How to approach Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 pm, April 4th, 2009 - 12 comments
Categories: local government - Tags: , , , ,

No Right Turn and David Farrar have written posts on the massive lack of proportionality in the suggested voting regime by the Royal Commission report on Auckland governance. Shades of a rotten borough of 18th century England, it seems to be designed to make some voters far more ‘equal’ than others. Unlike the evolution of rotten borough’s, the Royal Commission’s plans are for a new system. What were they thinking?

Just LeftFrom Michael Wood on Just Left, this considered post on Auckland governance concentrates on where Labour should move from here.

Labour is taking the right approach to the Royal Commission report on Auckland governance namely, the inhalation of a deep breath, and the opening of our ears to the views of Auckland now that there is a concrete proposal to cogitate on. Having accepted the need for change, having set up the Royal Commission to determine the scope and nature of that change, and having recently lost office, it would have been unwise for Labour to have jumped in all opposition-y having just digested the Executive Summary, let alone the full 800 page report.

Unsurprisingly, there are aspects of the proposal that appeal, and some that don’t. The rationalisation of services that on any sensible basis should be run regionally is good, as is the establishment of new regional fora such as the Social Issues Board which will bring central and local players together to co-ordinate social policy in the region. Mandated Maori representation is a bold step that will bring a tangata-whenua voice to the regional table where it has been sorely lacking.

As to the super-structure of the city itself (namely the abolishment of the existing territorial authorities and regional council, and their replacement with one council for the whole region governed by a directly elected mayor), any sane and attuned person would have to say that the time for debate on this is over. The government will accept this aspect of the report and there ain’t no going backward.

Instead of fighting over that dead duck, the left needs to align our core values with emerging community sentiment in Auckland and look at aspects of the proposal that can and should be changed. In line with this I would like to see us building a coalition of support for change in three key areas:

1) Changing the ‘at-large’ voting system
Ten of the super-city’s twenty three councilors will be elected under a region wide ‘at large’ vote. No Right Turn persuasively points out that this method of election inevitably leads to the concentration of power in the hands of the organised few. The new structure must be seen to be democratically mandated, and in a country that has accepted proportional representation as the fairest method of electing our parliament, at large voting seems a bizarre and un-democratic step. We should campaign strongly for either the region wide election to be run under either an appropriate proportional representation system, or to have the ten regionally elected members absorbed back into the wards.

2) Anti-privatisation
Matt McCarten rightly points out that the right have been assiduously peddling their privatisation agenda in the press recently, focusing in the first instance on Ports of Auckland. There can be no doubt that those who wish to see Auckland’s publicly owned assets hocked off to private interests, will see this re-organisation as a golden opportunity. Labour and the left should campaign vigorously to categorise all other significant regional assets alongside water services, which are identified in the Royal Commission report as needing to be protected in public ownership. This is unlikely to succeed, but at the least should put the new council on notice that a fire-sale of Auckland’s assets will not be tolerated.

3) Improved Local Representation
There is a real (and surprisingly bi-partisan) sentiment building that the proposed structure does not take sufficient account of the need for good local representation. Frankly I think there is a lot of bullshit being bandied around about how good it is now (seriously ask your neighbour to name the people on your community board), but that isn’t an excuse for trying to make it more meaningful under the new structure. My preferred option for dealing with this, under the broad parameters of the Royal Commission report, would be to seriously beef up the pay and resourcing that goes to the local councils that sit under the super-city. In each sub-city this would mean that you essentially get the same number of local councilors that you have now, shorn of some of the bigger picture responsibilities that are shot up to the super-city council, and focused full time on service delivery and advocacy in their local patch.
Naturally, some better proposals may emerge from the region and Labour would be wise to listen to these.

By focusing on these issues and not getting caught up in a debate about aspects of the proposal that are a fait-accompli, Labour and the left can emerge as a relevant force in the debate about Auckland’s future, and help to cement together the progressive interests that need to come together to fight regional elections next year. More on what’s needed in that area later.

12 comments on “How to approach Auckland”

  1. RedLogix 1

    One option that would get rid of the ‘elected at large’ problem is the idea of indirect elections.

    Local Councils could continue to be elected as now, and then those Councils members elect from their own ranks, a smaller group to serve on the Super Council, with a rotating Chairperson instead of a ‘Lord Mayor’.

    The Auckland would get the city wide governance it desperately needs, but the people serving on it would chosen from those with experience and credibility at a local level.

