web analytics

How to approach Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 pm, April 4th, 2009 - 12 comments
Categories: local government - Tags: , , , ,

No Right Turn and David Farrar have written posts on the massive lack of proportionality in the suggested voting regime by the Royal Commission report on Auckland governance. Shades of a rotten borough of 18th century England, it seems to be designed to make some voters far more ‘equal’ than others. Unlike the evolution of rotten borough’s, the Royal Commission’s plans are for a new system. What were they thinking?

Just LeftFrom Michael Wood on Just Left, this considered post on Auckland governance concentrates on where Labour should move from here.

Labour is taking the right approach to the Royal Commission report on Auckland governance namely, the inhalation of a deep breath, and the opening of our ears to the views of Auckland now that there is a concrete proposal to cogitate on. Having accepted the need for change, having set up the Royal Commission to determine the scope and nature of that change, and having recently lost office, it would have been unwise for Labour to have jumped in all opposition-y having just digested the Executive Summary, let alone the full 800 page report.

Unsurprisingly, there are aspects of the proposal that appeal, and some that don’t. The rationalisation of services that on any sensible basis should be run regionally is good, as is the establishment of new regional fora such as the Social Issues Board which will bring central and local players together to co-ordinate social policy in the region. Mandated Maori representation is a bold step that will bring a tangata-whenua voice to the regional table where it has been sorely lacking.

As to the super-structure of the city itself (namely the abolishment of the existing territorial authorities and regional council, and their replacement with one council for the whole region governed by a directly elected mayor), any sane and attuned person would have to say that the time for debate on this is over. The government will accept this aspect of the report and there ain’t no going backward.

Instead of fighting over that dead duck, the left needs to align our core values with emerging community sentiment in Auckland and look at aspects of the proposal that can and should be changed. In line with this I would like to see us building a coalition of support for change in three key areas:

1) Changing the ‘at-large’ voting system
Ten of the super-city’s twenty three councilors will be elected under a region wide ‘at large’ vote. No Right Turn persuasively points out that this method of election inevitably leads to the concentration of power in the hands of the organised few. The new structure must be seen to be democratically mandated, and in a country that has accepted proportional representation as the fairest method of electing our parliament, at large voting seems a bizarre and un-democratic step. We should campaign strongly for either the region wide election to be run under either an appropriate proportional representation system, or to have the ten regionally elected members absorbed back into the wards.

2) Anti-privatisation
Matt McCarten rightly points out that the right have been assiduously peddling their privatisation agenda in the press recently, focusing in the first instance on Ports of Auckland. There can be no doubt that those who wish to see Auckland’s publicly owned assets hocked off to private interests, will see this re-organisation as a golden opportunity. Labour and the left should campaign vigorously to categorise all other significant regional assets alongside water services, which are identified in the Royal Commission report as needing to be protected in public ownership. This is unlikely to succeed, but at the least should put the new council on notice that a fire-sale of Auckland’s assets will not be tolerated.

3) Improved Local Representation
There is a real (and surprisingly bi-partisan) sentiment building that the proposed structure does not take sufficient account of the need for good local representation. Frankly I think there is a lot of bullshit being bandied around about how good it is now (seriously ask your neighbour to name the people on your community board), but that isn’t an excuse for trying to make it more meaningful under the new structure. My preferred option for dealing with this, under the broad parameters of the Royal Commission report, would be to seriously beef up the pay and resourcing that goes to the local councils that sit under the super-city. In each sub-city this would mean that you essentially get the same number of local councilors that you have now, shorn of some of the bigger picture responsibilities that are shot up to the super-city council, and focused full time on service delivery and advocacy in their local patch.
Naturally, some better proposals may emerge from the region and Labour would be wise to listen to these.

By focusing on these issues and not getting caught up in a debate about aspects of the proposal that are a fait-accompli, Labour and the left can emerge as a relevant force in the debate about Auckland’s future, and help to cement together the progressive interests that need to come together to fight regional elections next year. More on what’s needed in that area later.

12 comments on “How to approach Auckland”

  1. RedLogix 1

    One option that would get rid of the ‘elected at large’ problem is the idea of indirect elections.

    Local Councils could continue to be elected as now, and then those Councils members elect from their own ranks, a smaller group to serve on the Super Council, with a rotating Chairperson instead of a ‘Lord Mayor’.

    The Auckland would get the city wide governance it desperately needs, but the people serving on it would chosen from those with experience and credibility at a local level.

    • Ari 1.1

      Indirect elections are bad at the best of times, (They brought us the first term of George W. Bush, for instance) but compounding that by “kicking up” a single member of an elected body to a superior body is going to cause problems- mainly, the people kicked up will have a very good chance to be favourites of the majority factions on each council, stifling significant opposition in several local areas, or they’ll end up as centrists or unoriginal, ineffectual, and mostly harmless do-nothings who a split council can actually come to agreement on.

