There is no doubt that the Auckland we once knew ten years ago is not the Auckland we know now. There is change afoot and we can all see it. Auckland is in continuous demand and we are excited about the idea of realising our potential as a truly great cosmopolitan city.
With unprecedented levels of growth, however, we’re facing considerable challenges. We are battling a decade of rising house and rental prices with a slow consenting pipeline and lagging infrastructure. Our public transport is in dire need of priority investment and our roads are forever congested. On top of this, instead of a united Super City we see vast groups feeling left out, and a broader Auckland community who do not feel connected to the very people who lead and serve them. The harsh truth is just 15 per cent of Aucklanders trust our Council. At the last election there was a mere turnout of 34 per cent.
That is why I resigned from my job as Managing Director of Xero to shake Council up. I can see the capabilities desperately lacking in Auckland’s leadership, and I know I can bring them to the table. I offer twenty years’ experience across business, government and social enterprise. Most importantly, I have a reputation of courage to achieve what others think impossible.
We should not have to settle for a ‘better’ Auckland or even a ‘liveable’ Auckland. We deserve to be a world class city that is smart in its design and with its resources, competing on the international stage. To champion this we desperately need an injection of fresh ideas and strong leadership. Council does not have a monopoly on ideas for our future, and we need a leader who can genuinely build trust and support in the community to take us forward. That is why I am excited about the prospect of being Auckland’s next Mayor.
I have released a set of policies that address our shortfall in critical infrastructure and core services, reducing waste and improving value, while engaging Aucklanders in our future. It is important we carry this out in an integrated way.
My fiscal policy puts the financial foundations in place for a world class Auckland. That includes lifting Council’s performance and getting the basics right. My plan will cap average rates rises at 2 per cent for all residential ratepayers, cut $500 million of wasteful spending, reduce staff costs by 5-10 per cent, and pay down debt faster. We need to take the pressure off rates by broadening our sources of funding.
Since the amalgamation five years ago we have faced an almost 50 per cent increase in rates, near 40 per cent increase in costs and an approximate 50 per cent increase in employee costs from the base number agreed at the time of amalgamation. This is appalling and shows our desperation for a fiscally responsible leader who has the confidence and trust of the community to spend their hard-earned money wisely.
To help and improve confidence and engagement it is time we start driving better outcomes with greater transparency. Aucklanders need and deserve much more open, transparent communication and community engagement that will enhance decision-making. I have proposed three crucial initiatives that address transparency in Council. These include initiating a strong data programme that effectively opens Council’s books at a line-by-line level, creating an Independent Budget Office (IBO) to provide cost-benefit analysis for the public and elected members, and quarterly Mayor’s report cards detailing progress/no progress on our big issue areas such as housing and transport.
It is clear Auckland is facing a housing crisis as a result of a lack of planning and action. With a 30,000 home shortage we are not seeing the necessary progress in the basics of housing supply. On top of this, affordable housing goes down the drain as the average house price reaches $1 million.
Auckland Council has floundered on forecasting, planning, democratic consultation and delivery, and is now failing to show action in unclogging the housing supply chain. I am confident, however, with urgent and substantial action, we can make a massive dent in the housing gap. There are practical and realistic actions to address housing supply and affordability in Auckland, which include releasing land faster for development, implementing sunset clauses on land sold by Government and Council, shaking up Council’s consenting process to deliver good quality, faster and less costly outcomes, and partnering with private capital and social enterprise to also build affordable housing.
With our growing pains, we are now experiencing major infrastructure headaches. Take for example our public transport. This is something we are certainly on the back foot of. Far too often I have heard the daily reality of traffic congestion for Aucklanders and the nightmare it is getting to and from work. It is crucial that we address our public transport system, as it is critical to addressing the congestion on our roads.
As Mayor I will improve transport and ease traffic congestion by expanding the frequency and capacity of burgeoning ferry services, providing more frequent and timely feeder services to stations, and substantially boosting the number of park and rides across the city.
Traffic congestion is one of the worst side effects of a growing city and it has adverse affects on productivity, health and pollution. Technology, however, can play an effective role in developing an integrated world class transport network in Auckland.
It will be my mission as Mayor to ensure we start delivering a smart transport network that is customer focused and sets key performance indicators for reducing congestion. Automated vehicles, big data analytics and sensors tracking congestion in real time, are a few examples of how technology can fundamentally change the decisions we make as a city for the better.
Changing Council’s culture to one of unity, action and putting Aucklanders first is critical. While this will not be an easy task, I have a reputation as a proven change leader. Having led extensive culture change programmes in big organisations, including Government departments, I know it is possible. We need strong leadership dedicated to taking us forward as a city and this is what I will provide.
A Mayor of tomorrow, not yesterday
We are all proud Aucklanders that love this city and want it to reach its full potential, but for this to happen we need strong leadership that looks ahead with confidence. As Mayor, I will put my energy, drive and fresh ideas into building a world class city that all of our families and our communities deserve.
For more information on my policies please visit www.vic4mayor.nz
Vic Crone is a candidate for Auckland Mayor. Voting takes place between 6 September and 8 October.