web analytics

Auckland in search of democracy

Written By: - Date published: 12:59 pm, December 24th, 2013 - 29 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, class war, democracy under attack, infrastructure, transport - Tags:

In keeping with the dominance of political game playing that has been prevalent since the 1980s “neoliberal revolution” recent focus on personality politics has diverted from, and masked the very real structural problems of Auckland Council.  These problems relate to the limitations in local democracy, and the way national, and international business-oriented competitiveness obscures the destructive impact of vast inequalities.

The issues for Auckland and Aucklanders are far bigger than the misdeeds or the mayor or any one councillor.  Changing the people in these positions will not fix the structural limitations on democratic representation, nor will they prevent further abuses of power within this set up.

As Virginie Ribadeau Dumas reported in September 2010 when comparing changes in Paris and Auckland, the biggest concerns around the then planned supercity structure had to do with limited democratic representation or accountability.  local boards are too weak, while the unelected and unaccountable CCOs have too much power and control.

The local boards in Auckland however will not function on such a representative basis. They have no representative link with the Council. In the end, local boards will have no say in the services that are delivered by the Council, or by the CCOs – according to Auckland MP Phil Twyford, the Labour Party representative at the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee.

[..]

As set out in the Bill establishing the future Auckland Council, major functions (such as transport, water services and Auckland waterfront development) are to be devolved into CCOs ruled by unelected boards, operating at arm’s length from Council. This separation – as argued by backers of the move – had become necessary due to “local politicians [having] failed to deliver the results expected of them.”

The extent of the plans for outsourcing were criticised with some saying the supercity structure was that of a corporate entity and not a democratic city.

Since 2010, the role of local boards has been strengthened a little.  However, the local boards and councillors have limited powers, and that includes their ability to reign in the activities of the mayor. The mayor has presidential-like status, whlie also having limited powers in comparison with the CCOs that manage a lot of the council’s operations.

More concerning that the misdemeanors of the mayor are the criminal activities of some people in senior positions within the CCOs. See for instance, the Herald On Sunday article of 22 December, in which Bevan Hurley reports:

Thousands of dollars worth of roading materials destined for a ratepayer-funded project were delivered to home renovations of a senior council manager, a whistleblower claims.

[…]

When the driver raised concerns with the manager, he said he was told to shut his mouth or he would be “chopped off at the knees”.

The driver also alleges tens of thousands of dollars worth of materials were diverted from one project contract to another job.

It comes as a third Auckland Transport employee has left after being investigated during an ongoing inquiry into potential misuse of public money.

The Herald on Sunday understands the employee was from the northern area road maintenance.

The Serious Fraud Office is examining hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts awarded by Auckland Transport.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is assessing the latest claims made by the driver as part of the office’s investigation into allegations of corruption involving Auckland Council roading contracts.

Auckland Transport at the centre of these SFO investigations is one of the unaccountable Auckland Council CCOs. Why is this blatant corruption not getting the concentrated media attention that has been given the personal and/or ethical (but not criminal) failings of Len Brown and Cameron Brewer?

media and democracy

The recent AUT investigation into the 3 years of the existence of the amalgamated Auckland, show some confusion among residents as to how much control the NAct government has over Auckland compared with the Auckland Council.  Aucklanders tend to measure their satisfaction with the council according to their personal circumstances.

According to the AUT report (published before the 2013 election), the general statistics tend to mask the vast inequalities in the city. Youth unemployment, and the struggles of people on low incomes, especially those from Maori, Pacific and Asian backgrounds, tend to get masked by the statistical averages.

Most noticeable in the report is the failings with respect to democracy.  The elected representatives fail to fully reflect the diversity of Auckland’s communities, while the CCOs are even more unrepresentative:

The diversity of elected representation in Auckland is disappointing with few Máori and Pacific Islands members on Auckland Council and the 21 local boards, a small number only of ethnic councillors or board members, and not many female directors of council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

[…]

There are no women chairing any of the seven CCOs, while four have female deputy chairs.

