Goff: Transport and Housing Priority in Making Auckland Better

Continuation into the City Building Phase

 

Last night was the inauguration of the third term of Auckland Council the first under Mayor Phil Goff. In his opening remarks Mayor Goff outline the priorities for the next three years in that improvements must be made (as well as sped up) to our housing and transport situation if Auckland it to fully succeed.

 

From of the Office of the Mayor Phil Goff

Mayor Goff: Housing and Transport priority to make Auckland better 

New Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has stressed the need for bold action to address the housing crisis in Auckland and connect communities with a smart and efficient public transport system. 

Speaking at his inauguration at Auckland’s Town Hall, Goff outlined measures to address housing affordability and boost public transport as key priorities to implement his vision of a socially inclusive city that gives all Aucklanders equal opportunity to make the most of their lives. 

“We want a city that allows all people to live decent lives, that builds prosperity, celebrates diversity and cherishes and sustains its environment,” he said. 

“It is critical that we have the infrastructure in place to service the needs of new residents now rather than after the event. So far, this has not happened,” he said. 

Goff also underlined the importance of protecting, sustaining and enhancing Auckland’s environment saying that reducing carbon emissions was a priority as was protecting Auckland’s harbours. 

“Siltation and over fishing are destroying our marine environment. Our million trees project can help address these issues as can electrification of vehicle fleets, use of technology to provide car sharing and slashing our use of plastic bags.” 

He promised to focus on halting further encroachment into Auckland’s harbour and progressively restore public access to the waterfront.

 

Going up and out 

Goff said that building more secure, affordable and healthy homes was an urgent priority for the city. 

“Each night hundreds of people sleep rough. Kids are living in cars. Families are sleeping in garages. We want our children to grow up in an inclusive and fair community and that starts with secure, affordable and healthy homes.” 

Goff said that the Council had a significant role to play in building houses and increasing affordability, and that it needed to do so in partnership with the Government. 

“Passing the Unitary Plan was a turning point for our city. We made the decision to go up as well as out, but zoning does not represent development-ready properties.” 

“We need access to new forms of funding, we need a best practice consent process and will look at measures to curb land-banking. And we will work with Government  to bring more affordable and social housing to Auckland.”

 

Connecting communities 

Goff was encouraged by developments on Auckland’s transport system saying that the opening of the new Otahuhu bus and railway station symbolised a new era of a modern and integrated public transport system that would decongest Auckland’s roads. 

However, he pointed out that Council and its partners would need to accelerate its efforts to bring more developments like Otahuhu to life. 

“No great city ever built its way out of congestion by simply relying on new roads. Electrification, double-tracking, new stations, busways and cycleways have helped, but we need to do more,” he said. 

He reiterated his call for mass transit between the CBD and the airport, and the need for light rail on the isthmus.

 

Doing more with less 

Goff underlined his promise to do more with less, saying the Council would have to use its resources wisely, cut waste and duplication, and he promised to spearhead a change in culture at the Council. 

“We are going to become a can-do Council, working with Aucklanders to tackle their problems rather than standing in their way. Part of this will be better accountability over the Council Controlled Organisations to ensure coherence and consistency between different arms of Council.” 

Goff also stressed the partnership approach needed to move Auckland forward saying the city had outgrown antiquated laws and funding systems that reflected an era of boroughs and provincial towns. 

“The scale of Auckland’s problems are unique to New Zealand and cannot be solved by our efforts alone. Central government recognises this and we need to work together to kick-start affordable housing and secure investment in our transport system.”

—ends—

 

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Goff’s Opening Speech

Kei nga mana whenua o Tamaki Makaurau, tena koutou

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi, e nga hau e wha

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Nau mai, piki mai, haere mai.

 

Welcome tonight to our inauguration of the third term of this Auckland Council.

I’d like to particularly acknowledge Mana Whenua, Minister for Local Government the Honourable Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, MP David Seymour, fellow councillors and local board members.

