Phil Goff pledges to change perception of Auckland Council

Newly elected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (Getty)
Newly elected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (Getty)

Newly elected Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says he's not going to reinvent himself, but there are changes coming to Auckland Council.

"The Mayor's office will change almost completely. It is a fresh start," Mr Goff told Paul Henry.

"I'll have fewer staff, some of them will be very well-paid because I need the best people. My office has to be the balance to the council bureaucracy.

"When I talked about a 3 percent efficiency gain across council, it'll start in my office. You've got to lead by example. It'll start with the nature of the car I drive, it'll start with the nature of the staff I take on," he says.

Mr Goff says there's a lot of work to be done to deal with the city's growth, and while he's not expecting the Government to suddenly stump up with a whole lot of money, they do need to work together.

"There are big changes we have to make, we have to do it in partnership with the Government. I'm looking forward to that partnership."

Prime Minister John Key has congratulated Mr Goff, but won't say how much extra money his Government will allocate to New Zealand's biggest city.

Mr Goff wants more Government funding to match Auckland's exploding growth rate, but John Key told Paul Henry there are plenty of other options besides tapping the Beehive for extra cash.

"We're happy to give Auckland money," he says. "We do that in quite large amounts as you're probably aware, which includes half of the CRL [City Rail Link], something his predecessor wanted, and a host of huge projects up there, including roading projects like Waterview.

"In the end Auckland also has to meet its own contribution.

"It's not always simply a matter of turning the guns on central Government and saying 'give us more' because people around the country also want more, rightfully so, for their one-lane bridges or their roading development or other housing developments, whatever it might be."

Mr Goff says he's been inspired by the way former Air New Zealand bosses Rob Fyfe and Norm Thompson revive the company, and hopes he can do the same with Auckland Council.

"I've been in talks with Rob Fyfe and Norm Thompson, formally of Air New Zealand. I've watched those guys turn that company around from a bankrupt company to one that we would regard as one of the best airlines in the world.

"Rob Fyfe has said he's happy to come in, work alongside my chief executive to say 'how can we change the image, how can we change the culture of the council,' so it is a can-do council, so it is seen as responsive to its client group."

On Monday morning Mr Goff is meeting Auckland Council's chief executive Stephen Town and the leadership team. He says his message is that they have to work together to change the perception and effectiveness of council.

"I've got to put a budget together in the next seven or eight weeks and that's a budget that's got to find efficiencies, make savings," he says.

"What we have to have is a council that's not an obstructive council but an enabling council."