With the local government elections in October, we have an opportunity to elect a new Mayor with a fresh vision who will be an inspirational leader for the Council and Local Boards. Personally, I am very enthusiastic about Auckland Future, the new centre-right political force that’s just been launched and their fiscally responsible pledges to keep rates low, cut waste, reduce staff costs and get debt under control.

Frankly it’s a relief to finally have a local government brand that Auckland voters can clearly identify as being of the centre-right and candidates who are united on the important fundamental issues. From what I’ve heard from my North Shore constituents, I think those of us who are fiscally conservative would welcome more accountability for ratepayers and I agree with the centre-right Mayoral candidate Vic Crone that the council needs to cut back its own spending and focus on delivering core services and better value for money for ratepayers. If we want to live in world-class city we need to invest now in critical infrastructure in a coordinated way.

We are going to miss Local Board member Diane Hale who has been an outstanding representative for the North Shore for more than 30 years. Talking with Local Board chair Joe Bergin, neither of us can recall an important development over the past 30 years that hasn’t been positively influenced by Diane. I’d like to personally thank this much admired Devonportian for all she’s done for the North Shore and for her unfailing good judgement. We wish her all the very best for her future endeavours – it’s hard to imagine someone so energetic and enthusiastic actually “retiring”.  We need more people of Diane’s calibre to step forward to be local representatives and it’s encouraging to see someone of the energy and experience of

Fay Freeman, who is the first candidate to be selected for Auckland Future and I will certainly be supporting her.

I’m pleased to see that my Members Bill, which was drawn from the Ballot two years ago, will be passed into law in time for the candidate nominations in the October elections. The Local Government amendment Bill is all about fairness and closes a loophole in the law to prevent people from sitting on more than one Auckland local board at the same time to stop the potential for conflicts of interest and “double-dipping”. Since becoming a Minister I handed over the bill to my colleague Alfred Ngaro who’s doing an excellent job of shepherding it through the legislative process where it’s received almost universal political support.

Farewell and best wishes to Takapuna Grammar’s principal, Simon Lamb who’s leaving after more than 12 years to become Headmaster at Kings College. He has ushered in some significant changes at Grammar and it has been a pleasure to work with him in my role as local North Shore MP and to collaborate with him on his final legacy in securing the $26 million funding for weather and earthquake strengthening to future-proof this fine college for future generations.

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