July 14, 2022
Last night, the NZ Herald published the headline results from our July Auckland mayoral poll - and today we’re releasing the full report exclusive to our supporters.
The headline results: Efeso Collins front-runner, but Molloy close behind with Beck and Brown in third and fourth place
According to the Ratepayers’ Alliance/Curia Poll, Labour-endorsed candidate Councillor Efeso Collins (Manukau) is on 27% among decided voters. Businessman Leo Molloy is hot on his heels with 23% support.
Heart of the City CEO Viv Beck - who Communities & Ratepayers endorsed on Tuesday night - comes in at third place on 18%. Ex-Far North mayor Wayne Brown is further behind with just 15%. Craig Lord also received considerable support (13%) and New Conservative leader Ted Johnston debuted in the Ratepayers’ Alliance/Curia Poll on 5%.
Exclusively for Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance Supporters: you can read the full polling report here.
In our July poll we also measured name recognition and “favourability”. Curia Market Research asked respondents if they had heard of each candidate and if so whether they had a positive, neutral, or negative opinion of them.
Net favourability was the difference between the number of people who had a positive opinion and those who had a negative opinion of the candidate.
When it came to name recognition, Leo Molloy led with 64% though he had the lowest favourability rating of all the candidates. Despite low name recognition, Wayne Brown and Viv Beck had the highest favourability. You can read the full report here.
What does it mean?
It’s clear that Aucklanders want a new direction. An overwhelming majority of decided voters are backing centre-right or anti-establishment candidates.
But the field is too crowded. Efeso Collins has the advantage because he’s backed by the Labour Party machine - and if there is anything the left does well, it’s organise.
The failure of the National Party to endorse a candidate for change in Auckland means that the centre-right lacks decisive leadership. As I told the NZ Herald last night, Christopher Luxon might as well join Labour and endorse Collins.
There is still hope. Nominations officially open tomorrow and will close on 12 August. In response to our poll, we’re hearing rumours that at least one of the candidates might pull out. If there was ever a time to put principle before ego, now is it.
Those candidates who know they won’t win have a duty to bow out and ensure the forces of change sweep Auckland in October.
You make this possible
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance/Curia poll is the only public poll of the Auckland mayoralty to be released in 2022. We hope to bring you two further polls before voting opens on 16 September, so that you can make an informed decision.
But we can’t do it without you – please consider making a donation to support our mission of reasonable rates, sensible spending and more transparency in the Super City.
Thank you for your support,
Josh Van Veen
Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance
ps. This effort is 100% funded by donations from our supporters. Unlike other ratepayer groups, we don't take money from Auckland Council! That means we're relying on your support.
June 17, 2022
Exclusive to members and supporters of the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance, today we are releasing the first Ratepayers' Alliance-Curia Poll covering this year's mayoralty election, and other issues on the super city.
June 03, 2022
Only 3% of Aucklanders support higher spending on cycleways, according to a new poll.
The scientific poll of 1,000 New Zealanders was conducted by Curia Market Research and asked, On the whole, do you think your local council is spending too much on cycleways, or too little? Or does the current level of spending seem about right?
Forty-two percent of New Zealanders think local councils are spending too much on cycleways. Only 10% of respondents think councils are spending too little on cycleways, while 36% think current spending is about right.
However, a regional breakdown found that a majority (52%) of Aucklanders think Auckland Council is spending too much on cycleways and 28% think current spending is about right. Only 3% think too little is being spent. The results pour scorn on claims by the cycling lobby and Auckland Transport that there is wide public support for the Council to spend billions more on cycleways over the next decade.
It is important to note that the Auckland results are based on a smaller sample size of 273 responses with a higher margin of error. But even so, the poll confirms what many of us have long believed. Auckland Council has been captured by a special interest group who represent less than 10% of Aucklanders. The overwhelming majority (80%) believe that either too much has been spent or enough has been spent.
June 02, 2022
Officials have revealed that Auckland Council spent $320,000 on 50 art and lighting installations for the “City of Colour” event, while ratepayer-funded Heart of the City spent $60,000 to promote it. The Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance is calling for mayoral candidates Viv Beck and Councillor Efeso Collins to please explain.
