The Herald recently ran an excellent piece by Dr Emma Davies and Elizabeth Rowe (from the Institute of Public Policy at AUT) – Super City’s social well-being in danger:
We risk losing sight of the fact that the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance’s recommendation for the number of councils is not the only idea abandoned in the Government’s response..
The royal commission concluded: “Central and local government’s annual social well-being spend is in the vicinity of $12 billion in the Auckland region. It is critical that these resources are applied effectively to achieve the best outcomes.
That is why the royal commission proposed a Social Issues Board. Having rejected this proposal, the Government has proposed a weaker Social Issues Forum chaired by the Minister of Social Development, and comprising the Auckland Council Mayor, the head of relevant Auckland Council committees and representation from local boards. There is no mention of how the central government agencies (Ministry of Health, Justice, Social Development and Education; Commissioner for Police, Housing New Zealand) will be actively involved, yet they are the central government agencies who spend most of the money on social issues.
The social dimension of the city’s planning is also missing from the listed activities of the Transition Board or the key topics on the Government’s Auckland website.
The the Royal Commission devoted a huge amount of attention to this topic (see Chapter 9, 70 pages, it’s hard to miss). It is clear that the weaker Social Issues Forum will not come close in scope or powers to the Board that was proposed:
… the Commission recommends the establishment of a new body, the Social Issues Board, which has the power to make decisions on the social well-being strategy for the region; to identify critical areas of need; and to decide on redistribution of resources. Its members will include the Mayor of Auckland Council, and the chairs of the Auckland Council committees. It will also include representatives from central government and in particular the chief executives of the major social agencies, such as Health, Education, Social Development, Justice, Police, and Housing New Zealand.
The systematic downgrading of the issue of the well-being of the people of Auckland speaks volumes on the priorities of this government.