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'Just answer a question': Goff, Tamihere square off in NZME debate

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 21 August 2019, 6:46PM

John Tamihere accused Phil Goff of introducing four of the eight taxes on Aucklanders' rates bills in another fiery debate tonight between the two main contenders in the mayoral race.

Tamihere pulled out his rates bill during the Herald-Newstalk ZB debate and invited Aucklanders to look at their own bills where four taxes had been brought in by Goff since 2016.

The financial credibility of the two candidates was the big issue on show tonight, with Tamihere accusing Goff of maxing out on the ATM machine and introducing "stealth taxes".

"The problem we have got in this city is the citizens are being gouged out by this guy who only knows how to tax and spend," he said.

Goff repeatedly accused Tamihere of coming up with policies he knows he cannot deliver.

"Everything John says is factually incorrect. He makes it up as he goes along," he said.

Goff said Tamihere had not delivered as a Cabinet minister, nor when he was on the council as a member of the Independent Maori Statutory Board.

John Tamihere: "You have got a dicky heart," Phil Goff: "At least I have got a heart."

The debate took place hours after Tamihere released his full transport policy, which included dumping the city's regional fuel tax, prioritising road and rail projects, kickstarting a mega harbour crossing, and sacking the board of Auckland Transport.

Among his promises are to reinstate two councillors on the board of Auckland Transport, saying Goff had sacked councillors Mike Lee and Christine Fletcher from the board and appointed former Labour Minister Michael Cullen "from down the line somewhere". Cullen lives in the Bay of Plenty.

Tamihere would not give anything away about his rates policy, due to be announced next week, nor did he promise to repeal any of the taxes on rates bills.

What he did say was he was going to be a "champion for Auckland, not a puppet for Wellington" and get central Government to fund the money from the regional petrol tax and things like the mega harbour bridge.

"He [Goff] wouldn't have the guts to front them because he is one of them," Tamihere said.

Goff said even if there was a National Party in government they would tell Tamihere to "sod off", saying as mayor he had got an extra $9 billion from central Government for the city's 10-year transport programme.

To a question from a member of the public about where the money from the regional petrol tax had gone, Goff reeled off a list of projects in line for the money, including the $1.4b Eastern Busway, safety measures and two roading projects where construction is still to begin - Penlink and Mill Rd.

Goff was on shakier ground when asked what group of Aucklanders support light rail, or modern trams, from the CBD to Auckland Airport, saying it had overwhelming support from the people of Mt Roskill who will be able to get to the city faster.

Asked which cities Auckland should emulate, Goff picked out Vancouver, Portland and parts of Melbourne and Brisbane. Tamihere chose Melbourne.

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