Phil Goff promises ‘Better Auckland’ as second-term Mayor

Venkat Raman

Homes for the unfortunate, better quality of drinking water, Improved transport network, reduced carbon emissions, cleaner beaches and protection of endangered species are among the promises that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff dealt to the residents of the country’s largest City this afternoon.

Launching his Re-Election Campaign at the newly built ‘Diversity Centre’ of the Indian Association (Manukau) of New Zealand, he said that while the first three years of his Mayorality achieved a number of milestones, much work needs to be done to make Auckland one of the greatest cities in the world.

“For New Zealand to succeed as a country, Auckland should succeed as a City. We are proud of our achievements these past three years but there are many more challenges to be addressed, for which I need another term (of three years) as Mayor,” he said.

Improving Infrastructure

Mr Goff said that home for the homeless was addressed on priority and that with funding from the Central Government, about 1000 people were provided with houses in about two-and-quarter years of his term. Half of them were families with children, he said.

“The population of Auckland rises by 40,000 every year and once in three years, it equals the size of Tauranga. As a part of our plan to improve the infrastructure, we will invest $29 billion over the next ten years on transport. Our trains carried more than 100 million passengers last year, more than the combined number of passengers between 2009 and 2014. We also issued 140,000 building consents last year,” he said.

Mr Goff promised that under his Mayorality, Water Care will not be privatised.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Addressed reduction of carbon emissions as a major issue to protect the environment, he promised to work the Central Government on an ‘Action Plan’ with key measures, including  electrifying a third of cars on Auckland’s roads before 2030, a goal achieved by Norway in 2019; raising pollution emission standards on new cars by 2030 to the levels set in Japan in 2014; and improving car occupancy from an average of 1.5 now to two by 2030.

“From 2020, Auckland Council will only purchase electric or hybrid passenger vehicles. Council cars tend to be highly used as they are part of a shared fleet. Therefore, each car we convert to electric or hybrid will have a compounding impact on reducing carbon emissions.  Auckland Transport accelerates converting Auckland’s bus fleet from diesel to electric. Currently Auckland Transport only operates three electric buses with plans for a dozen more over the next year,” Mr Goff said.

He also promised to accelerate the start of electrification of the trainline from Papakura to Pukekohe within two years, thereby helping to reduce emissions and eliminate the need for a transfer for those travelling between Pukekohe and Papakura.

“Achieving these goals will be necessary for Auckland to reduce carbon emissions to levels required worldwide to keep global warming to 1.5 C. Part of leaving a good legacy for future generations is acting on our most pressing issue – Climate Change. Transport emissions make up 47% of overall carbon emissions. That has to change, and we need to take responsibly and lead that change,” he said.

“Contrary to what my opponent (John Tamahere) says, there is no war on cars, but there is one on the congestion that hinders people from getting around the City and on pollution,” Mr Goff added.

Achievements over the years

A Press Statement issued by his Campaign Office said that Mr Goff’s first term as Mayor accounted for record levels of investment to protect and enhance Auckland’s environment.

“This included work to dramatically reduce sewage overflows within a decade as opposed to 30 years, a massive increase in funds to stop kauri dieback spreading and pest eradication. He also surpassed a pledge to plant a million native trees. The Mayor also promised to lead a campaign to ban plastic bags, which he advocated for, and the Government enacted last month. Spending more time in traffic jams while our city chokes on petrol fumes is not the future Aucklanders want, but that will be the result if my opponent is elected.”

There are many candidates vying for the post of Auckland Mayor but Mr Goff’s main contender is former Labour MP John Tamihere.

A Tamihere mayoralty will set Auckland back; my next term will take Auckland forward.

Aucklanders have a clear choice this mayoral election,” said Phil Goff. “As Mayor, I will work to safeguard our children’s future and our city’s environment and move Auckland towards being a 21st-century city that competes with the best cities globally. My opponent is stuck in the past, and has no answers for the congestion, pollution and climate change challenges Auckland faces now,” Mr Goff said.

Jackie Clarke, popular entertainer and singer was the Master of Ceremonies at the event. Earlier, Veteran Journalist and Maori Leader Dr Hare Williams initiated the Meeting with a Serenity Prayer.  Indian Association (Manukau) of New Zealand President Veer Khar welcomed the gathering to the first-ever meeting at the new venue. Young Pearl Pita performed a Samoan dance and General Fiyah (real name Lotima Pome’e) presented his award-winning number ‘Here to Stay.’

More than 200 people attended the Campaign launch. Among them were Labour Ministers Phil Twyford, Jenny Salesa, Aupito William Sio, MPs Michael Wood, Deborah Russell, Raymond Huo, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmere, Councillors Alf Filipaina and Cathay Casey.

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