May 13, 2022
Documents released under the Local Official Information and Meetings Act reveal that Council staff have spent $320,000 on the production, installation, and maintenance of temporary artwork for an immersive light trail.
Mayoral candidate Viv Beck’s ratepayer-funded Heart of the City also pledged $60,000 to promote the event. Staff from the Council’s Development Programme Office claim that the sculptures and light displays are designed to bring people back to the city.
Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesman Josh Van Veen said, “Who is going to make a special trip to the city to look at an inflatable cactus garden or canopy of ribbons? There is a cost of living crisis. Auckland households and small businesses are struggling to pay the bills.”
“Councillors need to seriously reflect on whether this is the kind of gimmick they had in mind when voting for the Recovery Budget last year. We're now looking down the barrel of a $175 million deficit in the next financial year. The Council can barely afford to pay for essential services.”
“But maybe the real question is why the Council needs a Development Programme Office when it has given Eke Panuku, the economic development agency, an annual budget of nearly $40 million?”
The Ratepayers’ Alliance is challenging mayoral candidates Viv Beck and Councillor Efeso Collins to go on record and defend the City of Colour event.
Today I'm introducing our new Campaigns Manager, Josh Van Veen. Josh started with us ten days ago, but is already exposing Auckland Council in a way the mainstream media are not. As you'll read below, Josh exposes that the amount Auckland Transport plans to spend on new cycleways equals an incredible $6,200 for every household.
With new rates, mounting debt, Auckland Transport running out of money, and Nanaia Mahuta's plan to steal our "3 Waters" assets, the work of the Ratepayers' Alliance and our mission of Reasonable Rates and Sensible Spending in our Super City has never been more crucial.
I asked Josh to provide some commentary on the Council as he starts in his new role. Here's what he asked me to forward:
The key problem with Auckland Council is that too many decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats without genuine public consultation, leading to tremendous waste, and incompetence that would not be tolerated anywhere else. I know this because I've spent a decade working in the public sector, including for a Council-Controlled Organisation. I decided to leave my role in local government and join the Ratepayers' Alliance because I was fed up with seeing grossly overpaid middle managers run the Council like a corporate playground.
Just how bad is the financial situation at Auckland Council?
In February, officials revealed that Auckland Council's debt has reached $10.5 billion and there is a projected shortfall of $85 million for the 2022/23 financial year. Astonishingly, the word ‘debt’ appeared only once in the public consultation document that went out for feedback in March.
To put Mr Goff's legacy of $10.5 billion of debt in perspective, that is the equivalent of a $21,050 overdraft in the letterbox of every single Auckland household.
Unfortunately, most ratepayers were too busy balancing their household finances to notice the public consultation which passed with almost no media attention. Less than 1% of Aucklanders submitted - and most of those were the boxed-in questionnaire response submissions (which, as we know, the officials prepare to ensure that only those things they want ratepayers to focus on - such as new cycleway - are included.
Councillor Desley Simpson (Ōrākei), who is Phil Goff's Chair of his Finance and Performance Committee, said the 1% result was “pleasing”. I bet it was! This is exactly the kind of fly by night consultation the bureaucrats rely on to get sign off from the politicians. Of course, the mounting debt reflects very poorly on Ms Simpson and Mr Goff's financial stewardship over the last 6 years.
Ms Simpson sells herself as fiscally prudent - representing the Ōrākei ward's blue ribbon leafy suburbs of Remuera, St Johns, Mission Bay, and Kohimarama – but her voting record says otherwise...
Now the Council plans to spend $6200 per household on new cycleways
Last week, Councillors endorsed a plan by Auckland Transport that signals spending a further $1.7 billion on new cycleways over the next decade.
The $1.7 billion is in addition to $306 million of funding allocated to cycling last year, and more than $1 billion of projects already underway. In total that adds up to $6,200 per household on cycleways.
You really couldn't make this up. The spending is unfunded - I was in the room when Mayor Goff literally said "I don't know where the $1.7 billion is going to come from" - but he voted for it anyway!
With this sort of attitude is it any wonder that Auckland Transport is already running out of money and might not be able to maintain public transport at current levels.
