Backlash building on supercity

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, May 5th, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, referendum - Tags: ,


The unseemly haste with which the National/Act Government is pursuing its undemocratic supercity is causing more and more people to wake up to the con job they are pulling.

A Reid poll (ignored by the Herald but run by the community newspapers) shows where just weeks ago the public was split evenly on the proposed supercity it is now decisively against it. An overwhelming 63% of people said there is too little consultation, despite government claims of wide consultation. 61% to 39% Aucklanders oppose the government’s model of an executive mayor. Only 16% agree with the sham democracy of toothless local boards 66% prefer the Royal Commission’s model. Even support for Maori seats was surprisingly strong 46% for, 54% against.

When 700 people turn out to a meeting called ‘Wake up Papakura’ to express their worry over the supercity plan and Crusher needs 12 police to protect her, you know there is serious opposition. When 500 people turn out on the same night in Franklin to tell their MP, National’s Paul Hutchison, that they don’t want to be in the supercity and they will vote him out if they are not listened to, there is a real backlash starting.

But Key and Hide just aren’t prepared to listen. They’re going to ram through the first of three enabling acts next week under urgency. There will be select committee hearings on the second law but you would have to be seriously naïve to think that Hide and Key will listen.

Speaking of which, on Q+A last Sunday Tariana Turia revealed that she and Sharples haven’t even had a meeting with Rodney Hide on the supercity. Think about what that means the leaders of the Maori Party, ministers in the government can’t even get a meeting with their fellow minister on this issue, which they say is of vital importance to them. Hide doesn’t think they’re worth his time. Too busy in meetings with John Banks presumably.

This unseemly rush, the refusal to give Aucklanders their referendum, the government’s deaf ear to any and all criticisms, the total refusal to compromise – it all speaks to a quite incredible arrogance. That arrogance is born of their current strong polling but the way they’re going they will soon find out just how quickly popularity can evaporate.

24 comments on “Backlash building on supercity”

  1. Gareth 1

    “Only 16 percent of respondents supported the plan to create 20 to 30 local boards, as opposed to 66 percent support for the royal commission’s model of a super council with six councils under it.”

    Bugger – as I thought, the backlash against the lack of consultation is seeing people bridle against the good ideas within it.

  2. I don’t know whether the 6 councils idea would have worked tremendously well, however I also don’t know whether 20-30 local boards will work well either. Seems like somewhere in the middle might be what’s necessary.

    Yes the problem with government rushing this through is that people are starting to oppose the basic concept of the super-city, which I think is a good one. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath-water.

    • lprent 2.1

      I’d agree. However I’m afraid that it is probably too late if they shunt through the enabling bill under urgency. That will be seen as simply pre-supposing the solution. That is something that Aucklanders will kick against.

    • Eddie 2.2

      I’m not opposed to a supercity per se but I am opposed to the one National and Act are pushing and the undemocratic way they are trying to rush it through.

      I think a lot of people feel that way and it will turn them off the supercity idea (and National) altogether.

      That’s National and Act’s fault for not doing this the right way, not the fault of the people who are opposing them.

      • Tigger 2.2.1

        Agreed Eddie. I’m yet to see one convincing argument for why this legislation should be passed under urgency.

  3. SPC 3

    The Super City does not deliver better governance. This is shown around the world.

    The idea just appeals to the vanity of some Aucklanders.

    Auckland just needed to learn from Wellington how to operate a regional council concept.

    The whole idea that local self government is improved on by amalgamation would naturally lead to New Zealand becoming a state of Australia, if it were true (the only reason for it is that they are richer than us because of their mineral wealth and it would enable a quick way to make the long sought after wage catch up with our workers receiving their award wages in Oz dollars).

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Papakura, and Franklin, and here’s the trifecta: Rodney.

    Mayor Penny Webster is a former ACT MP. Rodney is true blue National territory. The blinkered determination of Key/Hide to make enemies out of friends is remarkable.

    It’s very reminiscent of Thatcher’s poll tax, when many Tory councils rebelled. The difference is – Thatcher had been in power for a decade, and won 3 elections.

    So much arrogance, so soon.

