Former N.Z. Foreign Minister Phil Goff Elected Mayor of Auckland

Former New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff was elected mayor of Auckland, the nation’s largest city, after pledging to lobby for a regional fuel tax that has put him at odds with Prime Minister John Key.

Goff was declared the winner with 179,206 votes or 47.6 percent of those counted 90 minutes after voting closed, the council said in a statement Saturday. His nearest rival, former Xero Ltd. managing director Victoria Crone, received 105,423 votes.

Goff promised more spending on roads and a light-rail network to remove traffic gridlocks and bolster the economy in Auckland, which is home to a third of New Zealand’s 4.5 million people. 

He rejected increasing land taxes or selling assets such as a stake in Auckland International Airport Ltd. to fund the growth. Instead, he wants central government to impose a regional fuel tax and direct that income into Auckland projects. Key said in August that is unlikely.

Goff, 63, entered parliament representing the Labour Party in 1981 and is currently opposition defense spokesman. He was a minister from 1984 to 1990, and again in 1999 to 2008 when he variously held the foreign affairs, trade, justice and defense portfolios.

Goff’s election as mayor will require him to retire from parliament, triggering a by-election in the Auckland electorate of Mt Roskill, which he held for Labour with an 8,000 vote majority in 2014.

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