The elephant in the room: just 1% of travel is on a bike
But here's the thing, cycling accounts for just 1% of the distance travelled in Auckland. Even with this massive investment, Auckland Transport expects that number to only increase to 7% by the 2030s (even that is being optimistic). Unlike the Copenhagen dream the cycle advocates sell, Auckland is not flat. It's also spread out.
On Thursday, I spoke to Susie Ferguson on RNZ's Morning Report - I pointed out the plain fact that most Aucklanders don’t want to cycle.
The arrogance of Auckland Transport on display...
As you can see Auckland Council continues to be the poster child of fiscal irresponsibility. But it’s even worse than that. During the Town Hall meeting, we learnt that AT officials deliberately withheld the business case from elected councillors until 8:30pm the night before the $1.7 billion cycle plan vote.
...and the claim from the Mayor that billion dollar "business cases" being voted on don't need to be read by councillors!
But the most extraordinary revelation came when Mayor Goff and Councillor Chris Darby (North Shore), who chairs the Mayor's Planning Committee, reassured their colleagues that it is unusual for elected members to read business cases, as they are ‘technical documents’! Jesus wept.
This blatant attempt to ignore good governance and process was challenged by some councillors, but unfortunately still succeeded. Thirteen councillors voted in favour of the business case without having studied it in detail.
Seven councillors abstained - including centre-right "C&R" councillors Christine Fletcher (Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa) and Desley Simpson.
Unlike the Councillors, your humble Ratepayers' Alliance has read the billion dollar business case
Had the Mayor and Councillors read the business case, they would have seen that AT says there is already a $20 billion shortfall in funding for infrastructure. You must ask: if the money isn’t there, why are AT officials spending a fortune on consultants and planning activities for infrastructure that they know there isn't the money to build?
Furthermore, why are they doing it at the expense of the public transport system and roads that Aucklanders actually use? And why are Councillors loading up on projects they know will lead to stratospheric rates increases in years to come?
These are questions we're going to keep asking so long as we continue to have the support of Aucklanders who make our work possible.
The cycleway blowout is just the beginning. In a Council election year, the Ratepayers' Alliance will be working to ensure you know which councillors have consistently voted for big-spending and even higher rates. They can fool some of the people some of the time. But they can’t fool all the people all the time. It's time to reclaim local democracy for Auckland, and I'm looking forward to doing my part to make it happen!
Thank you for your support,
February 16, 2022
Aucklanders' ability to freely use and enjoy the Hauraki Gulf is at risk.
This is because the Hauraki Gulf Forum, a consultative and advocacy body established under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act, is about to vote to remove elected councillors and in their place establish an iwi controlled model. If this goes ahead 2.2 million residents in and around the Hauraki Gulf will lose their ability for democratic accountability. Councils and elected officials won't even be able to ensure your ongoing access to these waterways and boatramps.
This proposal will impact recreational fishing, boating, and swimming in some beaches and could be a barrier to businesses who make their livelihood on the Gulf.
Right now a majority of the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s members, which also includes Ministerial representatives, as well as iwi representatives, are elected Councillors. This is about to change.
The newly formed “Gulf Users Group” has launched a campaign to protect democratic accountability in the Gulf. We are asking Aucklanders to consider signing their petition and back the cause via www.GulfUsers.org.nz
The Forum is proposing to ask Government to change its composition to that of 50-50 co-governance authority with mana whenua, and for elected Councillors to be removed. It is proposed that this new Authority develop its own statutory plans that will overrule council policies and even central government rule for all matters in respect of the Gulf.
Regional Parks also at risk
This will mean that like Lake Waikaremoana, the Auckland volcanic cones and the gems accessible to the public could be cut off at a whim. Auckland Council is also consulting on a Regional Park Draft Management Plan that proposes shifting authority for Regional Parks that border the Gulf to the Forum. It would mean decisions on access to up to 21 of the 28 Regional Parks currently owned by Auckland ratepayers would be controlled by the co-governed Forum.
Some say a co-governance model is in the best interest of the Gulf. Today, Te Urewera, Lake Waikaremoana, and its Great Walk are under a co-governance model. This was established with the best intentions and assurances from Government that access would remain the same. In practice, access to the park, walk and lake has been severely restricted.
