Then-Labour leader Andrew Little congratulates Phil Goff following the mayoral election on October 8, 2016. Photo: Fiona Goodall

How Andrew Little could drag Phil Goff back to Wellington

Andrew Little wants Phil Goff close to him in cabinet, he has revealed in an interview with The Spinoff. Not actually in cabinet, but as an important part of Wellington’s decision-making processes about Auckland.

If the Labour Party gets to form the next government, Auckland can expect some big changes. During an in-depth interview with The Spinoff ahead of the general election in September, party leader Andrew Little said that in his personal view the mayor of Auckland should sit on a special cabinet sub-committee.

Auckland is so important, he said, he would like to formalise the relationship.

If it happens, it will mean a significant shift for the way Auckland is viewed in the capital. The big city will be officially represented when funding and plans are being decided, and will feed directly into those plans. Also, it will mean there actually is a special focus on Auckland.

Andrew Little with Simon Wilson. Photo: Adrian Malloch

That sub-committee, presumably including the ministers of finance, housing, transport, some or all of the social services and perhaps the prime minister too, could become a powerful and much-needed conduit between central and local government.

In the interview, Little identified three broad Auckland issues he wants to address if he becomes prime minister.

They are “infrastructure shortfalls”, which includes transport, affordable housing, sewage and stormwater systems; “governance problems”; and the need for “new funding methods”.

It’s not a surprise to hear that infrastructure will be addressed. The problems are obvious enough. And it won’t surprise many people to learn that a Labour-led government will put new funding methods back on the table. Labour introduced a regional fuel tax in 2008, only to have it abolished by the incoming National government.

Andrew Little congratulates Phil Goff following the mayoral election on October 8, 2016. Photo: Fiona Goodall

But it is notable that “governance problems” will also be under review. The super-city could function better and so could relations with Wellington.

In the interview, Andrew Little also talked about the breakdown in relations with the Maori Party, revealed what he really thinks about those “Chinese sounding names” and responded – in a way that might surprise readers – to a challenge to make “a warm, dry home for every child” an official goal for Labour.

You can read the full interview here.

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