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Dispatches from the Mirror Universe: Herald vows to fight super-council

Written By: - Date published: 1:18 pm, April 10th, 2009 - 36 comments
Categories: Media - Tags: ,

democracy-under-attackToday, The Herald relaunched it’s ‘Democracy under attack’ campaign with a front page editorial. The editorial is damning of National/ACT’s plan for an Auckland super-council. Here are the main points:

  • 12front200“everyone, regardless of their political hue must oppose the removal of representation without consent”
  • “the precedent is that when a merging of councils is proposed there should be a referendum for the people to decide”
  • “Key and Hide can not claim that the Royal Commission report constitutes the people having their say. Especially when the plan they have unveiled bears no real resemblance to the Royal Commission’s proposal”
  • “the local boards will be useless. They have no powers and appear to have been created merely to give the appearance of democracy”
  • “There is a reason why National and ACT have proposed this scheme and Left-wing groups have opposed it. The design of the super-city will clearly favour Right-wing candidates by excluding the voices of the many”
  • “The super-mayor and super-council will, in all probability, be white, rich, business owners, and male. Others will find it impossible to be viable candidates. That’s not democracy as we understand it in modern New Zealand.”
  • “This is not about politics, this is about democracy. The Herald will oppose the creation of an undemocratic super-city without consent every step of the way”

Back in the real world, The Herald showed it’s hysteria last year was not really about democracy at all, it was about getting National into power.

36 comments on “Dispatches from the Mirror Universe: Herald vows to fight super-council”

  1. Tom M 1

    “The design of the super-city will clearly favour Right-wing candidates by excluding the voices of the many’

    Just putting this out there, but didn’t the Right just win an election? That seems to me like the ultimate expression of the voices of the many.

    Otherwise though, I agree that a ‘supercity’ is a bad idea.

    • People don’t know the difference mate, and most peopled don’t even vote; local elections are even more flawed than national-level. This will simply be another a case of those getting into power not necessary representing the interests of the people, rather interest of big business.

      Politics 101

  2. lprent 2

    I don’t think much of the super-city. There is a post of mine sitting in the queue where I’ve looked at it from a campaigning perspective.

    The basic problem is that they have made the interface between the voters and the councilors far far too coarse. The proposed local boards are useless. The wards are ridiculously over sized and the at-large votes for councilors and the mayor are just ludicrous.

    Not to mention the donation systems etc.

    Be nice if the Granny actually believed in democracy – but I suspect that they are just interested in headlines

  3. gingercrush 3

    I wonder to what extent the Mt. Albert by-election will be run on the Super City issue.

  4. Gooner 4

    I keep hearing that the local boards will be “useless”.

    How does anyone know that without the legislation being drafted?

    Th shrill of the Left in the last week has been priceless though.

    • lprent 4.1

      It is pretty straight forward. They have no control over either budget or revenue gathering. Tell me, what use can they be?

      If you ask me, they are both useless and Worthless (He can’t Hide).

  5. The Baron 5

    But your beloved labour party started this process, guys… and the “evil” nats ignored the local representation aspects and are planning to implement something far more palatable in that regard.

    Really though, it is incredible to read some of the comments on this blog sometimes. It appears that the only “valid” outcome that you guys can see is one where the left win elections, be them national or local. Anything else is explained by big business bias, or evil machinations of some vast right wing conspiracy (heh), or some mass delusion amongst the populace. If only everyone knew as well as you lot eh!

    Simply put, it appears that the majority of people like these proposals. Just like the majority of people like the national party. If that is the case, then what is a viable strategy for the left to run – knocking, and automatically siding with a minority? Or positing a better idea, and trying to convince the majority.

    The above is the difference between being bad at opposition, and good at it. You lot, and the labour party, need to learn how to do the latter.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      “The above is the difference between being bad at opposition, and good at it.”

      Shit mate, we’ve only been at it for a few months. You and your’s had 9 years remember.

      As for the rest, if you really want to discuss wether the right or the left is more prone to conspiracy talk, I’ll gladly take you up on that.

