10 Oct 2022

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown on council-controlled organisations and what needs 'fixing'

11:33 pm on 10 October 2022
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, left, with council chief executive Jim Stabback.

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown, left, with council chief executive Jim Stabback. Photo: RNZ / Jonty Dine

New Auckland mayor Wayne Brown says the boards of council-controlled organisations will remain in place for the next few weeks.

Brown arrived at work this morning after cancelling media interviews yesterday.

He had campaigned on replacing the directors of major council-controlled agencies, pledging to bring the organisations back directly under the council's control. Auckland Transport chair Adrienne Young-Cooper quit hours after Brown won the race.

In brief remarks to media this morning, Brown said there would be an an interim period of "weeks" before changes to the council-controlled agencies.

"Everyone's remaining for a little bit," he said.

Taking back control of the agencies did not mean ownership, but clear direction on what they do and the types of people appointed, he said.

He said he would be meeting councillors today, including some for the first time, to form a team.

"I've had 300 texts listing every possible [Aucklanders] need fixing so I'm going to get on with the things I can deal with first," he told media.

Public Transport Users Association national coodinator Jon Reeves hoped the mayor would focus on sorting out the "huge disruption" during planned rolling closures on major train lines from next year as KiwiRail upgrades the tracks.

"I suspect in the next week or two he's going to be talking with KiwiRail and Auckland Transport to tell them they better come up with a Plan B that works for commuters."

There were already huge problems in making Auckland's public transport work, with cancellations on trains, buses and ferries on an "almost hourly basis", he said.

Auckland Transport deputy chair Wayne Donnelly is heading the agency in the interim and AT said directors would remain while any review took place and arrangements were made.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges told Morning Report a new mayor and council was a chance for a re-set.

"The guy's got empathy for the private sector I think you've got a guy who wants to harness and unleash business. That's music to our ears.

"Wayne Brown is a rough diamond but if he can channel that into being Auckland's rough diamond in a way Mayor Goff perhaps didn't particularly around business issues that'd be very welcome indeed.

"There's just this general ... malaise or sense that Auckland's got to get its mojo back."

Viv Beck, whose decision to pull out of the mayoralty race helped secure a centre-right win, told Morning Report she did not discuss her plan to withdraw with Brown.

Beck, who returns to her role as Heart of the City chief executive, said the move to the centre right in council and at local board level would be positive for business.

The Covid-19 recovery needed a much more aligned effort between central and local government, the private sector and the not-for-profit social sector, and the election result sent a strong signal to the government.

She hoped central city businesses would not need to fight so hard with council over issues affected them such as construction.

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