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Christine Fletcher’s dear Phil letter

Written By: - Date published: 2:48 pm, October 15th, 2015 - 17 comments
Categories: len brown, local government, phil goff, Politics, supercity - Tags:

I believe Christine Fletcher was one of the better National MPs.  She had a liberal view of the world and thought deeply about political issues.  She was Minister of Local Government, Women’s Affairs and Cultural Affairs but resigned in protest at the Government’s plans to sell Auckland Regional Services Trust’s assets.

As Auckland mayor she spearheaded the construction of Britomart.  The decision seemed brave, if not rash at the time.  Looking back it was the decision that kickstarted Auckland’s public transport drive.  She lost to John Banks who campaigned against its expense but ended up opening it.  Such is politics.  Fletcher is a strong supporter of the inner city rail link.

Her open letter to Phil Goff published in the Herald this morning is a somewhat blunt appraisal of how super city is performing and provides issues that need to be thought about.

She says this to Goff about Supercity.

Before getting into policy issues you need to understand that the governance of the council is a complete shambles. It is clumsy, time-wasting and ineffective.

Governance under the Auckland legislation is the sole statutory responsibility of the mayor. In Len’s case I suspect he was burdened with a load of paybacks required from back-room deals giving him a straight run at the mayoralty in 2010. While the media report you will likely run as an independent, given the history I wouldn’t rate your chances of a fresh canvas.

Conceivably the same deals might be brokered in 2016, enabling a centre-left candidate to run uncontested. I feel this is where the rot set in for Auckland.

She is not to subtle in saying what she thinks about Penny Hulse and Penny Webster:

Neither his deputy mayor nor chair of finance had much previous experience of senior government roles or management so this meant a big step up given the scale of the Auckland Council. Their preference for holding endless workshops, behind closed doors, has created a mood of extreme frustration for some councillors.

She thinks the new structure is less democratic.

Democracy feels lacking. The public have little idea on what is happening with the unitary plan, for example, and its possible impact on them personally. The process has been so intense that only those with the deepest pockets and the most determination have engaged for the long haul. They are usually developers. This leaves the rest vulnerable to the whims of the council who will feel – even though it most certainly isn’t true – that citizens have been ‘heard’.

She criticises the current levels of rates and the lack of vision.

Is one of the most liveable cities in the world becoming unliveable simply because of local government taxes?

While this crisis continues, the pre-programmed, groundhog-like meeting and workshop calendar continues relentlessly. Councillors are not driving policy. We meander on without philosophy or purpose.

We should be leading the agenda around prioritisation and how to fund our future. We must tackle this just like any other major city or we will face a rates revolt.

She has changed her mind on the utility of the super city.

From being a supporter of amalgamation I now have considerable misgivings. It is a bitter disappointment that the Government has consistently refused to undertake any review of the Auckland legislation. There has been no formal process for knowing what has been delivered for the city and citizens from amalgamation.

She finishes up by suggesting areas where change is required.

We need a review of the role of the 21 local boards, councillor representation, mayoral powers and changes to governance that would allow elected members to be involved in the appointment of the deputy mayor and chairs of committees.

We also need clarification and accountability for the role of the Independent Maori Statutory Board and to understand who they represent.

Phil, if you were serious about the mayoralty, I would have hoped to have heard from you on these vital issues for Auckland before now.

Auckland is a beautiful city and worth fighting for.

We must address the legislation, funding issues and woeful lack of leadership that has allowed a culture of “Yes Minister” to reign. It is time to put to rest the strange fusion of different agendas and get Auckland moving.

Are you up for it?

I trust that Phil will take the opportunity to respond.

17 comments on “Christine Fletcher’s dear Phil letter ”

  1. Ad 1

    Christine, Maurice and Judith have formed the “Nursing Our Bitterness” club of the spent, addicted, and otherwise unemployable.

    Swallow your reflux honey!

  2. deWithiel 2

    Auckland was once a beautiful city but it has been systematically trashed since the 1950s. Firstly by the motorway builders; then by the spivs and speculators of the 1980s who demolished its remnant built heritage willy nilly; by a National government who provided the city with a legacy of leaky buildings; and most recently by National/Act’s amalgamation fiasco and swingeing amendments to the Resource Management Act that have hastened the extraordinary destruction of the city’s urban tree canopy. They’re all still at it, grubbing away and squeezing every last cent they can get out of the place. It’ll take more than Phil Goff to fix the place, that is if it’s still fixable.

    • AB 2.1

      “it has been systematically trashed since the 1950s”

    • Alethios 2.2


      Time and again decisions are made behind closed doors in Wellington that have far reaching effects for the people of Auckland. The result is an absolute mess on every level – governance, transport, housing and one of the worst per capita urban sprawls in the world.

  3. Tracey 3

    Has she done an Open Letter to mr Hide and the ACT puppet Seymour too?

    Anyone who says there are no divisions on the Right need to read this letter

  4. Mike the Savage One 4

    Quote from above, from Christine Fletcher’s letter:
    “Democracy feels lacking. The public have little idea on what is happening with the unitary plan, for example, and its possible impact on them personally. The process has been so intense that only those with the deepest pockets and the most determination have engaged for the long haul. They are usually developers. This leaves the rest vulnerable to the whims of the council who will feel – even though it most certainly isn’t true – that citizens have been ‘heard’.”

    This is absolutely true, and Aucklanders should be very, very concerned what is going on, but sadly most seem to choose apathy, lack of interest and take no action.

    The Unitary plan will look very different to the notified version, and indeed, it will be reshaped largely by developer and business interest input, and Council having agree to too much of what they seek. It is quite disgusting what is going on.

    And Phil Goff wants to oversee this kind of stuff, or work from what may result from it, as a neoliberal aficionado he may feel comfy with that, I will be very hesitant giving him my vote though.

    • Molly 4.1

      This is true.

      I’m having to attend Unitary Plan submissions and hearings for the Unitary Plan for a community group. The expense of time and continual updates is onerous for non-fiscal groups, and tbh I have had enough. The community consultation we did was considerable, over eighteen months and across as many demographics as we could identify, but that is nothing against the pockets of the well-developed and those with immediate and social access to council representatives in our neck of the woods.

      Also, as consultation comes towards the finish line, the requirements for professional planning documents and representation, eliminates the voices that will be heard at the final sessions.

      A poor result, from a promising intent, and unfortunately, uncorrected it will end in a poor result for Auckland residents long term.

  5. Tracey 5

    Far less self-serving than Collins “I know everything and people should just listen to how wise I am” column

  6. KJT 6

    A National MP with public spirit? A rare beast indeed. Of course, sorting out Hides’ hideous stuff up was impossible from the start.
    The whole point was to remove Democracy so rates could be decreased for business, increased for residents, and assets stolen (Sorry. Sold!)

    • Tracey 6.1

      they didnt count on their stooge Banks getting back and of course Slater fought a misguided and dirty rear-guard action.

  7. heather 7

    Interesting I just heard Trotter speaking on the radio floating the idea that Christine was going have a try for Mayor again, that she was up to the challenge.
    The power the Mayor and Chief Executive have is obviously upsetting Christine and other councillors. The Chief Executive seems somewhat similar to Sir Humphrey from the wonderful old TV series ‘Yes Minister’.

    • Ad 7.1

      Nope he’s a good Chief Executive, takes no shit, and who has an important feature (as the most senior public servant in Auckland) of having the confidence of central government.

  8. One Two 8

    It does not matter who the mayor is, the controlling interests see to that

    Auckland is a broken city, which I doubt can recover from 50 odd years of abuse

  9. Stephen 9

    What Ms Fletcher fails to say is to call to account the format of the council and the CCOs.
    These were put in place by a National Govt in collusion with the ACT Party. If she wants to rail against the lack of democracy, start there.

    • Molly 9.1

      Agree. The structure creates the disorder she decries.

    • The Lone Haranguer 9.2

      I think even Rodney Hide has come put his hand up and said that the structure he helped establish wasnt working the way he envisaged it would.

      Ms Fletcher is identifying issues that she as an insider sees them, and Stephen, your playing the “blame the other guys” game is counter productive, and when what is needed is some fresh ideas that Goff (or some other mayor) can implement to improve the city.

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