The good news for the Labour Party is that their most right-wing MP could leave parliament after the local body elections next year.
The bad news for Auckland is that if Phil Goff wins the mayoralty the city will move further to the right to the benefit of big business while life will get tougher for families on low incomes.
Goff entered parliament as a Labour MP in 1981 and aside from a brief stint out (1990 to 1993) he has been an MP since.
He was the youngest cabinet minister in the 1984 Dave Lange/Roger Douglas government and changed from being a fiery left-winger (on a soapbox at least) to an apostle of the free market.
Goff’s parliamentary career from 1984 has been marked by blind adherence to neo-liberalism. Goff has championed such things as the sale of national assets; turning public services into profit-driven enterprises; contracting out public services (with lower pay and poorer working conditions for those providing the services); free trade (shifting New Zealand jobs overseas); maintaining cuts to benefits; reduction of health services; public funding for private, profit-driven education; tax cuts for the rich and tax increases for the poor.
He should be remembered particularly for his introduction of tertiary education fees (tertiary education was virtually free for NZ citizens before Goff) with all its associated hardship and introducing GST (Goods and Services Tax) which shifted taxation dramatically from the rich to the poor. (The poorest 10% of New Zealanders pay approx. 14% of their income on GST while the richest 10% pay less than 5% of their income on GST)
Goff was one of the Labour politicians chiefly responsible for 175,000 children remaining in poverty after nine years of Labour (1999 to 1008) in the best of economic times.
Goff has been a politician for the 1% while masquerading as a representative of ordinary New Zealanders.
Even the one bright spot from his launch speech today – he says he won’t sell Auckland City assets – has to be taken with a bucket of salt.
On many similar occasions (eg Roger Douglas in 1984 or Lianne Dalziel after election as Christchurch mayor in 2014) Labour politicians, after an election, have called for an independent audit of the books only to tell us – Shock! Horror! – things are much worse that we thought and asset sales are inevitable.
Goff has all the right-wing credentials the business and political elites need in an Auckland mayor.
I think he’s a shoo-in for mayor. Poor old Auckland.