On this report, a March article on Stuff says this:

The governance roles of the council in relation to local boards and council-controlled organisations (CCOs) needed critical clarification, report co-author and professor Judy McGregor said.

[…]

The authority was criticised over health and earning inequalities in deprived areas of Auckland and with Maori and Pacific Island communities. Poor local body representation by ethnic minorities was also raised.

[…]

The effectiveness of CCOs was questioned. While well governed, they were not seen to be accountable to residents or have strong oversight from the council.

The in-built limitations of the Auckland Council structure will harm all Aucklanders in the medium to long term.  This is because it enables inequalities to grow, while pandering to the wider corporate dominance nationally and internationally.

For Auckland to be a livable city for all, the whole set up of the council needs to be redrafted.

 

 

 

29 comments on “Auckland in search of democracy ”

  1. Sacha 1

    “local politicians [having] failed to deliver the results expected of them.”

    Expected by whom, is the key.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Expected by the rich and business people. Neither National nor Act think anybody else matters.

  2. captain hook 2

    the thing is they have a democracy but the whining rightwingers dont like it.
    They thought wodney was going to deliver up JOhn Banks as the great white hope but the peoples choice was still is Len Brown.
    When that happened they enlisted bluberguts to organise a lynch mob but that didn’t work either.
    I hope they choke on it.

  3. One Anonymous Knucklehead 3

    Market failure. Again. Is there a single shred of truth in the whole neo-liberal corpse?

  4. Grumpy 4

    Maybe the left just needs to list what immoral and illegal behavior they are prepared to tolerate and from who. Otherwise everyone here would be clamouring for a full audit by the AG from the top down.
    As usually happens, when the top is corrupt so is the rest.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1

      The whole setup is rotten, a natural consequence of being created by Rodney Hide: changing the players won’t fix it; corrupt dogma makes for corrupt law.

      • karol 4.1.1

        Yes, with a more truly democratic council we wouldn’t have had the whole dodgy (government pressured) SkyCity deal, and we wouldn’t have the government stalling the council on a transport system that truly serves all Aucklanders; we’d have had more focus on doing something urgently about unaffordable housing, especially rental housing; we’d have had more attention to the high amount of youth unemployment in the city. …. etc, etc

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          Yes, with a more truly democratic council we wouldn’t have had the whole dodgy (government pressured) SkyCity deal…

          The central government shouldn’t have been able to make that deal at all. It should have been solely up to Aucklanders via referendum. And agree with everything else you’ve said as well. Since this government got in they’ve been making it worse for a lot of Aucklanders so as to pay out to the corporates.

    • karol 4.2

      Yes. What can you expect from a morally and ethically bankrupt government and CCOs?

      • grumpy 4.2.1

        there is some truth to that. A government on it’s game would have sent in the heavies by now unless there is something embarrassing waiting for them…….

  5. RedLogix 5

    I suppose this is as good a point to mention that a trusted friend of mine has first hand evidence of a massive property development fraud that has fallen between the cracks as the Super City was being formed.

    Something in the order of $100m (yes that’s right) of ratepayers money has been used to benefit a major private developer.

    There are various people who know exactly what I am talking about.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      I’m going to have to point our that if you know of something like that and have evidence then it needs to be reported to the SFO. Not reporting it encourages the corruption to fester.

      • RedLogix 5.1.1

        Oh yes DtB. Not a lot more I can say at present. I realise this isn’t satisfactory but it’s not really my story to tell in detail.

        • Murray Olsen 5.1.1.1

          Be careful, RL and whoever else knows about this. $100 million is way above the threshold for people to be disposed of, literally or figuratively. I hope the story comes to light and whoever uncovers it is very, very careful. There are many ways to destroy a person, with perhaps the most obvious being the planting of kiddy porn on their computer. Luckily, our police and intelligence agencies are honest and responsible and would never participate in such acts.

