Boag: Gattung the one to take on Goff

Theresa Gattung (Reuters)
Theresa Gattung (Reuters)

Of all the rumoured candidates for the next Auckland mayoralty, Michelle Boag is picking Theresa Gattung as the right-wing's best bet to take on Phil Goff.

Appearing on the Paul Henry programme this morning, the former National Party president said Auckland Council has two major problems that need fixing.

"One is having absolutely no regard for spending other people's money, and thinking that a 9 percent rates increase is acceptable – and that goes not only for the Mayor, but for the councillors.

"The other real problem for the city, especially when they tell us this is going to be the world's most liveable city, is this city is controlled by a rampant bunch of can't-do wowsers."

Mr Goff, current MP for Mt Roskill and a former leader of the Labour Party, is seen as the left's best hope of retaining the mayoralty. Ms Boag says current Mayor Len Brown has lost almost his entire support team to Mr Goff, despite the fact he's yet to confirm if he'll run or not.

"I think that all of these potential candidates have to be… electable, and Phil probably is – as long as no one strong stands against him."

Mr Brown's second term as Mayor has been tarnished by revelations he had an extra-marital affair and heavy criticism from right-leaning lobby groups over ballooning rates in parts of Auckland experiencing rapid house value inflation.

Ms Gattung hasn't commented on rumours she is mulling a run for Auckland's top job, but if she does, she probably has Ms Boag's vote.

"I think the city does need a business leader who understands how to address those two major problems: overspending and the cultural issue within the council. I think someone who's very strong, who has actually dealt with those issues before, would be a much better shot than a failed politician."

So will it be Mr Goff, who's been an MP since the early 1980s, versus Ms Gattung, best-known for running Telecom for eight years? Ms Boag says it might not be that cut-and-dried, because she expects Mr Brown to run again.

And if Mr Brown doesn't, his deputy Penny Hulse might – though if Mr Goff enters the race, she probably won't.

"I don't think she will – not against Phil Goff," says Ms Boag. "I mean, if she stands, and Len stands, the left will just be split."

On the right, MP Maurice Williamson, Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, former Mayor John Banks and ex-Conservative Party leader Colin Craig have all not ruled out having a go.

According to Ms Boag, Mr Williamson "won't win" and Mr Barnett "is a good man, but I'm not sure that he could win against Phil Goff". She hopes Mr Banks doesn't bother to run, and says no one will believe a word Mr Craig says.

The next mayoral election is more than a year away.

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