National (-Key) for Crone

Vic Crone’s Auckland mayoralty bid has had obvious backing from a political party, and her National crew were out in force for the launch of her mayoral campaign (I thought she launched months ago but that’s what last night’s event was called) .

National minus John Key of course. And minus Bill English, who has a candidate to promote in Wellington.

Tim Murphy reports at Politik:

The National Party turned out in force last night for the launch of ‘independent’ Victoria Crone’s Auckland mayoral campaign.

… last night looked like Crone had finally got the formal approval of the National Party.

She was Introduced by National MPs Mark Mitchell and Alfred Ngaro and with a video exhortation from former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, Crone’s big night was an emphatic coming together of the centre-right.

Speakers from both the Communities and Residents (C&R) and Auckland Future blocs spoke in her favour. 

Government ministers Nikki Kaye, Maggie Barry and Paul Goldsmith were joined in the 130 strong crowd by National Party president Peter Goodfellow, the current Auckland regional chair, Andrew Hunt and the two immediate past chairs Alastair Bell and Alan Towers.

Crone played up her links to the National-led government.  “I have been building on my existing relationships with the government and how do we partner together. I worry about a 30-year politician who has been boxing out of the red ring….”

With three weeks to go before three weeks of postal voting opens, the right’s anointed one declared: “This thing is winnable. Let’s not let a leader from yesterday cruise into the mayoralty of Auckland.”

There was one notable absentee:

But missing from the launch was John Key who has maintained a refusal to endorse Crone arguing that as Prime Minister he will have to work with whoever wins the Mayoral race.  

That seems a bit quaint.

Key has pretty much praised Phil Goff without endorsing him, but he also let a bit out about his likely actions last year.

Newshub: Key: I could work with ‘Mayor Goff’

Prime Minister John Key says he would be happy to work with Phil Goff as Auckland Mayor, should the veteran Labour MP throw his hat in the ring and win.

This morning on the same show Mr Key didn’t give Mr Goff his endorsement, but had praise for his former Prime Ministerial opponent’s skills and experience.

“I don’t mind the guy.”

But…

Mr Key says he won’t be giving any candidates his official endorsement, but may work behind the scenes to give whoever is standing on the right a fighting chance.

“Last time I went to a few fundraisers for John Banks – so privately I’ll do some things where there are people around, and people could have worked it out. But we won’t actually ultimately go out and say ‘it’s this candidate’ or ‘that candidate’.”

Key may work behind the scenes for Crone but the National Party is openly virtually endorsing her campaign.

 

‘Reduce rates’ promises

Political promises are Clayton’s promises – they are promises that are not really promises. They are statements of ‘I’d like you to think I would do this if elected but it depends…’

In local body election campaigns ever escalating rates inevitably attract promises but the promises never seem to be delivered.

NZ Herald: Auckland’s would-be mayors offering same old hoary chestnuts

The triennial “silly season” is upon us. Most of the mayoral candidates and many of the council aspirants are trotting out the hoary old chestnuts, reduction of rates, for example, or capping rates. Remember those promises any other times? Remember any rates reductions, or “caps” staying in place?

Does anyone remember anyone actually drinking Claytons, ‘the drink you have when you’re not having a drink’?

…please look at the website showing press statements of Phil Goff…

From Goff’s policies:

  • Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 percent per annum or less, if current Council fiscal projections are correct and the CPI stays low.

Rates are high now so can’t be ‘kept low’ by allowing them to continue to rise faster than inflation. And Goff has two out clauses so this is not a promise, it is political snake oil.

Vic Crone delivers fairly similar, glib statements, including “keeping residential rates low”. She will also “cap rates”.

So Aucklanders can expect that their rates will remain high and will be capped at whatever the mayor and councillors think they can get away with without being run out of office.

Crone, like Goff, also proposes to make savings (“at least $500million”) and increase efficiency by reducing “back office waste” and by “efficient procurement”.

Meaningless mumbo jumbo.

Mark Thomas…

…has a more varied menu of options, such as: “freezing rates for a year with targeted options” or, “two further options of targeted growth involving an average rates increase of ‘around’ 2-4 per cent including a version of targeted rates”.

No sign of anything different there.

John Palino proposes to…

“…reduce rates by 10 per cent across the first term” by reducing spending on “non-core” and “wasteful spending”, “discretionary activities”, “payroll costs”, bringing these down “to a more normal level”.

At least Palino doesn’t pretend that rates are currently low, but I don’t know how anyone can believe he can get the support of councillors to reduce rates by 10%.

