Prime Minister John Key says he would be happy to work with Phil Goff as Auckland Mayor, should the veteran Labour MP throw his hat in the ring and win.
With the polls looking dire for incumbent left-leaning Mayor Len Brown, longtime Mt Roskill MP Mr Goff is seen by many as his natural successor. Last week he said on TV3's Paul Henry programme there was a "better than average" chance he'd run for the top job at next year's local body elections – but he hasn't decided just yet.
"I want to spend the next six months or so thinking about the issues that are affecting Auckland," he said last week. "I want to think about what difference I could make if I were to run for Mayor."
This morning on the same show Mr Key didn't give Mr Goff his endorsement, but had praise for his former Prime Ministerial opponent's skills and experience.
"It was quite a combative relationship when he was leader of the Opposition. There's no question he has a great work rate and was a very effective minister – no arguments about that."
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As for their personal relationship, Mr Key said it didn't matter whether he and Mr Goff liked each other or not.
"I don't mind the guy."
Mr Goff dodged the question of whether he personally liked Mr Key, saying it was "not about liking people; it's about being able to work professionally".
Mr Key says he won't be giving any candidates his official endorsement, but may work behind the scenes to give whoever is standing on the right a fighting chance.
"Last time I went to a few fundraisers for John Banks – so privately I'll do some things where there are people around, and people could have worked it out. But we won't actually ultimately go out and say 'it's this candidate' or 'that candidate'."
source: newshub archive