‘Missile of misinformation’: Leo Molloy responds to advertisement criticising policy costings


Auckland mayoral candidate Leo Molloy. Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland mayoral candidate Leo Molloy has called an advertisement criticising some of his policies a “missile of misinformation”.

Molloy said he is disappointed with the full-page advertisement in today’s Herald on Sunday headed ‘Molloy = Unaffordable’ taken out by the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance (ARA).

The lobby group took aim at Molloy’s policy for one year of free ratepayer-funded public transport and his plans for a $3 billion stadium, “aquarium” and cultural centre.

To pay for free public transport, the ARA believed, “means cancelling $1.5 billion of transport projects”.

The Auckland Ratepayers' Allliance has criticised mayoral candidates Efeso Collins and Leo Molloy of using the regional fuel tax to pay for free public transport. Photo / File
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Allliance has criticised mayoral candidates Efeso Collins and Leo Molloy of using the regional fuel tax to pay for free public transport. Photo / File

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesman Josh Van Veen said the group believed its figures are accurate but acknowledge a typo in the advertisement that referred to an ‘aquarium’ rather than ‘aquatic centre’.

“We apologise for that and will make a formal retraction,” he said.

ARA believed $1.5b was the value of projects funded by the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT) that Van Veen claimed would be in jeopardy under a Molloy administration that cancelled the RFT – assuming he could persuade central government – and use unspent revenue to pay for “free” public transport.

The RFT of 11.5 cents a litre was introduced in 2018. It is expected to raise $1.5b over 10 years and, with subsidies, leverage $4.2b of transport projects. Only about half of the money raised by the tax so far has been spent.

Molloy said he is disappointed the advertisement does not appear to explain his accurate and correct position, saying it used snippets of information to create misinformation.

He said he was trying to interpret what some parts of the advertisement mean, such as a cross alongside the words “fiscal responsibility”.

“Does that mean I’m not fiscally responsible? If I’m not, which part of my policy does that allude to?”

Molloy said he did not know how the ARA had arrived at the cancellation of $1.5b of transport projects.

“In the Wish List, I have never said ‘free ratepayer-funded public transport’.” I have said I will use the regional fuel tax and in the second year you will wrap in a congestion charge, which has cross-party support. There is no cost to the ratepayer there.

“It’s like a missile of misinformation,” Molloy said.

The Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance has also taken out advertisements attacking mayoral candidate Efeso Collins. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance has also taken out advertisements attacking mayoral candidate Efeso Collins. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Today’s advertisement follows two other advertisements from the ARA attacking the policies of Manukau councillor, Efeso Collins, who has been endorsed by Labour and the Greens.

The first advertisement in Friday’s Herald accused him of “defunding” roads to pay for free public transport.

In an advertisement in yesterday’s Weekend Herald, the ARA accused Collins of wanting to bring back the $785m walking and cycling bridge over the Waitemata Harbour, which the Government abandoned last year after fierce public opposition.

The ARA based this on a comment Collins made at the Auckland University Debating Society mayoral debate last Tuesday.

Today, a spokesman for Collins said the Manukau councillor has never advocated for, and does not support, a return of the $785m bridge policy.

“At the debate at the University of Auckland this week he referred to his support for the far cheaper model of a separate path on the bridge for cyclists and walkers.”

Collins said public debate around this election needs to be conducted on a foundation of honesty and integrity, and all taking part – including newspapers and lobbyists – have a responsibility to maintain that foundation.

Van Veen said the ARA may run advertisements against other mayoral candidates, but no decisions have been made yet.

“We focused on Collins and Molloy because they are the two leading contenders,” he said.

Van Veen said the ARA has never endorsed an Auckland mayoral candidate and is unlikely to at the 2022 local body elections on October 8.



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