A new Council gives us the chance for a fresh start.

 

And we begin our journey with a sense of optimism and hope for the future of this place we call home.

That journey begins with the values that each of us holds dear.

The values that will guide us as leaders of this city over the next three years.

The fundamental principles or standards of behaviour that we believe in and are committed to following.

The way that we will conduct ourselves and drive the expectations that we set for others.

For me, and I’m sure for all of you here, it is about putting people first.

Working in their best interests not our own.

 

Doing what is just and fair.

Making the decisions needed to ensure that all people get the opportunities they deserve to reach their full potential.

And that no one is left behind.

 

I stand here tonight with a clear and compelling vision for the future of this city.

A dream and a direction that I hope fellow councillors and our communities will be inspired by and join with me to realise.

The challenge before us is to make this city of ours one of the greatest places in the world to live.

We start with enormous advantages.

The Maori name for Auckland is Tamaki Makaurau – the place desired by many.

It is a place located in a stunning environment – its coastlines, harbours, islands and more than a thousand beaches; its iconic maunga and beautiful natural reserves.

Tamaki Makaurau has cultural richness and diversity, with 40 per cent of our population born elsewhere but choosing to make this country and place their home.

 

Auckland is New Zealand’s international city.

Its size and rate of growth offers choice and opportunity in work, education and lifestyle not found elsewhere in this country.

We make up more than 35 per cent of New Zealand’s population and production but 50 per cent of its growth.

Auckland is this nation’s strongest asset in competing with cities across the Tasman and with hundreds of cities of a similar size across the world to attract the talent and high value enterprises that we need and retain our best and brightest.

It is in New Zealand’s interests as much as Auckland’s that we seize this opportunity.

If size and growth are advantages, they also present significant challenges that as leaders we must confront.

 

In just over a decade, we will add half a million people to our population.

It is critical that we have the infrastructure in place to service the needs of these new residents.

Infrastructure has lagged behind growth and affected the quality of our lives.

With 800 new cars registered every week in Auckland, our roads have become more and more congested and gridlocked.

Demand for housing is outpacing supply.

House prices and rents have skyrocketed.

Auckland has secured a title we did not want – the fourth least affordable city in the world.

 

The scale of these challenges are unique in New Zealand.

They cannot be solved just by our efforts or through the narrow revenue base of rates that we rely on.

New Zealand’s laws and our funding systems reflect an era when local government was about boroughs and provincial towns. They are not designed for a global city undergoing phenomenal growth.

I am confident that there is growing recognition of this by central government.

We need new partnerships and new revenue sources to tackle the challenges before us.

Council has a role to play and has already done much.

 

Passing the Unitary Plan was a turning point for our city.

We made the decision to go up as well as out and that is necessary for a city of our size.

But zoning does not represent development-ready properties.

We need access to new forms of funding to ensure that we have the infrastructure needed to enable development.

We need a best practice consent process and measures to curb land-banking and speculation.

 

Some of that we can do.

But some of it, such as kick-starting affordable housing and providing sufficient social housing, must come from central government.

What I know is this.

Aucklanders want bold action to address the housing crisis.

Each night hundreds of people sleep rough around the city. Kids are living in cars. Families are sleeping in garages. This is not the decent society we want our city to be.

 

We want our children to grow up in an inclusive and fair community and that starts with secure, affordable and healthy homes.

We want more good quality houses built to meet demand.

We want homes to be the building blocks for communities with good urban design, community facilities and sufficient open public space.

 

On transport, there are encouraging developments.

Last Saturday, I opened the new Otahuhu bus and railway station with Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

It symbolises a new era of a modern and integrated public transport system. That is what we need to help decongest our roads.

The City Rail Link will help too when it comes online in 2023.

No great city ever built its way out of congestion by simply relying on new roads.

Aucklanders want a smart, efficient public transport system that works for them.

We have made progress through electrification, double tracking, new stations, busways and cycleways.

But much more needs to be done.

