Phil Goff 'tempted' to push for an Auckland visa

The AM Show 14/10/2019

Newly reelected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff isn't promising the city's notoriously awful congestion will be any better when he finishes his second term in office.

Goff easily fended off a fiery challenge from his former Labour Party colleague John Tamihere, winning by a margin of nearly 100,000 votes. 

"You don't let those sorts of things go to your head," the political veteran told The AM Show on Monday.

Every day in office is a privilege you've got to work for.

His first term had a heavy focus on transport, which will continue in his second. But asked by host Duncan Garner if he could promise better traffic, Goff was realistic.

"What I can promise is we are making real progress on transport networks. If you keep growing by 40,000 a year you're running fast to stand still, and that's our challenge."

Phil Goff. Photo credit: The AM Show

Most of New Zealand's population growth and record migration over the past decade has been in Auckland. Goff said he is powerless to stop people wanting to settle in the city, which awkwardly sprawls across a narrow isthmus and around a number of volcanic cones. 

"That's not within my power. You can't do that unless you put a visa in," he joked.

"I'm sometimes tempted you know, a visa at the Bombay Hills - all those people that say we're Jafas, you've got to have a visa to come to Auckland now." 

Even if he could stem the tide, Goff suggested he wouldn't. 

People coming into the town... they add a whole lot to our city. They add to the prosperity of the city.

Tamihere promised to freeze rates and get rid of the regional fuel tax, which Auckland Council implemented in 2018 - with the backing of Tamihere's running mate Christine Fletcher.

"We need that money for investment in our city," said Goff. "Where does it come from? It comes from you and me as ratepayers and taxpayers. But if we don't invest, we just become more and more ingested... Does anybody like imposing new taxes? No, you can't like that. But if you don't do it, that would have left a $4.3 billion hole." 

Turnout in the Auckland election was very low - barely more than a third of eligible voters bothered to have their say. Goff said he's been trying to figure out why.

We've got to take a long, hard look at it. I've asked a lot of people - why is the turnout so low?

"A whole lot of people that are quite well-informed, they said well, we get those ballot papers and we look through - district health board. We don't know what it does, we don't know any of the people. 

"The media doesn't cover the council very much so they don't know who their Councillors are or who their local board members are."

Goff says his next step will be to meet the new councillors and find out what their priorities are.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Dan Satherley