Penny Bright still doesn’t pay her own rates.

Voters are likely to remember things like this: Len Brown breaks election rates promise

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

Nearly one in four households face rates increases of more than 10 per cent, largely due to big rises in property valuations.

 

The ladders of democracy should be equal

Democratic processes should be as even handed and equal opportunity as possible. The Auckland mayoralty contest seems to be far from fair.

Quinton Hogg at Whale Oil pointed out something I have been meaning to post on:

I attended the EMA candidates meeting last week where Ms Crone, Mr Goff and Mark Thomas spoke. And Penny Bright stood outside in the cold as she wasn’t let in.

Of the three Mark Thomas was the most impressive. I had heard Ms Crone previously without being impressed and Mr Goff wandered through the platitudes.

Slater added:

The EMA refused to allow John Palino to participate.

This stinks, regardless of how anyone may rate candidates at this early stage of the pre-campaign campaign.

It is sad to see the Employer’s and Manufacturer’s Association picking and choosing candidates to give exposure to.

Penny bright may have limited appeal, especially to an EMA audience, but she’s prepared to put herself forward and should be given an equal opportunity in a democratic contest.

John Palino (who has Slater as an adviser) and got off to a poor start with a launch that was treated as a bit of a joke by media, but he is one of the choices so should be in the mix at any election meeting.

But this does have some irony as Whale Oil is not exactly an equal opportunity blog for candidates. Slater seems to have been quiet on Palino but has been predictably critical of Goff, and frequently very critical of Crone who happens to have a good chance of keeping Palino out of the contest.

Slater is also often critical of ‘the media party’ and how they influence politics, but this is even more ironic given his claim to be serious media but is far more biased and attack orientated than the MSM are ever likely to be.

The Auckland mayoralty and democracy are being poorly served all round.

The ladders of democracy should be as even as possible.

Crone promises limit to rates rises

Auckland mayoral candidate Victoria Crone has pledged to limit rates rises to a maximum of 2% per year for the next three years (the latest increase under Len Brown’s council is 9.9%).

Crone announced this on her website: Getting the basics right for Auckland

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Vic Crone has announced her first set of policies, fiscally responsible commitments she says are fundamental basics of building a world class city.

The policies were jointly developed with Auckland Future and the announcement includes lifting council performance in four key areas: keeping residential rates low, cutting waste, reducing staff costs and controlling debt – essentials that council needs to get right.

“Last year ratepayers faced a 9.9 per cent average rates increase, for some it was a shocking 15 per cent. As Mayor I will cap average residential rates increases at 2 per cent per annum for the next three years,” says Ms Crone.

“If council isn’t being cost-effective, timely and smart with its spending, it’s downright outrageous to expect more from ratepayers.”

Vic Crone’s leadership will deliver at least $500 million in savings with a focus on reducing back-office waste, efficient procurement, cutting duplication and imposing a Mayor-led Line-Item Review programme.

As a start, Crone will reduce staff costs by 5-10 per cent over the next three years and cap staff numbers at current levels, saving up to $80 million.

“It’s concerning that every year for the last three years council has exceeded its staff cost budget line by over $50 million. I will put a stop to this trend while protecting frontline staff, core services and key capital investments.”

She says any additional operating surpluses will be prioritised toward paying down debt faster than forecast.

“I understand even with minor changes in interest rates, council could breach the 12 per cent interest payments to revenue cap under its current debt management strategy. I’ll ensure council is repaying debt above the current plan target and impose a review of this strategy to better protect Auckland’s interests,” Ms Crone says.

“I would like to acknowledge the Auckland Future candidates who worked together on developing this policy, and other centre-right Council candidates for their input.”

“Council can be a high-performing organisation that delivers real results for ratepayers and is ahead of the game. I have the strong leadership, fresh ideas and energy to get there and it starts by getting the basics in order.”

Link to Policy: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bxk_SbCo_sMkS3lNclpiV1R3cVU

It’s interesting that having been highly critical of Crone in a series of posts, including slamming her lack of policies, Whale Oil hasn’t posted on this policy announcement yet.

In contrast David Farrar posted at Kiwiblog: Some fiscal discipline for Auckland

So Victoria Crone and Auckland Future are pledging a maximum rates increase of 2% annually for the next three years.

Having rates go up massively end endlessly is a political choice. Len Brown and the current Council chose to increase rates by 9.9%.

This year Aucklanders should check out all candidates for Council and the Mayor, and ask if they have made a pledge on rates increases. If they won’t make a pledge, then don’t vote for them unless you want more further massive rates increases.

Pledging to limit rates rises is a start.

Actually limiting them when elected is a different matter, as Auckland has found out with Len Brown. NZ Herald in 2014:

Len Brown breaks election rates promise

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

But as the Herald reported last July in Mayor Len Brown’s Auckland budget passes  the average household from last July was set at 9.9%.

Phil Goff’s website Mayor for a better Auckland is short on detail. His launch speech doesn’t mention any intent on rating levels and “A city that thrives on talent and enterprise – where talent and enterprise can thrive” is a confusing campaign sound bite.

John Palino’s Plan for Auckland is to reduce rates:

Auckland Council has increased rates far beyond the rate of inflation. Ratepayers have been treated as ATM machines that council can raid to fund any kind of spending. In the coming weeks and months John Palino will release fully costed, pragmatic policies designed to reduce Aucklanders’ rate burden.

John believes that Council needs to control spending. As mayor he will implement policies designed to prevent council from spending ratepayers money without regard to whether ratepayers can afford the spending.

Penny Bright seems to think that paying rates is voluntary, having not paid hers for several years.

Voters will have to judge the credibility and resolve of candidates on rates.

Another Auckland mayoral candidate?

With John Palino’s mayoral campaign derailing at it’s train wreck launch attention is already moving back to other candidates and forward to another possible high profile candidate, Michael Barnett.

That would make the field even more crowded on the centre right.

Richard Harman from Politik was at Palino’s launch and has posted on AUCKLAND’S CHAOTIC MAYORAL CAMPAIGN.

He said that National will…

…probably not lose too much sleep over the announcement yesterday by café proprietor and 2013 candidate John Palino that he was standing again.

It didn’t go well.

But…

…with Mr Lusk running  his camopaign, and “Whaleoil” Cameron Slater in the background, Mr Palino looks unlikely to pull out.

At Whale Oil yesterday Cameron Slater suggested candidates consider whether they consolidate their position and policies.

It was no surprise to see the sensible Stephen Berry endorse the position, but with some additional things to consider around rates.

It’s worth considering whether or not these two should consolidate their position and policies.

So would Berry pull out to improve another candidate’s chances? Possibly. I asked him and he responded:

When I announced my candidacy in April last year, I did so on the proviso that I would stand as long as there was no other candidate who represented Affordable Auckland’s position and could attract more votes. That still remains my position and what is most important in this election is ensuring a centre-right majority in the next Council. I’d welcome working with other individuals and groups on the centre-right to make that happen.

It’s too early to say at this stage whether that may be Palino. I have an open mind on the matter and would love to be pleasantly surprised by some serious policy announcements from Crone or Thomas.

I think a lot of people would be pleasantly surprised by some serious policy announcements.

When Berry announced he would stand he said:

“What is most important for the future of Auckland is not whether I win the Mayoralty, but whether politicians advocating smaller government and less regulation win a majority on the Council.

Affordable Auckland will be taking a strategic approach to ensure this occurs.”

Berry’s campaign website: Affordable Auckland. He followed Palino’s launch with a press release More to Rates Than Just the Rate.

Harman looks at the other candidates from centre to right.

Ms Crone has the backing of two Cabinet Ministers so she won’t pull out.

Mark Thomas, who stood aside once before in the 1996 election campaign in Wellington Central to allow Richard Prebble through, will undoubtedly come under immense pressure to stand down.

So Crone will probably remain in the race and Thomas may or may not.

And will Barnett also join the line up?

Meanwhile speculation is mounting among National Party insiders in Auckland that Chamber of Commerce, CEO, Michael Barnett, may also add his name to the list of Mayoral hopefuls.

But…

Mr Barnett can expect little enthusiasm for any candidacy he may want to mount.

Unless that mess can be somehow sorted out this all looks good for Phil Goff. There is no credible competition for him to his left, Penny Bright may get some protest vote but annoys more people than she attracts, and David Hay is there in name only at this stage and I don’t think he will get the Green machine behind him.

Whale Oil Edgelered

Cameron Slater has been running a campaign against Nikki Kaye and Vic Crone on Whale Oil – and yes, it’s fair to wonder if this is a paid for campaign or personal spite.

Today Slater claimed that “Nikki Kaye keeps getting it wrong”.

WOEdgelered1

WOEdgelered2

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But along came Graeme Edgeler:

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That’s called being Edgelered.

(Thanks for the tip PK)