Nats proxy to contest Auckland mayoralty?

The Auckland local body elections have moved a step closer to being merged with national politics with the formation of Auckland Future to help the centre right contest the elections next year. It is closely linked with the National Party.

They will support a mayoral candidate “if, and when, a winnable candidate emerges”.

It seems almost certain that Phil Goff will stand for the mayoralty, giving his bid a strong Labour connection.

Bernard Orsman reports in NZ Herald – Nats back new Auckland ticket.

 Party figures drive centre-right platform created out of dissatisfaction with state of Super City

National Party figures are behind a new ticket, Auckland Future, being set up to wrestle for control of the Super City at next year’s local body elections.

Sources have linked National Party president Peter Goodfellow, former presidents Sue Wood and Michelle Boag, and Auckland-based ministers Nikki Kaye and Paul Goldsmith to the plan.

It is understood the National Party is prepared to contribute resources and fundraising skills to the ticket while keeping the National brand away from the Super City arena.

Prime Minister John Key was one of about 80 people at a fundraising event for the new ticket on October 14 at the Geyser Building in Parnell.

The ticket is the latest attempt by the centre-right to win control of the council after two poor campaigns and the failure of the Communities & Residents ticket, formerly Citizens & Ratepayers (C&R), to gain traction.

C&R president Karen Sherry, when asked if C&R could merge with Auckland Future, said “that’s a discussion that needs to be had” but added “sometimes competition can be healthy”.

Ms Kaye, MP for Auckland Central, said she wanted to ensure a strong voice around reducing rates and bureaucracy.

“There has to be change. It [the council] has been pretty fragmented and I’m very interested for a new entity to emerge.”

Campaign and fundraising experience should give this a major boost and the people involved and endorsing it give this an unmistakable National tinge. It looks like the Auckland mayoralty in particular will look closely related to national politics.

Joe Davis, a Browns Bay business consultant and National Party volunteer chairing Auckland Future, said the organisation was incorporated in September.

He said there had been a lot of conversation across the centre-right, including the National Party, about wanting to see Auckland run well, and with a vision.

“There is real widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of Auckland,” Mr Davis said.

“The city is too big and too important to have councillors voting in an ad hoc manner on key issues.”

Mr Davis said Auckland Future would field a ticket of councillors with a strong policy platform so voters would know what they were voting for.

He said the ticket did not have any candidates lined up and would embrace a mayoral candidate “if, and when, a winnable candidate emerges”.

So they aren’t saying specifically that they will support a mayoral candidate but one could presume that’s a major aim.

The Auckland mayor is seen as one of the most important elected officials in the country. The Prime Minister isn’t even elected as such, their party is elected with it’s leader becoming Prime Minister.

There may be good arguments both for and against national politics mixing more with local politics.

One benefit could be that the centre right in Auckland come up with a serious contender for the mayoralty. Last election Len Brown didn’t have much credible competition.

Phil Goff may stick with his proposal to remain an MP until/unless elected mayor. Campaigning for local body elections while a sitting MP is a major merge of national/local politics on it’s own, with the taxpayer funding his campaign time.