Yesterday I pointed out that the Local Government Act requires referenda on boundary changes such as are envisaged for Auckland. To not do so would be to use the parliamentary rights to amend legislation to remove a required consultation with the citizens of Auckland. It appears likely (from Graeme) that NACT will put forward a new bill to enable the changes, thereby by-passing the Local Government Act.
That leaves and interesting question about National. It turns out that National policy before the election was to let Aucklanders have their say on any proposal to change our city. They said in their policy on local government
- Support the Royal Commission providing an opportunity for people within the Auckland region to express their views about the structures that will best achieve the goals set out above.
- Consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission are known.
- Implement changes that will best achieve the goals of good regional infrastructure, sound and consistent regulation, and economic growth throughout the region, as well as making
sure each community in our biggest city feels appropriately represented.
I’ve emphasised in italics the interesting bits. It appears that their coalition partner Act, in their haste to get the super-city implemented before 2010, is going to prevent any significant ‘consultation’. The Local Government Act sets the standard of a referendum as appropiate consultation.
It is difficult to see how National can consult with Aucklanders if they don’t get Rodney to leave time for a referendum.
Moveover, it is hard to see how local boards are going to be able appropiately represent communities. They may get people on those boards, but Rodney Hide is proposing that the boards are effectively powerless to change the use of resources without the super-city council’s approval. People elected to those boards will be able to ‘input’ but be unable to change anything.
Of course the National Party would probably argue that communities can band together to secure one of the eight at-large seats, as John Key has suggested that Maori do. The problem with that is the level of resources that will be required to run a city-wide campaign and the clear effect that such a campaign will favour groups with a lot of money – leading to excessive venal politics. Hardly likely to favour local communities or even the wider ones apart from the business interests who support both Act and National.
So the question is, are National covertly changing their policy to one of non-consultation and inadequete community representation to keep one coalition partner happy?
They certainly didn’t keep the Maori Party happy.