    • Ari 1.1

      Indirect elections are bad at the best of times, (They brought us the first term of George W. Bush, for instance) but compounding that by “kicking up” a single member of an elected body to a superior body is going to cause problems- mainly, the people kicked up will have a very good chance to be favourites of the majority factions on each council, stifling significant opposition in several local areas, or they’ll end up as centrists or unoriginal, ineffectual, and mostly harmless do-nothings who a split council can actually come to agreement on.

      Either of those tendencies are pretty bad. I’d say the ideal system is going proportional for the super-city and electing local councils in wards, with abolishing the “at-large voting” seats a second choice that may have practical advantages with the crowd that hate proportionality.

      Voting-at-large is generally one of those binary things: It has potential if EVERY member is chosen by at large voting, but it’s actually worse than straight FPP elections when mixed in with districting.

  2. rave 2

    How to approach Auckland?
    Well not with my head up Rodney’s ass.
    What is the problem that needs fixing pray tell that we need a super yacht I mean city? Who gives a fuck if we have to doff our caps when passing from Waitakere to Auckland?
    The only problem is the ARC and the assets that are still in public ownership. The ARC is already a regional government charged with providing infrastructure. Wonder why we just dont pass over the water, the airport, the port and Eden Park (sorry forgot Wellington has bought that) to the ARC. It wouldnt be too difficult to do PPPs for the lot while Aucklanders were asleep at the beach.
    No its a matter of principle. The ARC is a bolshie fragment of Poland and the Polish docks are like a running sore in the eyes of his fatuous lordship of Queen St. And the freakish gnome of Epsom wants shares in his waterways when he gets his suit wet. And the jumped up prick of Parnell wants to survey us all with one sweep.
    This is a none to devious way to abolish the ARC in the name of regional pride, Maori tokenism, and fuck you proles we want our moneybags.
    What is fait accompliism mister lean left?
    You grouch about a Lord Mayor and fptp and then say because we had a Royal Commission we are supposed to grovel before this bit of feudal tripe. Off with its head I say.
    On the other hand, I don’t want to end up in the tower, so lets rename Rodney Kaipara and then we can all lie down and die happy.

    captcha: waving condescendingly (you know who)

  3. Excellent points made here – with the key being that there’s a LOT OF GOOD THINGS in the royal commission’s report. Much of the “big stuff” is right – like one district plan, one rates bill, on transport agency (oh thank god for that) and one council. The main debatable points relate to how many local councils should there be, how the councils should be elected and so forth. I think the 11 council option is far better than the 6 council option, and should be explored further. I also agree with the councillor split and voting system that both No Right Turn and Kiwiblog seem to agree upon.

    Heck if those two can agree on something it must be perfect.

    My other main worry is who will do the environmental advocacy role that the ARC currently does? Who will keep the councils honest when they come up with plan changes and the like, if it is a regional-wide council actually coming up with these plans and plan changes?

  4. Gareth 4

    Some good stuff, especially around retaining the super-structure but strengthening local representation and elections run in something approaching a modern democratic manner. I still think a 20-odd Borough model, divided into 4-6 “operational regions” that have a shared services centre providing the operational tasks and the Auckland Council overall would be a good model.

    But please, drop the “left-vs-right” partisanship on this. This is critically important to the future of my city, and I’d rather it didn’t descend it to bullshit “you’re a bloody socialist; fascist’s trying to sell my water” slanging match. Labour and “the left” should approach this in the manner that delivers the best model for their values – not in the way that best serves their political interest.

  5. Joshua 5

    I think there’s potential for some left/right agreement on the good things and bad things that have come of the Royal Commission’s report. There’s general agreement that a strengthened regional body is critical, and that the Auckland Council is probably a good idea. Nobody seems to be arguing for the status quo.

    There’s also general agreement that regionalising transport, water and other important pieces of infrastructure is a good idea.

    There’s also general agreement that local representation might be lacking in what is proposed by the Royal Commission. How that issue is sorted out remains to be seen, but people from the left and the right appear worried about unequal representation, the loss of community boards (or something similar to them) and generally the way in which “local councils” have been put together.

    That’s certainly more agreement than we see on most issues, so I can hope we’ll have a good outcome here.

  6. Gareth 6

    Has anyone come across an organised group lobbying for more low-level representation in the plan? As I understand it there’s little political room for such advocacy now, but even a media or letter-to-your-MP type group?

  7. rave 7

    Do you guys seriously think that the people of Auckland will have any say in how the supercity is set up? The RC was a jackup by business interests. The parameters are set in concrete. A super city with executive mayor (CEO) and a board of directors elected at large (shareholders).
    The current “conversation” is about the shade of lipstick on the whore.
    Ask yourself why the ARC was not empowered to do the job that the the supercity will do? Reason is that the ARC has a history of protecting the environment and key infrastructural assets from privatisation.
    Prove to me that this is not a cynical exercise in euthanazing the ARC to prepare the ports, airport, water, rail etc for privatisation.

