$1 billion infrastructure fund not enough for Auckland - Phil Goff

Phil Goff on an election billboard (Dan Satherley)
Phil Goff on an election billboard (Dan Satherley)

Newly crowned Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has made it his mission to get more money out of the Government to deal with the city's growing pains.

Speaking to The Nation on Sunday, the veteran Labour MP said the existing $1 billion isn't enough for Auckland, let alone the whole country.

"It's $1 billion spread out over five growth centres - maybe Auckland will get half or two-thirds of that," said Mr Goff.

"What is the underfunding of infrastructure investment over 10 years? It's probably $17 billion to $20 billion. Now, I'm not going to get $17 billion from the Government, but I'm going to get a realistic sum that acknowledges the fact there's more growth in Auckland than the rest of New Zealand put together.

"If Auckland doesn't succeed, New Zealand can't succeed."

Auckland is expected to grow by about 700,000 people over the next 30 years, so will need more infrastructure and housing to cope.

Mr Goff wouldn't say just how much he'd be asking for, except that it would be "a negotiating figure between myself, I suspect, and the Minister of Finance".

Mr Goff is confident also he can get some concessions out of Minister of Transport Simon Bridges on a regional fuel tax to help fund new roads and public transport, as well as ease the congestion which Mr Goff says is costing the city about $3 billion a year.

"If it is a choice between putting the cost of infrastructure on rates or on a road pricing system, all of the logic, all of the equity, all of the common sense is saying you relate it to road usage, not simply to rates."

Mr Bridges has in the past ruled out a targeted fuel tax on Aucklanders, but has softened his tone in recent months. In June, as the second report on the Auckland Transport Alignment Project was released, he said "longer term road pricing or directly charging for road use" was perhaps inevitable.

"I believe the Government will see the logic and common sense of having a road pricing system," Mr Goff said on Sunday.

This will help him fulfil one of his key campaign promises - to keep rate rises below 2.5 percent.

"I don't want to keep putting infrastructure costs on rates."

Like many of his rivals, Mr Goff campaigned on making the council more efficient, saying it could "do more with less". To achieve this, he's hired David Wood, a former Treasury deputy secretary to comb through the council's finances.

"He's going to work together with the council bureaucracy to say, 'How can we do these things more efficiently?'" said Mr Goff.

"I don't want to hear back from council, 'We'll cut this service and we'll cut that service.' I want to hear how they'll do it more effectively than what we're doing at the moment."


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