Good news for Labour – bad news for Auckland



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.

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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.


  1. Agreed John!
    Poor old Auckland. But do they care. The right wingers are making sure we are drowning in “Bread & Circus’s” Ophs! No bread, only a circus

  2. Ever since his dorky glasses and bad moustache days, Goff has been a complete non-event as an MP. He’s like an old bit of seaweed being washed in and out by the tide. If he wins the election and actually becomes mayor, I doubt very much if anyone will notice.

  3. Don’t forget the way Goff shafted Peter Ellis when he became justice minister under Clark.

    Promised him a Royal Commission while in opposition but delivered a dodgy ministerial inquiry, done on the cheap:

    Then stuck his hands in his ears when half the country wouldn’t buy the result, all the while neglecting to disclose close connections to the prosecution case held by an employee of the Dept of Prime Minister and cabinet and by various MPs, including cabinet ministers.

    A thoroughly untrustworthy career politician.

  4. I agree completely that Goff is a right-winger and as you know I’m a Labour member. Wonder how much of this move is about being pushed out as Mt Roskill MP for Michael Wood to step in.

  5. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. If the right-wing Phil Goff is as left as the left can conjure up then we’re screwed. Len was bad enough but I think his Sth Ak constituency kept him from caving in completely to vested interests. With 30 years of poverty creation under his belt, it’s hard to imagine Phil will even try.

  6. Very well researched John. I didn’t know the guys background and what he has achieved over his term in Parliament. Looks like he’s dug a hole for normal New Zealanders. This is why we need to run away from the Past of colonialism & the crown and stand on our own two feet. Republic. My friends in Sinn Fein Ireland want to see a united Ireland.
    We can learn from those guys.
    All the best
    Warwick Marshall

  7. Yes, I agree with much that John writes here, the sad reality is, with the endless brainwashing that goes on via a complicit and largely government friendly mainstream media (just “loving” good old mate John Key), and with the ones voting being mostly property owning, book rich middle class, no truly progressive candidate will have a shit chance of winning a vote for Mayor of Auckland.

    So we will again get the many soundings, that he is not that bad, he is “there for all of Aucklanders”, that he is “honest” and has a “good track record”, and that he is “the lesser evil”.

    As I see it, he is just a continuum of what we have, a “safe pair of hands” for upholding the status quo that Len the “itchy” man held up for the Committee for Auckland and for vested interest groups. And yes, when the finances may look a bit stressed, Phil will have no problems to change his mind on selling “just a few” assets Aucklanders still own.

    Only if a massive mobilisation of the underdog could be achieved, would there any chance of a change of direction in Auckland. But you can bet on it, the vested interests with their ample money and powerful mercenaries and lobbyists will ensure that no funds will be made available for such a contender to arise, representing the so far powerless and side-lined (e. g. many renters and low income earners in much of South Auckland, parts of the West and in patches on the Shore.

  8. Bloody Auckland again…

    Still, if you turkeys up there vote this dickhead in I can’t really throw shit at you; we voted in Lianne fucking Dalziel…

    Momma Thatcher risen from the grave…

    The more I see of this unimaginative crap being served up endlessly with no electoral way out of it, the more I start to sympathise with revolutionary overthrow through force…

    • Mama thatcher from the grave indeed.

      I do wish these neoliberal stooges would just have the decency to retire instead of sucking at the public teet.

      There needs to be some sort of bloody time limit or warranr of fitnesd on politicians careers

      Local politics isnt a retirement home for failed mps!

  9. Sadly the track record of the Left talking “pragmatism” actually means deception. At least you know the Right are lying when they speak of democracy, because an empowered electorate is the antithesis of their beliefs. But the Left spin people empowerment in the belief that being in power is more important than executing power on behalf. Lenin did it in the most banal way, delivering Stalin as a logical successor. And so on. New Labour in the UK did exactly the same, in a sleight of thought learned from the Douglas Labour Party here. Anything Labour has done since 1984 has been, and continues to be, in the service of corporate power. Until they break from their electoral “pragmatism” and show respect for their electorate by acting in their interests, the non-vote will continue to grow and labour will continue to be the jaunty party: good for an occasional adventure when the landed classes tire of touring the world.

  10. Who does everyone recommend to vote for?

    There does not seem to be any left candidates? I would vote for John Minto if you run.

    Even Cunliffe rather than Goff would be better for Auckland, but my fear is, that there are even worse candidate and more right wing than Phil Goff who might get in.

    Although I don’t rate Goff, I feel I might have to vote for him just to stop a more evil candidate getting in.

    Auckland may be screwed. Help please!

    Even if you don’t live in Auckland, the blueprint is coming to a council near you so any advice please!

    • ‘Even if you don’t live in Auckland, the blueprint is coming to a council near you’

      Your warning comes too late. Betrayal was delivered immediately after the last election by Andrew Judas.

  11. On Scoop today I read Collin Campbell’s latest column wondering why the centre-right can’t seem to find a credible opponent for Goff. I suggest that it is because they don’t need to – Goff is centre-right enough for National supporters. He is standing as an independent, not a Labour candidate and that shows either a degree of honesty or a wish to purge himself of any Labour connections, I am not sure which. Goff has a lot of political knowledge and experience and will probably make a competent enough mayor – but he is not left of centre so the left will either have to swallow their pride and vote for him or put up their own candidate.

  12. Maybe a proper right winger would be good for a while, the left sure has no intention of reigning in the ungodly amount of money the council spends and currently owes.

    • It is the right wingers who are worse at money management! Look at the record 7 budget deficits in a row from the Natz.

      Banks selling off all the council houses in the 90’s.

      The council is run by a CEO who is right!
      The councillors always vote right on every practically every decision!
      They just voted on oil exploration off the west coast for petes sake – that is not a ‘left’ wing council.
      They allow Ports of Auckland to give the finger to the public and then fund their legal costs to defend their stupid decision.

      Len is as left as Goff is Left. NOT left.

      That is the problem with NZ the right are now considered left due to tactical ‘branding’ as a confusion strategy.

  13. Phil Goff will obviously be promoting the City’s Asset Sales and the likes of Fay Richwhite and Michelle Boag’s cronies will be licking their lips with anticipation.

  14. Goff is a neo liberal Roger Douglas fan right up John Keys alley, just watch our assets disappear offshore for chickenfeed like the BNZ, Telecom, the Rural Bank etc etc etc

  15. Spot on, John. I have no idea how anyone can see Goff as left, progressive, or honest. If he were honest he would have joined ACT with Douglas and Prebble.

  16. Yeah, stand, John.
    If you don’t make 5% maybe all your credulous, half-informed enthusiasts (above) will see that to effect change, they have to support a party with a realistic chance of making that change happen.
    I don’t dispute that Phil Goff, as a very junior and inexperienced member of the Lange administration, found himself on the wrong side of history on a number of issues. (Although unless I am much mistaken, as Housing Minister he also attempted to scatter state houses into the wealthier suburbs, a policy that we could have paid more attention to). However, he was not alone. Until it became clear that there was very little up-side to the sweeping reforms of that administration, many otherwise impeccably-credentialed reformers allowed themselves to be convinced, not least because it appeared to be one in the eye for the controlling Muldoon. Would all you posters have seen through it from the beginning?

    It isn’t your mistakes, it is whether you are able to learn from them.

    Has Goff learned? Maybe. Have you? Or will people like you, John, of transformative inclination, forever settle for hurling Molotov cocktail out of the cold into the tent.

  17. “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.” <- I'm moderately certain that was supposed to be 1999 to 2008

    as for the rest, well, nothing further to say really

  18. Come on – give us just one good reason why you have chosen to not include my TWO comments submitted here ?

    Some of our friends have stopped coming to TDB and I am beginning to see why. I wonder how many other comments you have denied for your very personal and biased reasons. Shame Shame –
    This rings of ==>>> Biased Journalism and than what TDB does is refer those to start their own blog sites showing rudeness and arrogance.

    • How telling indeed yet again. You put up this above comment of mine and leave out the other two which were well thought out ; took time to write and were pretty good contributions. Who is monitoring these comments and why keep out the comments that are worthy of publishing? You had no reason to deny those other two comments.
      It feels like you are actually trying to reduce your readership here and show a lack of support and respect for writers gifts and contributions.
      Maybe that’s what you want – Blake to leave.

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