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.

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  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

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