Celia gets an early reality check

The cheering for the new mayor has barely died down and the post mortems on the old mayor haven't even begun, and reality is already banging Celia Wade Brown's head on the ground.

The reality check comes from the government's reaction to the aspiration of Auckland's new Mayor Len Brown for "a central-city rail loop, a link to the airport and a line over a new harbour crossing to the North Shore, all over five to 15 years" according to the NZ Herald.

Under the headline "Tightfisted Key deals blow to Brown's rail plan, Key is quoted as saying " ratepayers would have to pay for Mr Brown's plans to fast-track rail.

The PM said the Government shared the goal of an efficient transport system for Auckland, but "not all roads, or all rail tracks, can lead to the Government".

In short; forget it pal. The government will pass out oodles of cash for highways under its roads of national significance policy, but you can't have both. National is already spending $5 billion on transport in Auckland including $1.6 billion on rail.

So Celia take note: light rail may be a good idea for the inner city, but the government funding is available for a Ngaraunga to the airport motorway which will benefit the whole region, and help traders and exporters.

You may argue the government's priorities are wrong, but you didn't win that election.

In the election saying the words 'light rail' produced a trance like state in many voters who responded with a mental genuflect.

Questions like where will light rail go, how much will it cost and who will pay for it were not addressed, but answering them and convincing central government to even contemplate the idea will be an early test of Celia's administration.

Reportedly she is actively discussing the allocation of jobs and wants to be 'inclusive' and give all councillors a job according to their abilities. Good.

On my count she has a core of about six votes on her side. A good deal will depend on how the Labour group votes - Eagle, Gill and perhaps one other closet Labour follower. If all three sign up to the green/left agenda, then Celia has a working majority: herself, Foster, Pannett, Pepperell, Ritchie, Cook and the Labour group, versus McKinnon, Morrison, Coughlan, Best, Aphene-Mercer, Lester and Marsh, though the latter three are more centrist than the rest. The political balance is not yet settled.  It will be a finely balanced council.

As for Kerry, she was defeated not just by an STV system where she was the second choice of very few, by also by a lacklustre campaign which gave no one positive reasons to vote for her. "It's now up to you" is a very weak and unmotivating call to action.  On the other hand Celia's material was warm and positive, and she did what other anti Kerry candidates have not been able to do in the past, that is to get all the anti Kerry first and second preferences going in her direction.