The King of Clevedon, the Franklin guvnor: Bill Cashmore is to be Phil Goff’s No 2 at Auckland Council. The National-Party-supporting councillor popped in to Spinoff HQ a few weeks back. Here’s what he told us.
The New Zealand Herald‘s Bernard Orsman has the scoop: the newly elected Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, has chosen Bill Cashmore as his deputy.
The first thing to say is that it’s a cruel blow for Penny Hulse, whose performance as Len Brown’s deputy for the last six years has been a formidable feat of acumen, diligence and good humour. As Hulse herself told Stuff when it emerged yesterday that she was out of the running, “let’s just say I’ve led the Auckland Plan, led the Unitary Plan, I held the council together through a sex scandal and then topped the poll for the entire region”.
Cashmore, too, recognised Hulse’s achievements, telling the Herald: “Penny Hulse set the bar very very high and I recommended to Phil she should stay as deputy. I will be going to Penny Hulse for advice and guidance because I have a huge amount of respect for her.”
Hulse’s deputy fortunes are flotsam in Goff’s wish to signal a departure from Len Brown’s Ancien régime, though she and another tipped for the deputy job, Chris Darby, are sure to land jobs leading senior committees.
Cashmore, who has established strong relationships in council, was elected unopposed in the southern, largely rural Franklin ward at this month’s election. Considered constructive and dependable, he is a kind of centre-right National-aligned twin to Goff, which should help the mayor secure majorities in council.
On the other hand, there is this:
Cashmore of Franklin visited the Spinoff for a Warcast, along with National MP Nikki Kaye, during the campaign.
Here are some of the things he said:
On running unopposed:
“The good people of Franklin could not bear the visual pollution of my campaign billboards once again.”
On the February “out-of-zone” special meeting, dominated by pitchfork-wielding Nimbyists and its impact on the Unitary Plan:
“February was a great thing. It exploded. It was like squeezing a pimple, and boom it just went everywhere… It was a pimple that needed squeezing. It brought the argument to a head. Difficult, and horrible at the time, but it really brought public opinion to the fore, and that’s what changed some of the councillors’ opinions, and that was a good thing.”
On whether there’s fat to trim at the council:
“Is council perfect? Hell no. Can we be better? Hell yes. But have we been sitting on our backsides doing nothing? No. There has been a lot of work already done. Stephen Town and the new executive leadership team have initiated lots of really good work, supported by the council. So we already are achieving savings of between $150 million and $220 million a year. We are driving record high capital being spent: $1.91 billion this year for projects – roading, bridges, community facilities. New stuff. We’re not wasting money.”
On council debt:
“People go on about the debt. The debt’s purely for capital bills. There’s no operational funding that goes into debt funding. You borrow money for a bridge that lasts 75 years – over the lifespan of that bridge it’s paid back. The other thing we have been doing that is not recognised by the public is we are going to 100% funding of depreciation. So when these assets that are currently on our books need to be replaced, the funding is there, in train, to make that happen.”
On council’s reputation:
“Why does council have a bad reputation? Because lots of people who sit around that table, all they want to do is throw bricks and be negative, unfortunately. Instead of being part of a team to build an organisation, to provide solutions, some of our councillors, and some of our local boards, and some other politicians from central government, all they want to do is throw bricks. And you know why? Because that’s easy money. That’s easy money. Nikki [Kaye]’s not part of that team. I’m not part of that team.”
On ramping up house building:
“In the 2015 year we allocated nearly 13,000 sections. Only half of them were built upon. There’s just not the capacity there. We need to change that. There’s a a step change we have to make and it will take a few years… I think the RMA does need major structural reform. Things take too long. Whether it’s roading, piping, or housing infrastructure. It’s too cumbersome and too slow.”
On who had his vote for mayor:
“I haven’t made my mind up, quite frankly.” [nb This is late August.] “I’m fairly open on that. I’m certainly not going to be telling you guys who I’m going to vote for when I do make my mind up… That’s between me and my maker.”