    Yeah there is no prospect for turning this decision around. The resistance will have to be directed at preventing privatizations and putting the provision of public services and infrastructure under direct workers control.

  8. … you mean apart from every Community Board in Auckland, who are going to be knocked out of existence soon?

  9. Gareth 9

    Yes I do. I mean a group one can be a part of, should one so choose.

  10. Paul 10

    How to approach Auckland? You don’t, the best beaches are on the Coromandel.

  11. Rich 11

    Direct elections for a council leader are inherently undemocratic as the elected person will only have the full support of a minority of the electorate (even with STV). FPP is even worse as they will typically only have the grudging support of a plurality, who were forced to choose between two front runners. (Banks and Hubbard for example – I had no wish to vote for either).

    If the council leader (or Mayor, if you must) was elected by the councillors (who should be elected by a proportional system, either open list or MMP) then they would have to gain the support of a majority of the electorate, just as the PM has to have half of Parliament behind them.

    I’d also suggest that the whole process should be bottom-up not top down. Community councils should have a charter setting out what they can do. If the people in a community want to extend or reduce this, they should be able to. If they want to leave Greater Auckland and become a unitary authority, or align to another district like Waikato, they should have that choice as well.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Reducing road deaths a priority for Labour
      Labour’s transport policy prioritises action to cut the rapidly rising death toll on our roads, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood, after new figures show the road toll on track to increase for the fourth consecutive year.  “We simply ...
    7 hours ago
  • Labour to build starter homes and state houses in Palmerston North
    Labour will build 149 homes – a mix of KiwiBuild starter homes for first homebuyers and state houses – on land that National has left vacant for years, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Palmerston North is a growing, ...
    1 day ago
  • A Green deal for small business
    Behind the rhetoric of being ‘business-friendly’, the National government has prioritised the interests of big business and foreign corporations over small business. The Green Party considers that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy, opportunities, and ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 days ago
  • Labour’s transport plan will get New Zealand moving
    Labour’s transport policy will create an integrated, 21st century transport system to move people and freight around New Zealand. As a priority we will act to immediately stop work on National’s plan to de-electrify the North Island Main Trunk Line, ...
    2 days ago
  • Farming leaders pledge to clean up New Zealand rivers
    Labour welcomes a pledge by the Farmers Leaders Group to make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for our children and grandchildren, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker.   “The farmers’ leaders say they have come together for the first time to ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour pays tribute to Peter Dunne
    Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern has today paid tribute to United Future leader Peter Dunne, who announced he would no longer be standing in the 2017 General Election. “Today I acknowledge the significant contribution by Peter Dunne over 33 ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour is the only party with a plan to fix teacher shortage
    Only Labour has a comprehensive plan to fix the critical shortage of teachers that is already hampering our schools and is set to get worse after nine years of inaction by the National Government, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour to invest in regional road rail
    Labour will invest in a rapid rail network connecting Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga, and double funding to help complete important regional roading projects, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga contains half ...
    3 days ago
  • Rattled Nats announce slapdash roads policy
      The Government rattled by the polls, has announced a poorly thought through slapdash policy for new Roads of National Significance, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood.  “There is a complete lack of any answers in National’s plan to build ...
    4 days ago
  • Let’s do this – Labour’s election campaign launched
    The Government I lead will be a government that listens, then acts. A Government that leads, not follows, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern at the launch of the Labour Party’s 2017 election campaign at a packed Auckland Town Hall. “I ...
    4 days ago
  • Government must apologise over rebuild debacle
    The Prime Minister owes the public of Otago and Southland an apology and then he must come up with an unredacted copy of the business case for the Dunedin hospital rebuild, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. "For too long the interests of ...
    6 days ago
  • Government caves to multi-national tax avoiders in the shadows
    News that the Government has secretly caved in to the demands of multi-national tax avoiders come as no surprise, but will disappoint Kiwi taxpayers, says Labour’s spokesman for Revenue Michael Wood.   “It has been revealed that a United States ...
    7 days ago
  • Cheaper to stay at The Langham than emergency housing motels
    Labour’s comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis and ensure there’s enough state housing, means we won’t be paying through the nose for emergency accommodation like the current Government has to, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “National has ...
    1 week ago
  • Government must come clean on water
      News that the National Government is secretly working behind closed doors on its own water charging schemes shows their utter hypocrisy on this issue, says Labour’s water spokesperson David Parker.  “They have been carping on about Labour’s plan for ...
    1 week ago
  • Government pays twice the price for emergency housing motels – with two more on the way
    Under Labour’s plan to build at least 1000 state houses each year, New Zealand wouldn’t be paying more than double the valuations for motels to house Kiwis needing emergency housing, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “Under questioning today, ...
    1 week ago
  • HAM shows country needs Labour on housing
