Saturday, 13 October 2007

Auckland dicks Dick; NZ steers right

The Cereal King's reign at the helm of New Zealand's highest profile city has ended, with Dick Hubbard being well beaten by the man he deposed at the last election... John Banks.

Former mayor Banksie has promised an all-new gentler style this time around, including consultation with ratepayers and new policies.

Hubbard was upstaged early on in his term by grumpy Deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker, and was forced to work with the big spending City Vision/Labour team, and the opportunistic Action Hobson councillors, who together achieved massive rates increases and spent big on overseas junkets.

In Christchurch, former Mayor of Banks Peninsula (and TV host) Bob Parker has scored a solid victory over the left's candidate Megan Woods, with another TV personality Jo Giles (CTV) in a creditable third place. Woods' left-wing grouping Christchurch 2021 also failed in their bid to regain dominance of the city council, with just two successful candidates.

STV voting again meant very slow counting at HQ for Wellington and Dunedin elections. In Dunedin, Mayor Peter Chin comfortably retained his job ahead of nearest rival, outspoken former councillor Lee Vandervis.

Two main groupings tried to bring back party politics this election - Greater Dunedin and Open Democracy. The latter was headed by the high profile Lee Vandervis, but the group failed to get anyone onto council, with even Vandervis losing his seat by just 4 votes (after special votes were counted) to longtime Greenie campaigner Fliss Butcher).

The Allied Press/ODT-funded ticket Greater Dunedin meanwhile succeeded in winning three council seats, including TV personality Dave Cull.
The proposed new "Carisbrook" stadium was billed as one of the big election issues in Dunedin, but unfortunately there really weren't any strong candidates willing to campaign on the bold idea of cutting council spending, and offering residents a lower rates bill.

(I see the North Shore has a new Mayor in Andrew Williams, who scored an upset win over George Wood after campaigning under the banner of "Don't Waste the Rates".

Williams claims to be against "wasteful council spending, red tape and bureaucracy, mounting council debt, and ballooning council staff numbers and consultants". We need a few more of these types of candidates!)

As Kiwiblog's David Farrar notes, that leaves New Zealand's five main centres in the hands of Centre/Centre-Right Mayors.

Congratulations also to former ACT MP Penny Webster, who is the new Mayor of Rodney... while another former ACT MP, Gerrard Eckhoff, picks up a spot on the Otago Regional Council. And I guess the opposite is due to sitting Labour MP Di Yates, who failed to even pick up a council seat in Hamilton East ;-)

* NZ Herald: Banks ousts Hubbard

* Dom Post: Local election results summary

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