      • The Baron 5.1.1

        Hahaha quite on the conspiracy point… though in my opinion, too many on both sides engage in conspiracy instead of analysis. I frankly hate arguments based on such things, regardless of the colour…

        But hey, you guys may be good at it after nine years too… you’ll certainly have longer than three to get used to it at this rate!

    • lprent 5.2

      To date it has been hard to find anyone who has anything good to say about them apart from Key/Hide. It will be interesting how people think after looking at the proposals in more detail.

      • The Baron 5.2.1

        If you’re referring to the current mayors/concillors/community board chairpersons, then I’d argue that they are hardly objective commentators. All of them will be too petrified that there aren’t as many sinecures as their once was. And please, that comment applies to the C&R side as much as the Vision side.

        I’m relying on anecdotal comments – as far as I am aware, there has been no real objective “test” of what the people of Auckland think of the idea.

        So, I am prepared to admit that my statements are not at all scientific, and merely a statement of my opinion. Are you guys prepared to say the same about your “everyone hates it” statements?

        • Pascal's bookie 5.2.1.1

          though in my opinion, too many on both sides engage in conspiracy instead of analysis. I frankly hate arguments based on such things, regardless of the colour

          Good-o

          If you’re referring to the current mayors/concillors/community board chairpersons, then I’d argue that they are hardly objective commentators. All of them will be too petrified that there aren’t as many sinecures as their once was.

          hmmm. 😉

          • Lindsey 5.2.1.1.1

            Sinecure, hah! About $10,000 pa for Board members at Auckland City and $20,000 pa for Board Chairs. You do not do it for the money

    • Sean 5.3

      “But your beloved labour party started this process, guys and the “evil’ nats ignored the local representation aspects and are planning to implement something far more palatable in that regard.”

      The problem is National has ignored the conclusions of the Royal Commission and come up with its own supercity.

  6. gobsmacked 6

    Baron

    “Labour started this process … ” – demonstrably false.

    Labour appointed the Royal Commission. National are ignoring the Royal Commission (including the Commission’s proposals for consultation). Do your homework.

    You state: “it appears that the majority of people like these proposals”

    Evidence?

    • The Baron 6.1

      Gah, to the substance man – the larger point is that your sour grapes approach to politics is NOT GOING TO WIN ELECTIONS.

      But to your counter arguments – why did Labour appoint the royal commission then? They wanted to blow $5m for the hell of it? Or because they wanted some recommendations? Recommendations were given, and the nats are implementing them! Hell, they’re even modifying them to increase local participation, which I would have thought you lot would piss your pants over.

      But no no, while I may need to do my homework, maybe you could take off your red tinted glasses and see that the majority of New Zealand no longer thinks your friends have the answers to these questions.

      As for my comment regarding the popularity of the proposals – I worded that in such a manner that shows it is not a fact based opinion. See the use of “APPEARS”. Do you have any evidence that the majority of Aucklanders don’t like these proposals?

      • lprent 6.1.1

        No they aren’t implementing the Royal; Commission’s plan (bad as that was). They are implementing their own that bear virtually no relationship with the commissions. It is less democratic, more venal, more expensive and difficult to implement as well. In short – another Key fuckup (with Hide as a sock-puppet)

        Tell me, have you read anything on this subject or are you just excreting this bullshit without bothering with such difficult things as facts or learning?

        • The Baron 6.1.1.1

          Hey, I’m open to be educated – can you point me to the “facts” that I should be reading about this subject to educate myself?

          Because having read the Royal Commission’s report, and the release that the Govt came out with following, I can certainly see plenty of similarities. Anything that changed was on the basis of feedback offered, particularly on the local representation/engagement changes.

          But hey, if I missed a better source, please point me to it. Links would be nice – I’ll read them tonight and come back with some new comments.

          • lprent 6.1.1.1.1

            Try No Right Turn. Or wait until tommorrow when I point out some flaws you can drive a bus thru. It is scheduled for about 10am. I’m at the movies so ….. NRTis on the blogroll Left

          • BLiP 6.1.1.1.2

            You cannot be making the comments you are if you have read the report.

  7. r0b 7

    the larger point is that your sour grapes approach to politics is NOT GOING TO WIN ELECTIONS.