    The latest Housing Affordability Measure report shows affordability dramatically worsening for Auckland first home buyers, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury kids get more support for mental health
    Children in Canterbury and Kaikoura will get dedicated mental health support to help them overcome the trauma of the earthquakes, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We’ll fund an extra eighty mental health professionals for the next three ...
    1 week ago
  • Statement on Julie Bishop’s comments
    It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party. I have been utterly transparent about this situation. I stand by my statements this morning that I ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour stands with Pike families
    A Labour Government will stand with the families of Pike River and reaffirm its commitment to safe workplaces by ensuring there will be a Minister responsible for Pike River, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “The Pike River disaster ...
    1 week ago
  • Yes to Sallies – Labour will build more state houses
    The Salvation Army’s latest report ‘Taking Stock’ shows why New Zealand needs a Labour-led Government committed to a massive house building programme, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “When the Sallies say the country needs 2000 extra state houses a ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealanders deserve better than scaremongering over water
    New Zealanders need to hear from National about how they will fund the clean-up of our rivers and lakes for future generations. Instead, National has broadened its scare-mongering, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    1 week ago
  • School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip young people for adult life
    Labour will give school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a new School Leavers’ Toolkit, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children ...
    1 week ago
  • Pay equity to be a priority for Labour
      Labour will make sure that the country’s mental health workers are a priority when it comes to pay equity negotiations, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “It is very important for me to right the wrong created ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s positive education plan
    Today’s announcement on learning support is more tinkering and proof that only a Labour Government will deliver the resources that schools and parents are crying out for, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “We have a positive vision for a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pike footage raises questions over government’s actions
    The Government’s seeming determination to turn a blind eye to new questions about what happened at Pike River Mine is troubling, says Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Solution to rent rises lies in building houses and stopping speculators
    The spread of rental increases from the big cities to the surrounding regions shows why we need to get on top of the housing shortage build homes our families can afford, and lock out the speculators, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean rivers don’t cost $18 a cabbage
    National is falling into a bad pattern of promising the world and not saying how they will fund it, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for honest answer on transport funding
    National needs to explain how they will fund the $6 billion funding gap in their 10-year Auckland transport plan, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for true numbers on overseas speculators
    It’s time for the Government to give accurate figures on the number of houses being bought by overseas speculators, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Raymond Huo. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fair and sustainable trade: A Green Party vision for New Zealand’s trading relationships
    Trade is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy. It provides us with the things we want and need, and enables us to pay for those with exports that generate business opportunities and jobs. However, it should be recognised that ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean rivers for future generations
    Labour will lead a nationwide effort to restore our rivers and lakes to a clean, swimmable state, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand really can do better on health
    Labour’s commitment to affordable access to high quality healthcare will provide a better service for New Zealanders than the current Health Minister, who will not apologise for statements that he made that wrongly criticised hard-working staff in the Southern DHB’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan the answer to motorway chaos
    Labour’s plan to build a light rail network and improve heavy rail and bus services across Auckland is the only answer to the kind of motorway congestion Aucklanders endured this morning, says Labour Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to build rail to Auckland Airport
    A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Let’s get Auckland moving ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Is pay equity just too hard for this Govt?
    You are hard pressed these days to find someone that openly admits their misogyny, that men should still be paid more than women. Politicians proclaim that they want to see women paid more, but do their actions back it up? ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s commitment to our Rainbow nation
    The Labour Party has reaffirmed its commitment to New Zealand’s rainbow community with its 2017 Rainbow policy, featuring the goal to end HIV in New Zealand by 2025. Grant Robertson says Labour continues a long and proud tradition of advocating ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s vision for Auckland more than reheated roads
    Labour is more ambitious for Auckland than the reheated set of transport projects proposed by National, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Waiting urology patients are the tip of the iceberg
    The 10 patients waiting for urology surgery at Dunedin Hospital are just the tip of the iceberg, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.  "Hundreds of patients are waiting for follow-up appointments, but they are not deemed serious enough to be ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Maori Landowners Misled by Maori Party
    Māori landowners are being misled by Government hui being held throughout the country promoting the troubled Māori Land Service (MLS), which underpins the Crown’s unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago

%d bloggers like this: