Whaleoil is a liar says former Labour Leader and possible Auckland Mayoral candidate, Phil Goff.

“And that’s on the record,” he added.

He was responding to claims in the Whaleoil blog that he was ready to do a deal with the National Party whereby the party would not back any candidate for Mayor but in turn the wife of the party president, Desley Simpson, would become the deputy mayor.

Sources within Auckland Future, the National Party backed group trying to gain control of the Council for the centre-right also dismissed the claims.

But POLITIK is aware that some people within National — including one Auckland MP – have openly speculated whether it mightn’t be better to not stand in Mr Goff’s way if he stood for Mayor.

However when specifically asked if he had done a deal he responded with the claim that Whaleoil was lying.

“It’s not true, “he said.

“He lies repeatedly when it comes to me and it’s time that it stopped.”

Mr Goff says he will make a final decision on whether to stand for the Mayoralty by the end of next month – but he sounds very much like a man who has already made that decision to stand.

The problem he faces is that sitting centre-left mayor Len Brown has still not indicated that he won’t stand.

Advertisment

But he’s making a virtue of that by running (if he does run) as an independent.

And it also gives him an opportunity to distance himself from any candidate that Auckland Future might find to run for Mayor.

“I think it would be a mistake to run on a partisan basis,” he said.

Nevertheless there will be a policy difference between Mr Goff and Auckland Future.

He wants to prioritise transport, affordable housing and governance.

Whilst Auckland Future have yet to draw up their manifesto, discussions with some of their key players indicate rates will be a major priority for them.

They will also be much more open to privatisation and public private partnerships than Mr Goff who can hardly support privatisations having run so ardently against them as Labour leader in the 2011 election campaign.

However he’s not going to try and hide his Labour past.

“People know who I am,” he said.

He is pitching himself very much as the consensus candidate who can bring the Council together and thus present a united front to the Government over issues such as transport funding.

Nevertheless the fact that Mr Goff is a Labour MP and Auckland Future is simply another name for National means that the election will be fought along partisan lines.

One Auckland Future source said the fact that because he was a sitting Labour MP, that was a big reason why Auckland Future would not be willing to allow him a free run to the Mayoralty.

Whilst Mr Goff is a politician nearing the end of his career, two of the key players in Auckland Future, Nicky Kaye and Paul Goldsmith are young politicians nearer the beginnings of their careers.

If they can make a big impact – and win control of the Council for the centre right – then that in turn would be likely to reverberate through the National Party as a whole.

Along with the much more co-ordinated lobbying that Local Government New Zealand is doing,  the National Infrastructure Plan and the desire by Environment Minister Nick Smith to overhaul district planning processes, local government is becoming a major focus for Wellington.

And because the Auckland Council region accounts for a third of the country’s gdp, the Auckland Mayoralty is fast taking on a major importance.

That’s why the politicking has started and that’s why the big names are becoming involved.