 

We need mass transit between the CBD and the airport because these are the highest employment growth areas and tourist numbers will rise over time from 3.5 to over 5 million a year.

We also need light rail on the isthmus.

We need investment in our transport system at a higher and faster rate than what the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan provides.

We need central government to play a role given that the investment we need can’t be funded just through rates and borrowing.

 

With congestion costing us $3 billion a year in productivity and other losses we can’t afford not to invest more.

Another significant challenge we face is rebuilding trust and confidence in our Council.

During the campaign, there was a pattern to the public feedback.

At every meeting, I was told to keep rates down and then presented with a list of the ten most urgent projects the local community wanted Council to spend more money on.

This is not a new challenge.

 

There will always be unlimited demand but limited resources.

That’s why we have to use our resources wisely, cut waste and duplication, and learn to do more with less.

That is a challenge we are ready to confront in our Annual Plan.

Aucklanders want to see a change in culture so that we become a can-do Council.

They know resources are limited but they want to see us working with them to tackle their problems rather than seeing us as standing in the way.

They want better accountability over our Council Controlled Organisations and to know there is coherence and consistency between different arms of Council.

Local Boards are an essential part of our democracy and we will be looking at what further decisions should be made at that level rather than at Council’s Governing Body.

 

We need to better protect, sustain and enhance our environment.

We must preserve and improve water and air quality and make our city a green and pleasant place to live.

Siltation of our harbours and the Gulf is a serious problem destroying our marine environment. Overfishing is damaging fish stocks.

Our million trees project can help address this and also creates carbon sinks to help meet our obligations to deal with carbon emissions.

 

Electrification of vehicle fleets and using new technology such as apps to car share will help.

Slashing our use of plastic bags, as the UK has done cutting use by over 80%, will also significantly cut the hundreds of millions of plastic bags Auckland puts into our waste stream every year.

We must stop further encroachment into our harbour and progressively restore public access to our waterfront.

There is a lot to do.

 

I want to thank Aucklanders for putting their confidence in me and fellow councillors.

There is no greater privilege than serving your community as an elected representative.

We must earn that privilege every day in everything that we do.

As members of Council, each of us will have different views.

We will robustly debate issues to find the best solutions to the challenges we face.

 

However, people also expect us to work collaboratively in the best interests of our city, leaving aside party politics, personal differences and self-interest.

The public expects us to maintain high standards of integrity and behaviour, and to do our jobs with commitment, determination and energy.

We have chosen to do this job and we will meet those standards.

 

There is a group of people I particularly want to acknowledge.

It is the families of elected representatives, who did not choose public life, but frequently pay the price through lost family time.

Thank you for your support and for your forbearance.

You make it possible for us to do our jobs.

For me personally, I want to thank my wife Mary and my children Kris, Kieran and Sara for making it possible for me to undertake this new responsibility as Mayor.

I’d also like to acknowledge those who have gone before us and created the foundation upon which we are building.

To outgoing Mayor Len Brown and our former councillors, thank you for your hard work and for the achievements which have progressed our city.

In a couple of weeks’ time, Mary and I will have our first grandchild.

The importance of what we on Council do today will be judged on the city we create for our grandchild and your children and grandchildren.

 

What I want for them is a great city which cherishes and sustains its environment and protects the things that we love about living here.

We want a city which celebrates its diversity and the richness that brings us.

We want a socially inclusive city that values all its people and gives them equal opportunity to make the most of their lives.

A city that allows all people to live decent lives.

We want a vibrant, exciting city which is culturally rich, creative, innovative and a centre of learning.

 

We want a city that builds its prosperity by attracting and encouraging talent and entrepreneurship.

Working together with collective commitment around this vision, we can build a better Auckland.

And make this city a great place for us and for future generations to live.

 

Thank you.

—ends—

 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff www.forabetterauckland.org.nz
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff
http://www.forabetterauckland.org.nz

 

 

 

 

 

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