Q. I detected a few tears on Saturday. How does it feel to be the "comeback kid"?
A. The nostalgia came from the long and winding, difficult and uphill road. Forty-three years ago I started business in this city with my Morris 8 car and a trailer picking up empty bottles and selling them to Corbans Wines and at night sleeping in the back of the car in the Auckland Domain. I was just reflecting privately that this is a land of opportunity where everyone is born with the right to be successful.
Q. You said the next council must listen and build goodwill. How will those words translate into action?
A. For instance, I have some quite strong views about the reorganisation of local governance in Auckland and where we should be heading and what the outcome should be. But the goodwill and consultation we talk about means we have to wait for the royal commission to undertake its work and make some sound recommendations.
Q. What role do you see for yourself in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland?
A. Building goodwill between the constituent local authorities of Greater Auckland, working with the mayors around building a consensus so that when the work of the commission is completed we are all singing the same song from the same songsheet. That is the number one challenge facing this mayoralty. I'm not dying in the ditch about the future shape and form [of Auckland] but today all the evidence tells me that one city is probably where we should be heading.
Q. There are many sceptics out there about John Banks the changed man. Will you end up disappointing your traditional supporters and/or proving your detractors right?
A. The changes that are needed are probably more conceived than real. There has been a certain amount of overheated discussion around just how bad I may or may not have been, but three long years in exile has allowed me to focus on what really needs to change. It's much more about consultation, goodwill and leadership. I can't afford to let the people of Auckland down because, more importantly, I would let myself down. No one should confuse a more measured approach with weakness because this city badly needs decisive leadership.
Q. Over the next few weeks, the council will make decisions on water rates and whether councillors continue to sit as planning commissioners on projects like the giant McDonald's in Balmoral. What is going to happen?
A. Between now and Christmas there are some very big paradigm shifts that need to take place at Auckland City if we are going to discharge our obligations to voters. A lot of very careful consultation needs to take place and then we have to get on and make the tough decisions. Around the commissioners, we need to work through the issues to see that the outcome is not just politically expedient but sound and sensible. But as long as the underlying principles are right then the detail will follow. But with all the decisions that need to be taken at Auckland City there will be people who are marginalised, and that has to be limited. Water has got to be used for water. We cannot take any cash from water profits to use for general council spending. That bad behaviour must stop. We shouldn't be taking profits from stormwater. We should be using profits for [wastewater] separation so we can clean up the beaches.
Q. Will you be reviewing other council projects, like the $47 million city-to-Newmarket dedicated busway and a $25 million ratepayers contribution to the art gallery upgrade?
A. We are not going to be able to discharge our promise around rates unless we go through the books and triangulate all of the proposed spending over the next 10 years, and then carefully order our priorities and fund what we can with the money that we have got. You can't hold rates to council inflation without some of the projects on the 10-year plan being axed.
Q. Will you pull ratepayer funding on Eden Park, even though Citizens & Ratepayers voted for it and more than half of people in a Herald-DigiPoll supported rates money for the upgrade?
A. My policy position on Eden Park has not changed. I would be prepared to commit ratepayers' money to economic infrastructure around the precincts of Eden Park and leave the funding of the grandstand upgrades inside Eden Park to the cash-rich Government and the rich and powerful Rugby Union.
Q. Will you be keeping the mayoral hybrid electric car?
A. What is a hybrid-powered car? I haven't given it any thought. We are not about changing cars. But if you are asking if we are going to be buying a V8, twin turbo mayoral car, the answer is no.
Q. Will you be moving back to the Auckland Town Hall?
A. Yes. It is arguably our most historic building. It represents everything good about Auckland City and it is 12 or 15 steps from the people. The policy is going to be access and availability and openness and accountability.