goff as a leader, and he has failed to lead. He is managing, but not leading this city.

If he was a business leader, taking on a company that was spending more than it was receiving, this would have been the first port of call to get those costs under control.

Something is wrong with the budget process when the mayor "was surprised" and did not realise that the number of executives earning over $200,000 had increased by 25 per cent in the past year.

Either the mayor isn't getting meaningful information or the CEO is incompetent. Both of them, plus all councillors, should have been all over the staff salaries to see what could have been cut to get the foundation of the council in order.

This is the council's largest expense, with a new mayor the staff would have been expecting change, and it didn't happen.

People want to see "leaders" and the inaction over the first year has been disappointing, and a wasted opportunity. I do not see it happening under Phil Goff, as much as I like him as a person.

All we have seen are meaningless cuts, which have done so much to harm our city. If he had been able to reduce only five of the overpaid executives, it would mean our prestigious Art Gallery would not have to consider closing on one or more days a week.

There have been many of these pitiful cuts, which have been overall so small as a percentage of council spending, but so large in terms of those affected.

The mayor can talk about visions of the future, but a vision without a plan is just a dream.

Get the foundation right first, get rid of the shareholdings in the port and the airport, establish private/public partnerships for long term funding opportunities, and most of all get the organisation structure right to match the costs with income.

Graeme Stephens, CEO, SkyCity: I have had a number of positive interactions with Phil Goff and have found him to be highly energised, interested and engaged.

When it comes to translating some aspects of our discussions into action I think his team hits up against the somewhat cumbersome bureaucracy and the silos which dictate decision making in Auckland. The long process to get things done must be as frustrating for him as it can be for us.

Investment in infrastructure, transport and tourism are critical to ensure Auckland keeps pace with regional competitors.

Equally as important, however, is addressing the pressing issue of those with genuine social and financial needs that are not being met under the current system, particularly the homeless.

As a large ratepayer with a big footprint in the Auckland CBD, the decisions council makes strongly impact our business.

The disruption we're seeing to the roading network is hurting us, as it is hurting many inner-city businesses, but we accept it is critical if we want a vibrant, competitive city in the future.

The council's vision for a network of laneways, shared spaces and green corridors is also positive, and will ensure the city evolves and responds to community and business priorities.

Homelessness is an issue which requires partnerships from central government, local government, businesses and communities if any meaningful progress is to be made.

Following conversations with the mayor, SkyCity is considering how we can contribute.

Though it does feel as if the city is gaining momentum, with the CRL construction going ahead and the announcement of a regional fuel tax to fund projects like light rail connection between the CBD and the airport, there is still much more that needs to be done, and SkyCity is keen to play a part wherever possible.

Auckland needs major events to stimulate the local economy and promote the city. The New Zealand International Convention Centre will play a role, and SkyCity can and will do more, but the America's Cup provides the mayor and council an enviable platform to cement Auckland's place as a global city, for major events, leisure and business tourism, and investment.

Making sure this event is a huge success is critical.