Pippa Coom: A new government to deliver for Auckland

The dust is still settling following an historic election result. Congratulations to all the successful candidates and their hard-working campaign teams.

The final vote may not have been declared and the government yet to be formed (at time of writing) however, at council we are wasting no time preparing the briefing to the incoming government highlighting Auckland’s key challenges and the issues that need urgent attention. The briefing is traditionally fronted by the mayor in a series of meetings with ministers in Wellington as soon as the government is formed.

The challenges Auckland faced before COVID-19, investing to accommodate growth, sharing prosperity, and reducing environmental degradation, remain as important as ever but with the added difficulty of reduced income to meet them. The challenge of climate change is also becoming more urgent. The number of Aucklanders at risk has increased with COVID-19 and the task of meeting their needs has become more pressing.

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Auckland Council’s finances, we are redoubling efforts to keep up our capital expenditure programme to support jobs and the economic recovery. The scale and complexity of Auckland means our relationship with government is different from other local authorities. Effective partnership with government is essential to Auckland’s future. We have a rare opportunity to work with, what is very likely to be a fully aligned and supportive government, to really move forward on shared outcomes for Tamaki Makaurau.

I would like to see the new government accelerate the rapid transport network and the pathway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. We need plans for electric buses to be brought forward and urgent investment and incentives to decarbonise the transport system in order to have any chance of meeting our target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next 10 years. Housing is going to be a big focus area with council supporting further reform by government to improve access to high quality, affordable housing for Aucklanders.

During the lockdown, extensive support was offered to people who were homeless.This is currently funded until early 2021. Ensuring a path from emergency accommodation to stable, secure long-term housing with wrap-a-round services to deal with causes of homelessness, such as mental health and addiction, is critical. Auckland Council works closely with the Housing First organisations and is strongly supportive of government assistance to these groups.

There’s mounting public concern in Auckland about the destruction of significant mature and indigenous trees on private land, following changes in the last decade removing RMA protection of such trees. Council supports legislative change enabling councils to protect trees. This is just a snapshot of the briefing. There are many areas where council wishes to partner with government to deliver for Auckland to meet the challenges of the post COVID-19 world.

Chlöe Swarbrick has pulled off a stunning upset in taking a seat for the Greens. I’ve appreciated a positive working relationship with outgoing Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye covering our shared constituents that I’m sure will continue with the changing of the guard. Chlöe is well aware of the electorate’s concerns regarding homelessness, green spaces, transportation and inequality. Action on restoring the Hauraki Gulf is another issue. It’s clear we have many shared priorities that I’m looking forward to working together on. (PIPPA COOM)

Contact Pippa Coom via pippa.coom@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

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