  5. Jared 5

    In reference to the previous post regarding instances of unviable super citys around the world, namely toronto, montreal, paris and tokyo no consideration was taken as to their size. Montreal for instance has 5 times the population of Auckland, and feasibly under the Royal Commission the recommendation that a supercity be established was reinforced in their report under the notion that costs would be reduced, and duplication of services would be mitigated. Auckland is no longer the region of many different councils, and essentially operates already as a single city, answering of course to 6 different councils, and a regional council. Essentially, the only difference between the royal commission recommendation and the proposed super city concept theorised by the National government comes down to representation, and not increased costs. The first bill to be introduced under urgency (which you notable omitted its nature) is to legitimize the super city and incorporate a transition committee. Public submissions are still being sought for the select committee and Key+ Hide have already promised to carefully consider the will of the people.

  6. The Voice of Reason 6

    Initially I thought that the Mt Albert by-election would be a win-win for the Nats. If they got a good vote, they could say it shows the public endorse them and if it was an average vote they could say it was a seat they never expected to win anyway.

    Now it looks more like Mt Albert will be the only referendum on the SuperCity that Aucklanders are going to get. It’s a good thing Melissa Lee’s already got a job, eh, because she ain’t gonna get within cooee of a win now.

    • Jared 6.1

      She never was going to get a shoe in anyway. Its an incredibly safe labour seat regardless of which labour candidate is standing.

      • Maynard J 6.1.1

        You’d think so but you can’t say that with certainty. It was an incredibly safe seat for Helen Clark.

  7. ben 7

    An overwhelming 63%


    • gobsmacked 7.1

      So National’s current poll ratings are underwhelming? That’s a relief.

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    “Essentially the only difference between the royal commission recommendation and the proposed super city concept theorised by the National government comes down to representation, and not increased costs”

    Representation or lack thereof is the core issue we are talking about.

    If you ignore the Maori seats, the social issues recommendation, the urban design proposals, the environmental and heritage protection proposals, the complete dismantling of our Territorial Authorities and the rural councils and the economic development agancy.

    The only thing left was the directly elected mayor.

    If they are so keen to listen why have the numbers of ward councillors already been specified in the second act?

  9. Dan 9

    The NACT people need to remember they got voted in on a Labour-lite policy. ACT only got its votes because Rodney said they would give backbone to the Nats. The vote was not so much for NACT as time for a change. They had a nice new face etc.
    If the policies turn out to be much more to the right or arrogant as of old, they will have disenchanted a new group of voters so completely they will not get in again for another nine years.
    Time for a rethink guys. Auckland needs some changes but not this way.
    Humble pie Rodney; it will be a lot easier in the long run! You were the one who was so concerned about a nanny state last year but you seem unaware of the contradictions in steamrolling these issues through after disregarding the report.

  10. hvillvoter 10

    Didnt Paul Hutchinson win with a 16,000 vote majority? Is there any merit to suggestions he would be voted out over a lack of consultation on this issue?

    • gobsmacked 10.1

      Probably not, but that was said at the meeting (see link).

      National lost in 2005 and won in 2008 on the Auckland region party vote. That’s a much bigger concern than the fate of individual electorate MPs.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 10.1.1

        More likely their rural voters in Rodney, Papakura, Franklin, Waitakere will become disillusioned and not bother voting. They certainly will not be voting ACT.

  11. DeepRed 11

    I think Aucklanders on the whole are generally in favour of a super-city structure. What they’re not in favour of is for it to be dominated by a plutocratic Roundtable elite and its hangers-on.

    recaptcha: $2.80 pinches

  12. rod 12

    Michael Laws wants a referendum on the letter H, because he knows he would win.
    John Key and Rodney Hide don’t want a referendum on the Super City because they know they would lose, well, that’s Tory democracy for you. Better get used to it folks, there is plenty more to come from this lot.

  13. Loco Burro 13

    When will the Maori Party finally get sick of being kicked around on everything. Ignored on Justice/Employment/Auckland/Fiji/Maori Affairs. Why are they still supporting this government, they will have to show their voters and supporters something soon. Dr. Sharples needs to come out stronger on the issue of Auckland and challenge the government.

  14. jarbury 14

    Does anyone know what council powers are going to be restricted by the bill that is going to be passed under urgency?

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