After The Standard broke the story eight days ago (and got most of the details right), the news of a new National Party-backed Auckland Council ticket, Future Auckland, basically became official today with reports from Todd Niall on Radio New Zealand and Bernard Orsman in the Herald. And the most interesting part is who's not in the tent.
Most notably, C&R – the former Citizens and Ratepayers, quietly rebranded as Communities and Residents – has not been consulted on the project. Orsman reports:
C&R president Karen Sherry, when asked if C&R could merge with Auckland Future, said "that's a discussion that needs to be had" but added "sometimes competition can be healthy".
If Future Auckland aims to heal the bitter divides in the Auckland centre-right, that's not a particularly good start. And the fact that Bill Ralston – named by The Standard as a likely starter – has chosen to stand as an independent candidate isn't a great omen either. It's not hard to see why the new ticket, reportedly driven by Nikki Kaye, unofficial leader of National's sensible faction, wouldn't want a bar of Dick Quax, but you'd think they might have got Christine Fletcher on board.
Niall told Guyon Espiner this morning that Kaye, Michelle Boag and others were frustrated that there is "not a coherent left-right divide that you see in central government" and that councillors vote on issues. He noted that that may in fact be the way that many Auckland local body voters like it. And so they damn well should. The absence of party whipping is a strength of the Super City.
The strangest part of Orsman's story is his list of "supporters" and "critics" of Mayor Len Brown at the end. I'm presuming the list comes largely out of Orsman's odd personal vendetta against Brown, because it would be pretty dumb for a new grouping to define itself in opposition to a mayor who might well not even stand again.
Meanwhile, while you've been watching the Rugby World Cup, the local body election everyone forgot has been going on. As of Monday, only 7.3% of eligible voters had returned voting papers in Auckland Energy Consumer Trust (AECT) election – compared with 13.25% at the same time in the last election.
The only ticket to have entered my consciousness is City Vision, whose slate includes occasional Public Address guest Kirk Serpes, who I'm very pleased to see seeking election. Their principles are a future-proofed network (that is, one that accommodates home solar, Tesla batteries and the like), community ownership and keeping down the price of power. C&R's hoardings all seem to be about the dividend, but they are also touting undergrounding of powerlines and improvement of the infrastructure.
Thing is, votes close at 5pm on Friday, so today is about the last day you can get a vote in the post. Anyone with information on hand-delivery, please let us know in the comments.