  6. Steve 6

    Karol, who appoints the CCOs?

    • karol 6.1

      The CCOs are complicated structures that operate a bit like SOEs.

      They are kind of accountable to the council, but, as quoted in my post above they:

      CCOs ruled by unelected boards, operating at arm’s length from Council.

      The CCO directors are chosen by a select committee of councillors and the mayor. There’s a similar selct committee to review the CCOs performance. Though only about 50% of votes for CCO directors and trustees come fromt he council.

      But the aims of the CCOs are set by the CCO shareholders “both commerical and non-commercial”.

      Basically the structure weakens the extent to which councillors can influence the CCOs. Also, there are too many corporate/commercial interests involved in pressuring their directions. Further, the complex, hand-length structure means there’s a lack of direct accountability or transparency to enable the public to be able to assess their performance.

      Ultimately the CCO directors and boards were selected in a way that was very corporate friendly. While, in theory there seems to be some checks and balances re accountability of the CCOs, in practice, the way CCOs are not directly controlled by elected representatives, but appointees, from within the higher levels of or status/wealth hierarchy, means the ability to hold them to account is weak.

      Thus, Mayor Brown had little real power to influence the way the mayor responded to the behaviour of the Ports of Auckland in their dispute with MUNZ. Councillors had even less influence.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.2

      Rodney Hide appointed them. No wonder there’s so much corruption.

  7. Will@Welly 7

    The re-modelling of Auckland into a SuperCity was for one thing, and one thing only. It was to remove democracy from the people. Make the structure as undemocratic as possible. That’s why Rodney Hide was in charge. Remember, Banksy was the heir apparent, but he fell at the final fence.
    By taking away the democratic voice from Aucklanders, how were they supposed to voice their concerns when National/Act started to divest Auckland of its assets, the real goal behind the amalgamation.
    National are keen to see similar amalgamations around the country, simply so they can flog off all the assets to their mates. The real test will be in Christchurch, which is asset rich, but cash poor. Sell the assets now and in 15 – 20 years time, say hello to Detroit.

  8. Philj 8

    Xox
    They were promoting the sale off of Christchurch Assets just last week to make up for the shortfall.

    • Sacha 8.1

      On that front, Lianne Dalziel vs Gerry Brownlee will be fascinating to watch this year.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      I’m pretty sure that National and their backers were rubbing their hands together over the Chch earthquake and the opportunity it would give them to turn NZ even more feudal sell state assets.

  9. Matthew 9

    I just skim read the article but I presume the unelected Maori Board was heavily attacked given the tone of the article?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Seniors – our parents and grandparents
    International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism, Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said today. “What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Residential building sector growing stronger
    Figures released by Statistics New Zealand today show healthy growth in residential building consents in an environment of Government support for the sector during COVID-19, says Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods. Statistics New Zealand reported today that a record 10,063 townhouses, flats, and units were consented in the August 2020 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF helps Bay of Plenty youth find jobs
    Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support for a pathways to work hub in Tauranga will help address high youth unemployment in the Bay of Plenty by connecting young people with training and meaningful employment opportunities, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau has announced. “Priority One Western Bay of Plenty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Government confirms new acute mental health facility for Lakes DHB
    A new acute inpatient mental health facility at Rotorua Hospital will provide more patient-centred and culturally appropriate care to better support recovery, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says. “Improving mental health and addiction services remains one of the biggest long-term challenges facing New Zealand,” says Chris Hipkins. “Lakes DHB’s existing Whare ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Community Languages Fund to increase support for Pacific community language projects
    Round two of the Community Languages Fund (CLF) will provide even more support for Pacific grassroots community and family language projects with the introduction of a second funding tier of $10,000, in addition to the $2,500 tier, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.  During the first round of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Government puts teacher wellbeing at the centre
    The Government is committing nearly $9 million to ensure educators in early learning services and schools get the wellbeing support they need. Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement, which includes providing frontline counselling and advice services for educators, during his address at the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) annual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago