Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on July 11, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. Prime Minister Bill English today announced the establishment of a $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to to support 60,000 new homes to be built across New Zealand, mainly in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Goff promises tough love if re-elected

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Phil Goff confirms he’ll run for another term as Auckland mayor, Greens unveil members bill with sweeping electoral changes, and real estate agents are giving up.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has finally confirmed he’ll be seeking another term, and hasn’t shied away from the challenges Auckland faces. The NZ Herald reports he’s made it clear that if he wins, rates will be going up. He says he’s made significant progress as Auckland mayor, and he’s running on the idea that voters trust him to get more done. Stuff’s Todd Niall was at the campaign launch, and said there was little in the way of new policy. But as Radio NZ reports, the policy platform is largely already there: building infrastructure that will allow more housing to be built, a heavy emphasis on transport systems, and an environmental focus.

Phil Goff’s tenure to date has been fairly turbulent, though perhaps no more so than any other Auckland mayor would have experienced. He’s part way through a 10 year plan, the main planks of which involve Auckland’s infrastructure being significantly modernised and upgraded. But even though he’s laid out in pretty clear terms where he wants the money spent, it’s still going to be expensive.

He also may lack some of the friends around the Council table he could otherwise have had. Mayor Goff has been accused of having a dictatorial style, rather than ruling by trust and consensus. It’s unclear exactly how voters will see that – whether he’s an unloved autocrat, or a strong leader getting stuff done. Suffice to say, leading challenger John Tamihere has indicated strength of his own – promising to bring Council Controlled Organisations to heel if he wins. Mr Tamihere has also honed in on the rates rises as a key line of attack.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Weekend Collective, Mayor Goff made his pitch on the rates rise being necessary for any sort of development going ahead. He particularly cited transport spending as being an area that is needed for the good of the city, especially on public transport and arterial routes. They then had John Tamihere come on, and host Tim Wilson asked an immortal opening question: “Kia ora John, look you’re the anti-Phil Goff. It’s a fun position at a party after a few drinks, but is this really a viable candidacy?”

The answer to that at this stage is that nobody really knows. There hasn’t been any publicly released polling that would indicate how much ground Mr Tamihere would need to make up, or even the unlikely possibility that he’s already in the lead. There’s obviously a long campaign to come, but early momentum for Mr Tamihere would translate into more publicity, more chances to talk like a mayor-in-waiting, and more chances to remind property owning Aucklanders that they tend not to like their rates going up. Throughout his career in public life, Mr Tamihere has had a kind of chaotic energy, and an upset win shouldn’t be ruled out.


The Green Party have put forward a range of measures around democracy and the electoral system in a members bill, reports the NZ Herald. Some of them will be more popular than others, but they’re urging justice minister Andrew Little to adopt the bill. Among the measures, overseas donations would be banned, the party vote threshold would be lowered to 4%, Māori would be able to switch rolls at any time, and the ban on prisoners voting would be overturned. Expect lots of reaction to these proposals – criticisms have already been made on social media that the party is trying to game the system to their advantage with the threshold change. In the meantime, read this by JustSpeak volunteer Daniel Botha on why the prisoner voting ban remains a disgrace.
 
Meanwhile, it has been a big weekend generally for Greens announcing things. Conservation minister Eugenie Sage says another $76 million will go towards DOC, reports Newshub, with that money being targeted towards native plants and wildlife currently at risk of extinction.


Real estate agents are giving up the game in Auckland en masse, amid a wider cooling in the housing market, reports One News. The days of agents making quick money – if they ever really existed – are well and truly over, with thousands of agent licenses lapsing as a result. In some suburbs, like Flat Bush, the number of houses on the market has halved in the space of a year. The lack of supply seems to be a major reason why prices have stayed high recently.


A principal at an Auckland school has come out in strong support of the upcoming student climate strike, reports The Spinoff. Western Springs have stepped in to allow students to organise there, after the group was barred from using Auckland Girls Grammar for a planning meeting. The strikes are taking place on the 15th of March, in more than a dozen places around the country, to protest the lack of action and leadership being shown on climate change.


A high profile art gallery in New Plymouth is well behind its visitor targets, reports the Taranaki Daily News. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre has a visitor target of 116,000 people a year, but six months in to the period is sitting around 25,000. There are some big events coming up for Taranaki which could end up driving visitors to the gallery (looking at you, Womad) but there are concerns that an entry fee for those from outside the region is dampening enthusiasm.


The general order for police to be armed around Canterbury has been lifted, reports Radio NZ. It was in place while police hunted a suspect, and a 20 year old man has now been taking into custody. He has been charged with using an imitation firearm against police. We had an opinion piece on The Spinoff by Emilie Rākete, who argued that general arming orders would lead to more people being shot – both suspects and the general public.


Stuff has told a powerful series of stories marking a year since the start of their MeToo project. They’ve given voice to women who have undergone workplace sexual harassment and assault, highlighting both their stories and the need to continue bringing these stories to light.


From our partners: Climate change has already affected how electricity gets delivered to customers, and it’s only going to get more challenging. Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha outlines what the lines company is doing to respond.


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Journo jobs might be stressful, but they’re still definitely available (Getty Images)

Right now on The Spinoff: Duncan Greive does some sober analysis on the news that Mediaworks has nabbed the utterly wild reality show Love Island. Emily Writes has paid a tribute to the laid off workers of Reading Cinemas in Wellington. Broadcasting school lecturer Daniel Nielsen says contrary to popular opinion, studying journalism actually still has bright prospects. And Hayden Donnell reviews an incredible looking Mexican food place out by the Henderson dump.

Also, I did a piece on the recent news about measles cases, and how people should protect themselves and those around them. And now I’m getting emails from anti-vaxxers. My only response to them is this: I hope herd immunity built up throughout the rest of society keeps them safe and healthy.


It might sound like a trite thing to say, but it’s bloody wonderful Simon Wilson is still around and writing. The NZ Herald senior writer has updated his cancer diary, one year on from the series being published. It’s a touching piece – not so much about him, but about the connections people forge when they share an experience like that. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m not sure what he was really saying. He was dying and he knew it, and being there at all, reading a long, witty, graceful speech, had taken such bravery. He was in a wheelchair and there I was, on my feet, a living testament to the idea that it doesn’t have to end as quickly or as badly as it was ending for him.

I was the lucky one. Mind you, when he was at his one-year anniversary, he was in good shape too.

I’ve been to three funerals in the last year. I realise I’m testing myself: can I still cope with this? At the most recent one, I fell in with a woman with cancer I didn’t know. She’d been through much worse than me, but we both took real pleasure in the easy bluntness of the conversation. Talking helps.


Check out this absolutely ridiculous press release from the NRL, updating the public on the various off-field crimes and misdemeanours around the game. I’ve never understood how the NRL, which is so absolutely scandal-ridden, is seemingly so immune to negative stories driving fans away. Surely the fact that they had to do such a brazen Friday news dump will be a wake up call for the competition?

Also, are the Chiefs the new Blues? And by that, I mean Super Rugby team utterly incapable of winning. The Waikato side have lost at home to the Sunwolves – it’s the first ever win for the team outside of Japan. But the Blues lost to the Jaguares, leaving both teams winless after three games. The race for the wooden spoon will be intense this season.

Finally, have a watch of this incredible, monstrous strike from CJ Bott of the Football Ferns in the tournament they’re playing in Australia. One News have a video of the goal, seemingly scored from this side of the Tasman Sea, which came as part of a 2-1 win over Argentina. It’s a handy comeback from the Ferns in the four-team tournament, after losing first up to Australia. Their last match will be against South Korea.


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