Let me tell you the consequences of Auckland’s leadership remaining at a standstill.
Unless Council’s 2014 budget is drafted by February Auckland could have the same kind of Government shut down that occurred in the United States recently.
Unless a Unitary Plan Hearings Panel is set up and running within the next year, every house owner and house builder will have not one but seven sets of Council rules to deal with and the Auckland Plan vision will go out the window.
Unless Auckland Council nails a funding plan in 2014 there will be no City Rail Link in the future. We will remain a motorway dominated car dominated mess as far as the eye can see.
If fresh leadership fails to rise soon, the ratepayers of Auckland will remain Auckland’s primary source of budget funding. There will be no alternative funding plan for Auckland, just more rates bills.
If Council’s new Chief Executive remains as trapped by political scandal as the previous one, Council’s CCOs will continue to frustrate citizens and each other rather than be Auckland’s growth engine.
If Councillors continue to cannibalise each other with investigations, Auckland will start to represent the permanent revolution of France after 1789, when the old order was deposed but no one cared what a replacement good Government looked like. Instead they swam in their own self-righteous gore.
Unless there is a great re-start in 2014, the urban decay of suburbs will continue. There will be no revived Otahuhu, no grand plan for Avondale, no street upgrade for Takapuna, no transit cohesion for Manukau, no new mainstreet for Papakura, no nothing for Ponsonby Road, no chance ever of electric trains to Pukekohe, no busway to Pakuranga or Botany Downs, nothing except a few millionaire enclaves and the rest of the city in quickly deepening inequality.
Unless Councillors stop fighting each other there is a real risk that Central Government agencies will start doing Auckland Council’s job for them. This will start with the Audit Office, then NZTA and the Ministry of Transport, then potentially a Commissioner appointed to replace a consistently dysfunctional Council. Pretty soon the last few years of reforms are replaced with a Government Department, The people of Christchurch can tell you what that feels like. Government may well ask if Auckland’s Council would run better without any democracy and simply have a Ministry for Auckland if this mess continues.
If there is no strong leadership in 2014, the days of Auckland hosting another Commonwealth Games, Rugby World Cup, Masters Games or Americas Cup are over. Would you believe a bid now from Toronto?
If the chaos at the top table continues, the smart money will close their chequebooks and go elsewhere. In just three short years, Auckland’s film industry has gone from flourishing to failure and this will get worse.
Citizens, central Government and business can all see what is at stake if Auckland Council continues without strong leadership. This is no moment for “forgive and forget” platitudes. But the great momentum of last term has been halted dead. Council’s easy road is to start the perpetual guillotine of inquiry and mire in the spectacle of destruction. We will then look back by November 2016 and weep at what could have been.
The Council was elected just months ago to lead one third of New Zealanders into a confident future backed by Government, by sound financial plans, by a fresh Unitary Plan, and with a single unified vision.
They have 100 days to restart Auckland and unite Cabinet, Council and citizens again. After that, the national mind turns once more to Central Government elections. By April 2014 the people are back on side for this electoral term or they are done with you.