      Either of those tendencies are pretty bad. I’d say the ideal system is going proportional for the super-city and electing local councils in wards, with abolishing the “at-large voting” seats a second choice that may have practical advantages with the crowd that hate proportionality.

      Voting-at-large is generally one of those binary things: It has potential if EVERY member is chosen by at large voting, but it’s actually worse than straight FPP elections when mixed in with districting.

  2. rave 2

    How to approach Auckland?
    Well not with my head up Rodney’s ass.
    What is the problem that needs fixing pray tell that we need a super yacht I mean city? Who gives a fuck if we have to doff our caps when passing from Waitakere to Auckland?
    The only problem is the ARC and the assets that are still in public ownership. The ARC is already a regional government charged with providing infrastructure. Wonder why we just dont pass over the water, the airport, the port and Eden Park (sorry forgot Wellington has bought that) to the ARC. It wouldnt be too difficult to do PPPs for the lot while Aucklanders were asleep at the beach.
    No its a matter of principle. The ARC is a bolshie fragment of Poland and the Polish docks are like a running sore in the eyes of his fatuous lordship of Queen St. And the freakish gnome of Epsom wants shares in his waterways when he gets his suit wet. And the jumped up prick of Parnell wants to survey us all with one sweep.
    This is a none to devious way to abolish the ARC in the name of regional pride, Maori tokenism, and fuck you proles we want our moneybags.
    What is fait accompliism mister lean left?
    You grouch about a Lord Mayor and fptp and then say because we had a Royal Commission we are supposed to grovel before this bit of feudal tripe. Off with its head I say.
    On the other hand, I don’t want to end up in the tower, so lets rename Rodney Kaipara and then we can all lie down and die happy.

    captcha: waving condescendingly (you know who)

  3. Excellent points made here – with the key being that there’s a LOT OF GOOD THINGS in the royal commission’s report. Much of the “big stuff” is right – like one district plan, one rates bill, on transport agency (oh thank god for that) and one council. The main debatable points relate to how many local councils should there be, how the councils should be elected and so forth. I think the 11 council option is far better than the 6 council option, and should be explored further. I also agree with the councillor split and voting system that both No Right Turn and Kiwiblog seem to agree upon.

    Heck if those two can agree on something it must be perfect.

    My other main worry is who will do the environmental advocacy role that the ARC currently does? Who will keep the councils honest when they come up with plan changes and the like, if it is a regional-wide council actually coming up with these plans and plan changes?

  4. Gareth 4

    Some good stuff, especially around retaining the super-structure but strengthening local representation and elections run in something approaching a modern democratic manner. I still think a 20-odd Borough model, divided into 4-6 “operational regions” that have a shared services centre providing the operational tasks and the Auckland Council overall would be a good model.

    But please, drop the “left-vs-right” partisanship on this. This is critically important to the future of my city, and I’d rather it didn’t descend it to bullshit “you’re a bloody socialist; fascist’s trying to sell my water” slanging match. Labour and “the left” should approach this in the manner that delivers the best model for their values – not in the way that best serves their political interest.

  5. Joshua 5

    I think there’s potential for some left/right agreement on the good things and bad things that have come of the Royal Commission’s report. There’s general agreement that a strengthened regional body is critical, and that the Auckland Council is probably a good idea. Nobody seems to be arguing for the status quo.

    There’s also general agreement that regionalising transport, water and other important pieces of infrastructure is a good idea.

    There’s also general agreement that local representation might be lacking in what is proposed by the Royal Commission. How that issue is sorted out remains to be seen, but people from the left and the right appear worried about unequal representation, the loss of community boards (or something similar to them) and generally the way in which “local councils” have been put together.

    That’s certainly more agreement than we see on most issues, so I can hope we’ll have a good outcome here.

  6. Gareth 6

    Has anyone come across an organised group lobbying for more low-level representation in the plan? As I understand it there’s little political room for such advocacy now, but even a media or letter-to-your-MP type group?

  7. rave 7

    Do you guys seriously think that the people of Auckland will have any say in how the supercity is set up? The RC was a jackup by business interests. The parameters are set in concrete. A super city with executive mayor (CEO) and a board of directors elected at large (shareholders).
    The current “conversation” is about the shade of lipstick on the whore.
    Ask yourself why the ARC was not empowered to do the job that the the supercity will do? Reason is that the ARC has a history of protecting the environment and key infrastructural assets from privatisation.
    Prove to me that this is not a cynical exercise in euthanazing the ARC to prepare the ports, airport, water, rail etc for privatisation.

    Yeah there is no prospect for turning this decision around. The resistance will have to be directed at preventing privatizations and putting the provision of public services and infrastructure under direct workers control.

