When “user-pays” water charges were proposed for Auckland back in the day, their biggest cheerleader was Labour MP Phil Goff.
Goff used the clever, cynical argument that people on low incomes should not have to subsidise filling swimming pools in Remuera. It sounded plausible but Goff knew it would result in shifting the balance of council costs away from the rich and onto tenants and families on the lowest incomes.
It’s has been the same with the rest of Goff’s political career. This is the same person who had previously, as part of the Lange/Douglas government, championed the introduction of GST and forcing students borrowing to pay tertiary education fees previously paid by the community as a whole.
He has worked hard for the wealthy throughout his political career.
And he’s still at it.
In the last few days Auckland Council has not only decided on large rate increases (5% now and an average 3.5% per year into the future) but even bigger water charges which will more than double the cost of water over the next 10 years.
And it is those on the lowest incomes, who already pay a much higher proportion of their incomes in rates and council charges than anyone else, who will shoulder the heaviest burden.
Goff will say that people who face genuine hardship can apply to a piddling pool of money if they really can’t pay their water bills but we all know that’s just a political veneer covering an ugly reality.
As Labour MP, and now as Auckland mayor, Goff has had his hands around the throats of our lowest-income citizens, slowly choking the life out of them. He’s still squeezing.
If you feel some sympathy for Phil Goff, don’t bother, he has a knighthood coming.