9 May 2019

Auckland mayoralty: John Tamihere says if elected he will sack AT board

3:34 pm on 9 May 2019

Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere would make it a priority to sack the Auckland Transport (AT) board, if elected, he said.

John Tamihere

John Tamihere Photo: Twitter

Mr Tamihere has been a vocal critic of the council-controlled organisation, which he said had been implementing strategies to "harass people out of their cars".

But a councillor said a mayor didn't have the power to simply remove the board on his own.

Mr Tamihere last night released a series of digital billboards displaying his pledge to sack the board. In an accompanying media release, he called AT "ideological bullies".

"While I support public transport, Auckland Transport has no mandate to carry out a range of deliberate strategies designed to harass people out of their cars. [Mayor Phil] Goff is determined to turn Auckland into the city of snails," he said.

"Under Goff's mayoralty, ideologues within the council have deliberately set out to narrow roads, reduce speed limits, take away parking spaces, take away free left-hand turns, change traffic light patterns to favour 'people not the car', and destroy communities like St Heliers."

Auckland mayor Phil Goff

Phil Goff Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

He said Mr Goff had allowed this to happen "either because he has been too weak to call them to account or he is complicit".

Mr Goff has announced as his first policy of his 2019 mayoral campaign a full independent review of council controlled organisations, including Auckland Transport, established as part of the super city amalgamation in 2010.

No power to sack AT board - councillor

Councillor Richard Hills said no mayor had the power to sack the board because, just like all the councillors responsible for the appointments, they have only one vote.

"Mayors can't just cut all the members of Auckland Transport - it's just not possible.

"They were appointed by councillors and, as far as I know, all the AT directors were appointed unanimously by the Appointments and Performance Committee.

"So I'm not sure how a mayor would come in and fire a board of directors on his own."

In response, Mr Tamihere said he had polled councillors and would run against those who supported AT.

"As I continue to release policy, you get a good contest of ideas. Then you say to yourself, 'Okay, if this guy wins and gets the numbers on the council, it's a done deal'.

"Now, to get a done deal, you've got to say what you're going to do so people can then have a clear view and then, for the first time, have a choice. That's what the democratic process is about."

Goff to review city agencies

In an announcement this week, Mr Goff said he would review city agencies if re-elected and that it was the right time to do a stock take of what was working and what was not.

The review would also include Ports of Auckland, Regional Facilities and Watercare.

Mr Goff said at present there was no way of ensuring the council owned companies listened to people's concerns before they made decisions.

"Ten years after we've set the super city up, let's build on what the strengths are and let's tackle some of the structural problems that require often changes of legislation."

He said he had told AT it needed to be more responsive recently when they refused to turn up to a meeting of 600 people concerned about their proposals. He said they needed to listen and respond to the community over their operational decisions.

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