We can't give up democratic control of ratepayer assets
Take a minute to sign the petition to stop changes to the way the Hauraki Gulf is controlled.
>> Click here to sign <<
Thank you for your support.
P.S We're backing this campaign because fundamentally here at the Ratepayers' Alliance we are democrats. The gulf proposal is totally inconsistent with democracy and accountability. Click here to support the cause.
September 10, 2021
Auckland Transport has spent $121,000 pointing out pedestrian shortcuts through the central city, the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance can reveal.
$29,000 was spent pasting images of feet on footpaths, and $72,000 was spent on 'activations and promotions' which involved paying people in juvenile costumes to dance around sandwich boards and play hopscotch.
Cut-throughs like St Kevin's arcade and Vulcan Lane are hardly hidden secrets that need flashy promotional videos. While pedestrians and motorists alike struggle to navigate a sea of orange road cones, the Council is busy patting itself on the back for the city's decades-old laneways.
This is part of a continued pattern of Auckland Council wasting money on frivolous aesthetic experiments on roads and footpaths. Aucklanders wondering where their ever-increasing rate bills go deserve real improvement of services, not indulgent promotion campaigns.
June 17, 2021
The 2021 edition of Ratepayers’ Report confirms that Auckland Council is charging the second highest rates in the country, with an average bill of $3,599 per rating unit.
May 25, 2021
Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson Jo Holmes says, “There is no good justification for Auckland’s disproportionately high rates. Higher rates are not and should not be seen as inevitable. Auckland Council should be taking cues from more efficient councils to ease the burden on ratepayers.”
“The average residential rate for Auckland is now $3,599, more than $1,000 greater than the average nationwide average residential rate of $2,572. This is an increase of $130 from last year, compared to the nationwide average of $111.”
“In fact, Auckland Council's rates bills are now so high that Wellington and Christchurch City Councils are more than $800 cheaper than Auckland's. Smaller rural councils, such as Buller District charge half what Phil Goff's Council charges us.”
“The formation of the Super City was supposed to save ratepayers money. But where is the efficiency that was promised? Rates are a payment for services, and Aucklanders definitely aren't getting value for money.”
“Other findings from the Ratepayers’ Report make for concerning reading and go some way toward explaining why we pay so much in rates. 3,161 Council staff are paid more than $100,000 – that’s an increase of 330 people in 12 months. And the Council has been spending $811 per household just paying down the interest on its debt.”
“Mayor Phil Goff has also maxed out the credit card. The Council's liabilities now totals $29,611 for every Auckland household – and that doesn't even include the effects of Phil Goff's "emergency budget" last year, or the more recently approved 10-year budget.”
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is condemning Auckland Council’s vote today to increase rates by 43% over the next decade. Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson Jo Holmes says:
March 29, 2021
“Once again, the Council has taken the easier option of digging deeper into ratepayers’ pockets instead of finding meaningful savings elsewhere.”
“Phil Goff claims this is a ‘recovery budget’ - but most of the extra money is going to the Council’s inflated operating expenses. The only ‘recovery’ will be of those who faint when they open their rates bill.”
“We commend the five Councillors who voted against the 5% increase to rates this year. It is a shame to see that, of the three C&R Councillors who are meant to stand for lower rates and better value for money, Cr Christine Fletcher was the only one to uphold her promise to voters.”
The Ratepayers’ Alliance is labelling the decision to spend $38,000 on a ratepayer-funded junket a slap in the face to Aucklanders whose rates are set to rise 5%.
Spokesperson Monique Poirier says “Auckland Council’s decision to send 16 representatives to the LGNZ conference, instead of four, and at a cost of $2,410 per head, epitomises the culture of waste at the Council.”
“Sending a delegation four times the required size is a shining example of the Mayor’s total inability to cut wasteful spending. The fact that he thinks sending less people would be seen as an ‘arrogant statement of disregard’ shows his blatant disrespect for ratepayers. Since when did the opinion of conference attendees matter more than that of the ratepayers he is accountable to?”
“Councillor Desley Simpson is bang on when she says that the Council has ‘absolutely gone over the line’ in the context of its $1 billion hole.”
“The Council should be focused on slashing wasteful spending, not splashing out on a social event in Blenheim disguised as a conference.”