The Bulletin: Can John Banks rise again?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: John Banks looking at another mayoral run, warnings from economists of the housing bubble bursting, and Indonesia responds to West Papua protests.

Could John Banks be about to get back in the ring and race for the Auckland mayoralty? This report from Stuff’s Bevan Hurley certainly indicates he’s weighing it up, with the possibility of open political space to run in on the right wing. Top strategic firm Topham Guerin has been hired, and given they’ve just come off helping Scott Morrison win in Australia that shouldn’t be discounted. Banks has of course had a crack at it before, having previously been mayor of Auckland City. But he lost heavily to Len Brown in the first Super-City contest back in 2010, before a brief stint as ACT’s sole MP.

It’s worth looking back a bit at his last crack for the job. This piece from Bill Ralston in the Listener from 2009 shows both that he had a lot of early support then, and also that there was speculation at the time that the Super City’s main power base would be the leafier, more Pākehā suburbs like Epsom and Remuera. But neither really came to pass, and every contest so far has shown the centre-left had the better of turnout.

There is however a much stronger chance of that vote being split this time around though. So far the two leading declared candidates are Mayor Phil Goff and Waipareira Trust CEO John Tamihere, both of whom are former Labour MPs. But they’re running on very different versions of what centre-left means. Goff has made big pushes on infrastructure (including targeted rates to pay for water system upgrades) and public transport Tamihere in contrast has taken a markedly more populist tone, railing against Council Controlled Organisations and accusing the mayor of presiding over an ‘anti-car’ agenda, with a view to picking up the votes of many of the right as well. As well as that, the left/right spectrum shouldn’t be overstated as the measure by which people vote in local body elections.

At the moment Tamihere is the best chance those voting to oust Goff have. But the emergence of John Banks could change that for vast swathes of right-leaning voters. While it’s difficult to say in the absence of public polling, it doesn’t appear that repeat candidate John Palino has been able to break through to voters in that space this time around.

So would Banks have a chance? Speaking to Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald journalist and long-time Auckland politics watcher Simon Wilson wasn’t confident that he would stand, let alone be in a position to win. There’s an awful lot of baggage that Banks carries, including the messy court cases around an alleged donation from Kim Dotcom that ended his last parliamentary career. But provided Banks isn’t just doing this on an idle whim, it does indicate the space he would run in remains unfilled by any of the existing candidates.


Economists at Bloomberg are warning that New Zealand’s housing market is almost uniquely vulnerable to a crash, reports Stuff. That’s because housing costs are the highest as set against wages. However, prices (or the market bubble, depending on your point of view) could be inflated even further by low interest rates, which are tipped to go even lower.


Indonesian officials have responded to protests against their actions in West Papua, reports Newshub. The protests took place at an expo to highlight ties with Pacific Island nations, amid an ongoing occupation of West Papua which frequently involves violent clashes – activists have accused the Indonesian military of committing large-scale human rights abuses as well. Indonesian foreign minister says relations with Pacific nations are strong, and that they have a lot to talk about in terms of investment, economic development and tourism.


A public meeting will be held in Napier about the potential IPO for the Port, reports Hawke’s Bay Today. The sale is being pushed initially for local residents and employees of the Port. Money raised in the prospective sale of up to 45% is intended to be put towards a new wharf.


Local government leaders could be getting a bit antsy about central government muscling in on their turf. That’s a conclusion from this really interesting report from Stuff’s Rob Mitchell, which covers some of the debates that took place at the recent local government forum. Here’s the conundrum – many smaller councils want more money to fund services due to their limited ratepayer bases, but doing want to trade that for control. One area that will involve plenty of interesting discussions is the current review of water infrastructure.


The long term programme of gun buyback events has started, reports Radio NZ. A few hundred people have been through events in Canterbury over the weekend. Even under the new rules, the vast majority of registered guns are still legal.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Laura O’Connell-Rapira writes from a historic hui about Oranga Tamariki and the taking of children by the state. Alexandra McNeill has a key suggestion for addressing climate change. Josie Adams digs into the names behind famous food brands – who exactly is Pam?


For readers of The Bulletin religious, atheist and agnostic alike, this may be a piece to try and read in good faith. Published on Highline, it’s a look into the millennial women in America who are becoming nuns, and in the process reversing generations of decline. There are many interesting points the article makes about the flows of cultural change, but the bits that jumped out to me are those where the choice is explained on the terms of individual people, rather than bigger pictures. Here’s an excerpt:

And yet, Dubay explains, there is one being who reliably rewards our efforts: Christ. The woman who loves Him, the religious sister, has a calling worthy of her complete devotion and that honors her sacrifices “many times over,” as the Book of Luke says. She has found her “passion.” She has “rest,” “fulfillment,” “enthrallment,” “completion”—precisely the things that I, exhausted, have often wanted.

There are a lot of recent books—and Twitter accounts, and blogs—written for women discerning to become nuns. They, too, sounded uncannily like the voice in my own head that whispers to me late at night all the things I wished my parents or partners or colleagues would say. Words of quiet affirmation and acceptance I had, in fact, almost never dared to ask for.


The Silver Ferns have had a dream start to the Netball World Cup, running away with three convincing wins from three to open their campaign. Granted, they were all games the team absolutely should be winning against Malawi, Barbados and Singapore, but it’s still a promising start. Upcoming games will likely be a lot tougher – for a preview of the other teams that will make life difficult, read this from The Spinoff’s Alice Webb-Liddall.

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And in the cricket, what can anyone really say? It was heartbreaking news for Black Caps fans to wake up to, if you even went to sleep at all. The Black Caps have come agonisingly short at the final hurdle, losing what was probably the greatest game of cricket of all time off the final ball of a Super Over. It literally could not have been closer, and one side had to lose. But really, why does anyone watch sport at all, if not to witness moments like this? Duncan Greive has put the feeling of that into words, and you can read it on The Spinoff.


From our partners: A two-tier system of energy use is developing, with those on high incomes much more able to reduce their bills than households on lower incomes. Vector’s Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer Kate Beddoe outlines what the company plans to do about that.


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