The Chamber of Commerce's Michael Barnett stated: “What the Mayor is saying is that he will fix inefficiencies that should have been addressed long ago and use the savings to increase the pay of a favoured few – its [sic] populist politics...” Observe how those on the lowest wages are described as "the favoured few" without so much as a blush. The word populist is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people." Yet used here it becomes a term to belittle anything that challenges the prevailing pro-business, economic ideology promoted by organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
Singing a different version of the same song was the Employers and Manufacturers Association's Kim Campbell who blustered on Radio New Zealand that the Council needed to find "substantial efficiencies and reduce staff numbers" if it was even going to contemplate paying some workers more money. It is another odd use of language that a noun meaning something has the quality or property of being efficient is now, apparently, an actual thing you can find under the desk just by looking hard enough.
The living wage is not a perfect solution to low income (for example, it doesn't address the meagre incomes of the underemployed or unemployed) but it is an understandable response to working poverty and our growing income gap. The Mayor's move is more symbolic than meaningful, and the response from Auckland's real big spenders is equally lacking in substance.