  8. … you mean apart from every Community Board in Auckland, who are going to be knocked out of existence soon?

  9. Gareth 9

    Yes I do. I mean a group one can be a part of, should one so choose.

  10. Paul 10

    How to approach Auckland? You don’t, the best beaches are on the Coromandel.

  11. Rich 11

    Direct elections for a council leader are inherently undemocratic as the elected person will only have the full support of a minority of the electorate (even with STV). FPP is even worse as they will typically only have the grudging support of a plurality, who were forced to choose between two front runners. (Banks and Hubbard for example – I had no wish to vote for either).

    If the council leader (or Mayor, if you must) was elected by the councillors (who should be elected by a proportional system, either open list or MMP) then they would have to gain the support of a majority of the electorate, just as the PM has to have half of Parliament behind them.

    I’d also suggest that the whole process should be bottom-up not top down. Community councils should have a charter setting out what they can do. If the people in a community want to extend or reduce this, they should be able to. If they want to leave Greater Auckland and become a unitary authority, or align to another district like Waikato, they should have that choice as well.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Select committee changes Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill
    Photo by Tom Hitchon Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee has made many changes to the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill in response to public submissions, particularly submissions from iwi authorities and Te Ohu Kaimoana.   Read the amended Bill and the ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 day ago
  • Housing map a hit as crisis spreads across NZ
    More than 55,000 New Zealanders have used Labour’s interactive housing map in its first week to see how the housing crisis is affecting their local community, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Our innovative map shows the housing crisis is ...
    3 days ago
  • Bridges must come clean about fraud within transport
    Hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money have gone missing and  the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges must come clean after the Labour party revealed that a senior manager is being investigated for serious fraud, says Labour’s Transport Spokesperson ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour supports Spencer victory
    Labour congratulates Margaret Spencer for her tireless efforts in challenging the Government over family carer rights, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    3 days ago
  • US Warship visit welcomed by Labour
    Labour sees the United States warship visit as a red letter day for New Zealand’s non-nuclear status, which is core to our identity and has defined us a nation for 30 years, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    3 days ago
  • Time for honest dairy sector conversation
    ...
    3 days ago
  • What next? Dog kennels?
    Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to explain why the Government thinks it is acceptable for it to refer families to live in garages and sheds, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is a new low, just when you ...
    3 days ago
  • Banks bust a move, Government possum in the headlights
    Three of the big four banks have acted responsibly by bringing the shutters down on property speculators earlier than required by the Reserve Bank, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s a shame the Government isn’t as motivated to act ...
    3 days ago
  • Latest OECD dairy forecast raises serious questions for economy
    The latest global dairy price forecast shows that New Zealand dairy farmers will not reach a break-even payout before 2019 at the earliest, and will not reach the dairy price factored into this year’s Budget until after 2025, Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    4 days ago
  • National’s reckless, out of touch approach to economy exposed
    Today’s economic assessment from the Reserve Bank highlights the danger to the New Zealand economy from a National government that is recklessly complacent in the face of a housing crisis and a struggling export sector, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    4 days ago
  • GP’s visits get more expensive
      Visiting the GP is set to become more expensive after the Government ignored warnings that people were not receiving access to affordable  healthcare, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Over 400,000 New Zealanders who should be able to access ...
    5 days ago
  • Farm prices bear brunt of dairy downturn
    The slump in dairy prices that has seen farm prices drop to their lowest level since 2012 and down a third from their peak in 2014 will be of concern to farmers, banks and our overall financial stability, Labour’s Finance ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank “gets on with it”, National carries on in denial
    The proposal by the Reserve Bank to tighten loan to value ratios for investors shows they are prepared to do their bit to crack down on speculators, while National is still stuck in denial mode, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    6 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    7 days ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    1 week ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    1 week ago
  • Papers describe litany of incredulity
    Treasury documents which slate the Government’s plans for a national bowel screening programme confirm the proposal was nothing more than a political stunt to cover up underfunding of the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette Kings says.  The papers were ...
    1 week ago
  • Effect of rampant house prices widens
    The latest house price figures from REINZ show the housing crisis expanding throughout the country, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “We are seeing steep increases in median house prices in Central Otago Lakes – up 42.4% in the last ...
    1 week ago
  • Public invited to have say on homelessness
    People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry. This inquiry was launched ...
    1 week ago
  • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    An apology from Hekia Parata to the people of Christchurch is long overdue, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "As if the earthquakes weren't traumatic enough, Hekia Parata and the Ministry of Education then attacked the one thing that had ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ
    Labour’s new housing map shows the housing crisis is now affecting more than 98 per cent of New Zealand, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing pressures have seen house prices rise faster than wages in all but four ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Uber might not be a taxi firm but it must pay tax
    Uber needs to explain how it paid only $9000 in tax when it earned $1m in revenue and is one of the fastest growing companies in the country, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Uber New Zealand appears to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax changes should have been made 3 years ago
    National could have avoided the international stain on our reputation from the Panama Papers if it had let IRD’s planned review of foreign trusts go ahead three years ago, instead of now belatedly acting because of the Shewan recommendations, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must stop state house sell-off
    The Government must immediately pull the plug on its planned sell-off of state houses in order to stop the housing crisis getting any worse, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “While Paula Bennett is putting people into transit camps in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis drives household debt to record levels
    The Finance Minister must be woken from his slumber by Westpac’s report today that says house prices have largely driven household debt to record levels and are rising at a pace faster than other developed economies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English denies dividend decision made – Joyce should delete his account
    National must explain who is right in the Housing NZ dividend debacle, after Bill English said no decision had been made on a payment for the next two years, in direct contrast to Steven Joyce, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pressure forces Govt to make policy on the hoof
    Steven Joyce’s surprise announcement that Housing NZ will no longer be used as a cash cow has forced the Finance Minister to make one of National’s biggest ever U-turns, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “After years of insisting the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 10-fold more affordable houses under Labour
    New data showing homeownership rates continue to fall and more Kiwis than ever rent, highlights why Labour’s plan to build 10 times more affordable housing in Auckland is so desperately needed, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour’s Affordable Housing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of excuses, Brownlee resorts to scare tactics
    Gerry Brownlee’s ridiculous suggestion that Labour would nationalise Christchurch’s east frame shows National has resorted to scare tactics to hide its failure to build desperately needed affordable houses in our city, Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods says. “Plans put in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National all at sea in face of Labour’s housing plan
    Labour’s comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis has left National Ministers flailing about, contradicting themselves and simply making things up, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Steven Joyce has said in one breath that Labour’s plan represents a minor tweak ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s comprehensive plan to tackle housing crisis
    The next Labour Government has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing crisis by building affordable houses and cracking down on speculators, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The housing crisis is out of control and National has proven ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing NZ to look after people, not profits
    Labour will change Housing NZ from a corporation to a public service and use the dividends it formerly paid into the Crown coffers to maintain and build more state houses, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing NZ should ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government breaks rent subsidies promise
    National has broken a promise to subsidise the rent of 3000 low-income New Zealanders to make up for its state house sell-off, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “When John Key announced last year the Government would sell-off 8000 state ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Banks the latest to voice concerns over housing
    The Reserve Bank has revealed banks are becoming “more and more concerned” about the effects of the housing crisis, adding yet another weighty voice to the calls for action from the Government, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Reserve ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New official figures show DHB’s financial strife
    New figures from the Ministry of Health show 12 out of 20 district health boards have not been fully funded this year to cope with the aging population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.“The Ministry’s own figures to the Health ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank pleas for action from Government
    The Reserve Bank has stopped asking and is now pleading with the Government to take urgent action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Deputy Governor Grant Spencer is clearly deeply concerned about the housing crisis. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to house 5100 more homeless a year
    There would be 1400 new emergency accommodation places – enough to put a roof over the heads of 5100 homeless people a year – under Labour’s emergency housing policy announced today, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Too many of our ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Chilcot Report shows Labour was right on Iraq
    The Chilcot Report released today shows John Key was wrong to call New Zealand “MIA” over the 2003 war in Iraq and Labour made the right decision not to send troops, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “At the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bigger class sizes on the way under National
    Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Hekia Parata has proposed that schools ...
    3 weeks ago
  • National refuses to put people ahead of politics
    National’s refusal to rise above partisan politics and support a parliamentary inquiry into homelessness is hugely disappointing, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This is such an important issue that politics should be put aside and parties should work ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister in denial over Pacific home ownership fall
    As long as the Minister of Pacific Peoples continues to deny that Pacific families have had the greatest home-ownership falls under his Government’s watch, nothing serious will be done to fix the housing crisis, says Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Social Bonds experiment a failure
    The Government’s much vaunted social bonds experiment is a multi-million dollar failure, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “The news that the Wise Group has now withdrawn from the project to develop a pilot for mental health employment services, shows ...
    3 weeks ago
  • John Key must ‘get on with it’, not leave it to Reserve Bank
    John Key can’t just tell the Reserve Bank to ‘get on with’ fixing the housing crisis – he must act to tackle the rampant speculation in the housing market that has taken place under his watch, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    3 weeks ago
  • No gains for Māori while National in power
    The Minister of Māori Development needs to be honest with his people and admit his party’s ongoing support of the National Government has seen increasing inequality and decreasing prosperity for Māori, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Te Ururoa Flavell had ...
    3 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere