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When is the required referendum?

Written By: - Date published: 3:21 pm, April 20th, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

I agree with the title of the Herald’s editoral today: “Let citizens have say on Super City“. Unfortunately, the editoral itself is wishy-washy.
Aucklanders do deserve to have a say on the super city proposal. They should get to vote yes or no on the supercity in referenda before anything is set in stone. In fact the government is required to do so.
I’ve just discovered that referenda are in fact required when there is a proposal to merge councils. Clause 49 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act states:
If a draft reorganisation scheme has been approved… a poll of electors on the proposal that the reorganisation scheme proceed must be held in each district or region that is directly affected by the scheme.
Strange, then, that we haven’t heard anything about referenda on the supercity. In fact as this enhanced* screenshot of the official site on the super city proposal shows, there isn’t a mention of having a referendum on the site.
lessdemocracy500Could it be that the Government intends to include in its legislation provisions to take away Aucklanders’ right to have their say in how their local government is organised? Rodney Hide earlier this month had this to say:
We need to act decisively if we are to achieve the timetable that will allow the new structure to be established before October next year. This will allow Aucklanders to have their say on whom they want to run their region and represent their communities.
To achieve that timetable it appears that Rodney wants to ignore the requirement to hold a referendum. That really would be an attack on democracy. To get the venal city structure that he wants and National is agreeing to, they will have to remove a protection on our democracy first.

*I’d suggest that they enhance the logo on the site as I did, to avoid also violating “truth in advertising” legislation.

[updated – put the correct clause in, clause 46 is who can authorise and clause 49 is the requirement for the poll]

18 comments on “When is the required referendum?”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    Better to delay elections, if necessary, than deny voters a referendum. Hopefully a Question to the Minister as soon as Parliament resumes will clear this up.

  2. randal 2

    hey lp
    wodney always wants to ignore democratic process
    that would require listening to people and being civil
    the very thing he says he wants but the very thing he will not deal with
    Auckland deserves more than being railroaded by a gang of retailers and realtors
    the same sharks that held up reform when they could get more out of it but now it suits them to bulldoze the entire structure to achiever their venal ends

  3. the sprout 3

    Arrogant and out of touch already.

    What will they be like in a year’s time?

  4. Tigger 4

    Word is that Key has allowed Hide to run free on this issue – he’s said he just wants a result and doesn’t care how its done. So effectively this whole thing is one big ACT project. Not only does Rodney want to ignore due process, he’s throwing tantrums to push things through even faster.

    Hide doesn’t care about ‘Maori’ stuff either – he’s already been talking about any wards with Maori names in disparaging terms (literally ‘We don’t need that Maori sh*t’).

    Further word is that Rodney is already talking about selling council properties (the new Waitakere building was mentioned by name) and prepping council assets for sale post the next election.

  5. Jasper 5

    Ah, but if you read further, no poll is required if the matters pertain to one or more of Subclause 40.

    40 (2) b.,

    “whether or not good local government would be promoted by the inclusion of any part of the district or region in the district or region of another local authority (whether by the constitution of a new district or region or by the alteration of boundaries)”

    40 (2) c –
    whether or not the system of representation in the district or region best meets the “criteria in clause”

    and 40 (2) d-
    “Whether or not good local government of the district or region would be best promoted by
    (i) the system of communities (if any) and the responsibilities, duties, and powers of the community boards in the district or region; or
    (ii) an alternative system of communities; or
    (iii) a change in the responsibilities, duties, and powers of the community boards in the district or region”

    It looks like to me that there is no requirement for a poll.

    • lprent 5.1

      Wrong, they cannot approve under that clause. That simply gives criteria that they have to consider for simple reorganization related to shifts in the electorate – ie for demographic change. The key word is ‘solely’ in clause 49.

      They will have to approve under clause 46(1).

      49 Polls must be held
      (1) If a draft reorganisation scheme has been approved under clause 46, a poll of electors on the proposal that the reorganisation scheme proceed must be held in each district or region that is directly affected by the scheme.
      (2) Despite subclause (1), no poll of electors must be held on a reorganisation scheme that deals solely with 1 or more of the matters listed in clause 40(2)(b), (c), or (d).

      Damn just noticed that I’d accidentally put clause 46 in the post when I meant clause 49… Fixed.

  6. sean 6

    and which of those sub-clauses is relevant to the supercity? None of them.

    When Banks Peninsula merged with Christchurch City we had a referendum first.

  7. Rich 7

    I thought that, but was assuming they simply plan to pass legislation that removes the need for a referendum.

    • Ari 7.1

      In which case they’re leaving themselves wide-open for all sorts of attacks on how they’re repealing our democracy.

      • Rex Widerstrom 7.1.1

        And in which case I would hope to see a revival of the Free Speech Coalition. Looks like it was mothballed a little too quickly…

  8. Graeme 8

    While the point about needing democratic buy-in is well-made, the obvious and simple response to the idea that this is legally required is that:

    1. Schedule 3 applies to re-organisation proposals proposed under section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002.

    2. This is not a re-organisation proposal under section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002.

    3. Therefore schedule 3 does not apply.

    • lprent 8.1

      If this isn’t a re-organisation of the governing structure of Auckland – then what is it? In particular what act(s) are they going to hook this auckland legislation to?

      Or is this going to be a seperate act that obviates the Local Government Act? I think that we should raise a petition under the Local Government Act to change whatever Rodney brings in (assuming it as stupid as what he is currently proposing).

      I’m pretty sure that we can get a lot of support and easily 10% to get a reorganisation proposal under the Local Government Act.

      • Graeme 8.1.1

        This is going to be a separate law. It has to be.

        We’re to create an semi-executive Mayor, allow the mayor the appoint the deputy mayor and council chairs and propose the budget; create never-before seen local boards, etc. etc.

        It needs a new law if they’re going to do it.

  9. Jasper 9

    I stand corrected.

  10. jarbury 10

    This is an interesting issue that you’ve raised lprent. I have heard that the government wants to introduce an “Auckland Bill” – which I guess will try to bypass all these referendum issues. Perhaps the government is trying to push a dodgy “this is not amalgamation, but rather dis-establishment of all existing councils and re-establishment of one new council”.

    It is pretty dodgy though.

  11. wren 11

    Graeme, that’s only because the government is going to extraordinary steps to bypass the normal reorganisation process by putting up this Auckland Bill. Why can’t the Auckland Bill include a referendum like the normal process?

  12. Macro 12

    Dodgy it is! and that’s is just another example of the way this crowd work! Not one of them you could trust as far as you could throw them. The electors were warned before the election that it was a choice about who one could trust – many chose to ignore that warning and now the majority are paying for it. The people of Epsom have a lot to answer for!
    Despite Graeme’s legal exposition – it would still be worth a shot to challenge the proposed amalgamation in the Courts – and would HIGHLIGHT to the people of NZ just how dodgy and undemocratic this whole shoddy mess is.

  13. Adrian 13

    There is no democracy at the local level. When only about 30% of people vote how can one even talk about democracy?

    Maybe with a single council there will be more voter turn out. That can only be a good thing for the left. Usually the higher the voter turn out the better the left does. I live on the North Shore and with a very low turnout we got stuck with Williams or whatever his name is. How many of us can name any councillors let alone our community board members, or health board, or the many other boards and councils that we vote for every 3 years – usually based on a paragraph of information in the booklet that comes with the ballot.

    As soon as the sick council is put to sleep the better.

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