A senior Auckland councillor has apologised to Mayor Phil Goff and councillors for floating a proposal to sell a big stake in Ports of Auckland to the Government.
North Shore councillor Chris Darby, who chairs the planning committee and is a member of Goff's inner circle, told the Herald on Friday the Government should buy a 50 per cent stake in the port company to lessen the impact of Covid-19 on the council's finances.
The four-page draft proposal came as a big surprise to Goff and finance committee chairwoman Desley Simpson, who oversee the council's finances. Other councillors were also blindsided by the proposal.
In an email to Goff and colleagues last night, Darby apologised for the way he went about sharing the idea.
"My intention was to generate public-facing discussion about how we might resolve our dire financial position, but my execution was lacking.
"I should have canvassed the proposal with other councillors, including the relevant chairs. Although I had tested the idea with several of you, I should have made more effort to speak more widely about it," Darby said.
He also apologised for making the comments as chair of the planning committee, and made it clearer "this was a personal view of mine".
Goff, who has spent time over the weekend and this week dealing with the fallout from Darby's comments, said councillors have the right to put forward ideas for debate and discussion.
"However, it is important that views that councillors have as individuals are distinguished from those that they may express as chairs on behalf of other councillors.
"Councillor Darby made an apology to his colleagues for not making this sufficiently clear in recent ideas he floated around the sale of strategic assets," Goff said.
Goff, a Labour politician for much of his life, is strongly opposed to the sale of strategic assets, including the council's 100 per cent stake in Ports of Auckland and its shareholding in Auckland International Airport
Darby told the Herald today he could have gone about the proposal in a better way and took it on the chin, "but hopefully we can get past it and interrogate the idea, rather to continue to interrogate the proponent of ideas".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denied in an interview with Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking today that the Government was looking at "buying a chunk" of Ports of Auckland.