    Isn’t it? The “New Zealand Sucks” campaign won an election for National…

    I’d much rather the Left was always upbeat and positive, but the sad fact is that negative campaigning does work.

    Excellent post btw, was wondering when something would come out on Auckland. Key’s determination to ram this through without any public consultation is yet another example of his contempt for the democratic process.

  8. Gooner 8

    “The problem is National has ignored the conclusions of the Royal Commission and come up with its own supercity.”

    That’s not a problem, that’s a solution.

    The Commissioners proposals removed grass roots democracy – Community Boards – and kept in place monolithic bureaucracies that were simply renamed local councils. The Government’s proposal is to reverse this and put in place much more democratic institutions through the local boards. Democracy is always served best by, through and with communities. It was absolutely nonsensical to give councils a name change and keep them in place while at the same time demolishing community boards. No one has any idea what the powers of the local boards will be because the legislation hasn’t been drafted yet. How anyone can comment that they are “useless” without their parameters set is beyond me. You’re just playing politics with this, nothing else.

    And the Government has reduced the elected-at-large component of the Commission’s report from 10 to 8. That’s an improvement on the report.

    Honestly, the debate around this is not very intelligent, and that doesn’t just include this blog. It will be important for the local boards to have a lot more power than the current community boards and I reckon that’ll happen. If it doesn’t then I agree that criticism would be warranted.

    • lprent 8.1

      The government has made a virtually powerless community board system into a totally powerless local board system. At least the community board members could get to talk to the far larger number of councilors.

      With only 20 councilors across the whole city, and running a completely different type of campaign, the opinions of local board members will be worth nothing. The only thing that they are there for is to give voters something to blame that isn’t the councilors.

      Since the councilors do all of the money allocations across the local boards, I’d expect that some kind of reward system would run. Any local board that disagreed with allocations and spoke about it is going to get their resources chopped.

      Essentially the local boards should be avoided at all costs by political or public spirited people. You cannot do anything from that position apart from being a patsy.

      • jarbury 8.1.1

        The number of councillors proposed by the Royal Commission is virtually the same as the number proposed by government. The difference is the 3 Maori councillors – which is a whole different issue that has side-tracked most debate so far.

        Does anyone know what powers the ARC thought community councils should have, when they made their submission to the Royal Commission?

  9. There are many ways in which the governments plans are similar to what the Royal Commission came up with. These are big things like one unitary authority, one District Plan, one water agency, one rates bill and one transport agency. In fact, the majority of the commission appears to have been implemented by the government in their “response”.

    HOWEVER, there are some crucial aspects that have been changed. I’m more of a fan of the 20-30 boards than I was of the 6 local councils – however that’s only on the proviso that the 20-30 boards actually have some realistic power. For example, they could have the right to levy a targeted rate on their area for a local project. This is something that the Auckland Council shouldn’t be able to say no to. Getting the powers of the local boards sorted out will be a crucial process, and I certainly hope they end up being more than just glorified (and definitely more than gutted) community boards. In terms of ensuring the “local” in local government, surely a local board with 80,000 people is better than a local council with up to 400,000 people as your most local point of contact.

    The other main thing the government has messed with is the structure of the Auckland Council, and how it is elected. I think the original split was 10 councillors at large, 10 from wards and 3 Maori. That’s changed to 8 at large, 12 from wards and 0 Maori. Clearly Maori have been disenfranchised, but putting that aside we now actually have fewer “at large” councillors than before. I would clearly prefer a situation where they were all elected at large – but I think it’s incorrect to say the government has made this situation worse than what was proposed by the royal commission.

    Labour should be focusing on wanting three things here:

    1) More power to the local boards
    2) All councillors elected from wards
    3) Return of the Maori councillors (though it’s not totally clear what their opinion on this is).

    Other losses, such as transport funding not being “outcome based”, and the loss of more say into social spending, seem to have been largely ignored.

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath-water here in critiquing the Super City. There is a lot right with what’s happening here, it just needs a fair amount of tweaking.

  10. lprent 10

    Apart from the super-city stuff. Does anyone actually expect the NZ Herald to do any kind of stand for ‘democracy’ when it doesn’t involve advertising revenue.

    I personally thought that their spirited defense against the EFA was mainly motivated by lost advertising revenue and a desire to have a more compliant government in power. To date I haven’t seen a damn thing at an editorial level (apart from keeping Rudman) that makes me even consider anything different.

    As the post says, the Herald is an Auckland paper. To date (with the exception of Rudman) I don’t think that there has been any serious analysis of the effects of this change on the local ‘democracy’. Mostly what I’ve seen a reprints of press releases – including in the editorial pages. For instance the announced detail on the ‘grassroots’ local boards essentially says that they are powerless. The Herald from what I’ve seen still seems to think that it has a place and purpose – for what exactly?.

    For instance Fran O’Sullivan has largely been repeating the mantra from the business community. That almost entirely ignores representation issues apart from the fact that business people are looking like pigs in a trough. And yes I’d agree that the business community will be well represented. The proposed system is perfect for businesses to buy councilors for stupid events like road races to screw our traffic.

  11. jarbury 11

    lprent, I thought that Thursday’s herald felt like the final straw. The day after parliament’s first debate on the super city and the day after Helen Clark’s valedictory speech we get a herald editorial advocating for the removal of all school zoning. I mean seriously WTF?

    • lprent 11.1

      The Granny is pretty much a waste of effort these days… It does represent a part of the thinking in Auckland – their readers. Relatively affluent, highly conservative, and diminishing.

      Can’t think why anyone would bother advertising there. Much faster, cheaper and more effective on trademe. I managed to rent my apartment out in a few days, cost buggerall, and was minimal effort.

      • ak 11.1.1

        Yep, Lyn, the granny’s been a total joke for quite a while. The Lenin/Helen faux-hysteria sealed it, and the continuing “your views” farce confirms her current readership and inevitable demise.
        SuperAuk is a genuine and obvious travesty of democracy – the boards a pathetic and blatant sop – but hey, who cares? – less community power means less community spirit – and powerless, spiritless, atoms of production are the basis of the balance sheet: the essential, pliable commodity of granny’s advertisers….who also buy the rag, and whom she also fired up to toss out Helen with the ludicrous “death of democracy” crap!
        And now, faced with a genuine attack on Democracy, the classic boy who cried wolf.
        Shuffle off, gran: you’re a sad joke.

      • BLiP 11.1.2

        The NZ Fox-News Herald only cares about filling up the space left behind after the ads have been sold. The Herald is a foreign owned publication dedicated to the maximising of returns to shareholders.

  12. Irascible 12

    Just watch the social services of the present cities disappear under the super sucker city system… no more free library services, swimming pools and community support systems … here comes the NACT agenda “USER PAYS + BIG RATES INCREASES” Welcome to the right wing world of selfish agrandisement by media “stars” and the like.. no way I want to have welcome holmes or can you banks on it representing me and my community.

  13. Pat 13

    Len Brown said it best on Radio Live when he asked why everyone expects John Banks to become the Supercity mayor. As he pointed out, the Left have the numbers if they all pull together behind one left-leaning mayoral candidate (presumably himself). Then the Lefts biggest fears about the Supercity can be quelled and they can make the changes from within.

    That is the challenge – can the Left pull together under one voice.

  14. BLiP 14

    The model for the Auckland Super City is the National Party’s wet dream for what they want for New Zealand. The rewrite of the Royal Commission’s report and recommendations has morphed into a CEO, a Board of directors and impotent consumer feedback. The whole thing is a perfect set up for the wholesale distribution of the city’s infrastructure to John Key’s overseas mates.

    And who said he would stick up for the weakest and most vulnerable? Why, its Double Dipper Sam “Lotto” Iinga . And what’s he got to say about the situation? Sweet fuck all.

    Thanks National.

  15. DeepRed 15

    The ultimate embarrassment for Minister Hide would be the election of a Ken Livingstone figure for Greater Auckland. And even more so if Rodney de-merges Greater Auckland in an act of spite, like Thatcher did with the real Mayor Livingstone’s Greater London Council in 1986.

  16. jarbury 16

    Who is that person going to be though? Mike Lee – doubt it after the whole Beckham incident; Len Brown, who?; Andrew Williams – LOL.

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