No amount of spin can get over the fact that the centre-right campaign to control the Auckland Council has been a shambles.

Art this stage there are two credible centre-right candidates standing for Mayor; two separate centre right organisations are standing candidates, and some centre right candidates are standing as individuals.

Hardly the kind of cohesive block which influential National Party figures like Michelle Boag and Sue Wood and Ministers like Nicky Kaye and Paul Goldsmith last year were saying would meld the centre right into a cohesive, disciplined caucus on the Council.

Caught in the middle of all this is Mayoral candidate, Victoria Crone.

Though she is not running under the Boag/Kay Auckland Future banner, she is aligned with them.

She is new to politics, and she brings with her an impressive business CV as the former managing director of Xero, but whether she has the arm-twisting skills that the Mayor is going to need to straighten out the disunited Council is not so clear.

But at least she has a unique take on Auckland’s future.

In fact, what she does bring to the Mayoral race is an ability to think outside – sometimes, well outside — the square.

She demonstrated this with her first foray into politics when she was part of Labour’s Commission on the Future of Work and addressed its annual conference last year with a suggestion that smart watches would make it possible for managers to continually monitor their staff’s heart rates and so on while they worked.

Now she’s looking at Auckland’s biggest issue, its clogged roads and again she’s reaching out for technology to solve the problem.


“How do we look to the future? How do we get people remote working,” she asks.

And then answers “So just get them off the roads for one or two days a week – and other countries are very good at that compared to our remote working statistics — and then the next one is driverless vehciles.

“How do we look at driverless mini buses.

“In the next 20 years or so most of us will be in driverless cars. It will be quite a different set up to what we are doing now.”

Apart from this futurology she also ticks off the priority list for Auckland road construction and wants to see practical improvements like more parking at train stations and a closer relationship between what Auckland Transport does and what the Council wants it to do.

Her big campaign push though is to hold Auckland rates.

That, after all, is the core reason for the attempt to establish a centre-right block on the Council.

She wants to cap rates increases at two per cent.

“That’s only a reduction of revenue of $50 – $100 million over three years and I feel very comfortable that we can find that level of saving in terms of inefficient spending.”

She gives as examples the costs associated with the new Council building or the duplication by ATEED of many Government services.

But her’s is not a radical programme – rather a detailed line by line management of the Budget.

And she’s proposing to apply that same level of scrutiny to the Council Controlled Organisations like Auckland Transport and Watercare.

“That’s where the Councillors do have a fair amount of power because we set the funding,” she told POLITIK.

“By doing things like capping staff number and being more rigorous around funding, we will force the Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) to think more carefully about what they are doing.”

But her first target would be Auckland Transport.

“I have heard a lot of concerns expressed about AT.

“In the last month, it is phenomenal how much the public is dissatisfied with AT.

“It feels like they can do anything they like without any kind of retribution.

“I am picking up a hell of a lot of public angst against AT.”

On Auckland’s other intractable issue – housing  —  she offers an uncharacteristic political response.

“I find it really frustrating that the Council does not jump into the debate at a national level when it is being had,” she said.

“Last week when we had the National Policy Statement, the Council was nowhere to be seen regarding what the issues were.

“What it looks like to me is that everybody is finger-pointing.

“Until we can get a leader who can pull all of the parties together and sit down and say what are the real issues then we are actually going to agree on those issues and then we’re going to implement a plan to fix them and then we’re going to let you know how we’re going to implement that plan, people are going to keep going round in circles and not solve the actual problem,.”

She’s wouldn’t be willing to take no for an answer. She sees the housing issue as a classic supply chain issue; the house supply has not been able to keep up with demand and she accepts that one of the reasons for that is the inability of the construction industry to scale up to do the job.

She cites her experience at Xero which went from 50,000 customers in five years to adding another 50,000 in ten weeks.

“You don’t use the same systems and approach to doing that and that’s what we need to do with the supply chain; so how do we change the supply change to go from building five or six thousand a year to 13,000.”

It’s this practical experience from business which she offers as her biggest qualification to be Mayor.

So how would she deal with a Council made up of individuals with long-entrenched ideological positions?

“We don’t have to agree on everything.

“We have to have agreement over the financial foundations; that’s important.

“Then it is a matter of working hard to find the points of commonality to bring people together.”

But agreeing on those financial foundations may not be easy.

One of the few things all the centre right candidates agree on is that the Council needs to look at its balance sheet and see whether there are assets that can be sold or future assets that can be developed in partnership with the private sector.

“I know the private sector want to come to the table, and the Council hasn’t always been keen.”

She admits she isn’t a “sexy” politician ut rather she wants people to focus on what she wants to do which is to deliver a world-class city for Aucklanders.

She plans to lead that by first being a very open communicator setting out that to the city.

“I will stay engaged with Aucklanders, telling them what is working and importantly telling them what’s not working.

“My Council would have a very transparent and accountable approach to that.

“I bring a structure and process to what I do.”In many ways that is her core promise — that she will bring order to the Council that has clearly lacked it over the last six or so years and at the same time she is open to different – even wacky ideas.

In the end, though she will need to get the roads unclogged and the houses built.