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Key gambles with Aucklanders’ future

Written By: - Date published: 11:51 am, July 27th, 2010 - 53 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, john key, local body elections, local government - Tags:

John Key glibly admitted yesterday that the Supercity is “risky”. We’ve been saying it all along and the evidence is all that the Supercity will be expensive, unrepresentative, and unresponsive to local needs. So, if it’s so risky, why the hell is Key doing it?

Where is the promise of benefit to outweigh the costs (which Rodney Hide once said will be minuscule and are now in the hundreds of millions of dollars)? Like Zetetic asked yesterday: ‘where’s their evidence?’

Where is the Nats and Act’s evidence that the Supercity will improve the lives of the people of Auckland? We’ve had all kinds of spurious, vague promises but where’s the evidence to back them up?

I think those promises of growth and better transport are reliable as Hide’s promises that the change over would be cheap.

And if Key is now admitting that forming the Supercity is a risk we have to ask a) why the rush and b) why didn’t Aucklanders get to decide whether it was a risk they wanted to take.

You’ll recall that Key and Hide took the 800 page Royal Commission Report on Auckland, tore most of it up and produced a lightweight, vague document in a matter of weeks with no research behind it and no detail to follow. Then, they passed legislation under Extraordinary Urgency that denied Aucklanders the right that everyone has under the Local Government Act to a referendum when council mergers are proposed.

The Supercity is a huge risk, a potential disaster. Aucklanders deserved to be able to make an informed choice on whether to take it. Instead, our money trader, our middle management banker turned PM, decided he would take the gamble. And, just like in money trading, it’s the ordinary people, not Key and his mates who will pay if he has bet wrong.

There is, however, one choice he didn’t take away from the people of Auckland (as he did from the people of Canterbury). Aucklanders will still get to choose who governs the Supercity that has been imposed on them.

53 comments on “Key gambles with Aucklanders’ future ”

  1. zimmer 1

    The Labour version would also be just as risky, there is always risk in undertaking tasks like this. To think otherwise is just plain nievity.

    • Kevin Welsh 1.1

      So you’re saying that Labour would have bypassed the consultation process, ignored the Royal Commission Report, not held a referendum and passed this under urgency?

      • burt 1.1.1

        precedent says Labour would have done whatever was in their best interests to get re-elected. (or to excuse them from accountability when the AG said they broke the law)

      • ZB 1.1.2

        No, he’s saying Labour would be worse than National, instead of a few getting huge tax cuts and the many all paying more to cover them. Labour would be worse! The few would pay more tax and the many would get richer. Think about that for a second, how awful, having to share the shopping malls with riff raff! Its take them thirty years to get the economy running right, where only the choosen few can afford to consume. Neo-liberalism is great!

    • ZB 1.2

      What has this to do with Labour? Your favored party hey? who you think are so great they’d be no better or worse than National! Geez, grow a backbone! Browning your nose again I see.

      Its pretty simple, Burma, has no freedom of speach and large multinational companies come and go as they please. Whereas we have a free press and huge debts. Now I was taught that a free press were supposed to provide a check on the avarice of the stupidly greedy who selflessly trash the common wealth for our ‘economic good’, trust them. Now we should be more like Burma, they don’t consult about a super city, the chosen Randian few don’t pay taxes, the press actually works in Burma to support the economy by keeping silent and not pressing home neo-liberal shit. Wouldn’t it just be easier to have a military dictatorship here without this pathethic glee club show trying to pass off a Democratic process over the stupid city.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Playing devil’s advocate, I do believe that the majority of Aucklanders want a supercity in general (although possibly not NACT’s or any other particular vision for one), so spending money on a referendum with a foregone conclusion is a waste of money.

    • lprent 2.1

      Sure most Aucklanders probably want a super-city, just to get around some of the regional development issues. However it would have been more like a revamped ACC without the idiotic vetos that made it ineffective.

      The referendum would have been on differing implementations of the super-city. The Royal Commission had several alternative implementations after going through extensive consultation. Essentially they came back with what Aucklanders thought would work. Which was a ACC regional type structure.

      However the NACTs essentially ignored all of those to come up with their piss-arse legislation. They literally imposed an solution on Auckland that we’re bloody sure won’t work effectively. It was another act of ideological stupidity by this idiotic government. They rammed it through parliament using urgency, and ignored the select committee submissions (where they held them at all).

      The only hope that NACT had of legitimizing heir plan would have been to front up and let Aucklanders vote on it or to have some real consultation. Since they knew that they wouldn’t win that debate, they tried an evasion. They’re going to get shafted for it in the next election – especially after the rate rises come in next year to pay for this idiotic over-centralization.

      Rodney Hide and Act in particular are history unless they win a seat outside of Auckland. Good riddance to ideological nitwits is all I can say.

      • burt 2.1.1


        Both major parties behave like this in govt, that’s not making it right though. As fas as passing innefective or shabby legislation to push an agenda is concerned the only issue is that partisan people defend it in their team and complain about the other team. The day when the first consideration is the legislation rather than the team passing it is the day this situation will start to change.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Ah, no burt, they don’t. Labour, despite being centre right, does as a matter of fact base their decisions on research. Whereas National and Act both base their decisions on their beliefs – all of which have been empirically proven false.

          • burt

            Yes of course dear, that’s right. Labour good, National bad.

            (research = internal polling to make sure it won’t effect the next election in a negative way….)

            • george

              I don’t think that you can say everything Labour does is good Burt. I agree with you that they are generally better than National but you sound like an ideologue when you make such a black and white statement.

              • Draco T Bastard

                He is an ideologue – a RWNJ in fact.

                • burt

                  So I said that National and Labour are much the same in this regard and you said that Labour are good and I’m the nut job. Do mirrors really scare you Draco ?

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    No, mirrors don’t scare me. Not like the truth and fact scares you.

          • Rharn

            Absolutely. Nat and Act policies are ideological driven. Just look at the National Standards that is being pursued on the basis that it will improve our children’s education when research overwhelmingly shows that it will not.

            • burt

              Yes compare that to the complete calm and acceptance that NCEA had when it was implemented… No dissent there was there…

              A muppet has a better memory than most people who just base their position on the colour of the party logo making the changes.

              • Zaphod Beeblebrox

                Good proposals will always attract dissent- nothing wrong with that. NCEA is actually a really well researched and thought out system that seems to be standing the test of time. Don’t see Tolley acting to reform it despite all her bluster in opposition.

                One of the criticisms of the Supercity is that the has been no evidence-based rationale for anything that has been proposed. If you know of some studies or paralell cohort analyses that support anything that has been done (Toronto? Graeter London? Ottawa? for eg) I would be interested to see.

                The ever changing rationale (sort of like the justification for invading Iraq really) back of the envelope calculations which are later downgraded to estimates and fact that they needed a massive number of amendments (over five hundred from memory) to fix the mistakes of the Auckland Bill when drafting the Auckland Act tell you everything.

              • logie97

                berk. just as an aside – NCEA was introduced by National – what is your point? – the can for their poor implementation was carried by the last government. And while we’re at it, what about separating your argument as well? NCEA is secondary level – and business driven. Standards is primary level (but seemingly still business driven).

                • Poor implementation nothing. NCEA is a fantastic system.

                  • logie97

                    take a deep breath Christopher. The system may well be wonderful. It’s introduction in the 90’s was apparently a shambles and took many years of refining for which the last administration took the “caning”.

        • lprent

          Yeah? You’re deluding yourself. I’ll only bother with one example because you only seem to be able to deal with one idea at time (exhaustively and retrospectively)….

          As an exercise go and count the number of times and number of hours that the labour led governments from 1999-2008 used urgency in the house. Then have a look at how many hours and time the NACTs have used it in 2009.

          Tell me how you can justify that crap…

          Urgency is meant to be used for a particular purpose. Specifically for passing time sensitive legislation where ambiguity will cause external issues. However NACT views it as a way of shutting down debate on the their questionable ideologically driven stupid legislation.

          • burt


            No argument about urgency. Look at some previous comments I have made about the use of urgency, if you can find any partisan support for urgency (other than piss taking the “It’s OK when Labour do it” brigade) then I’ll donate $1 to the standard for every time I have done that. I have been told there was nothing to see about urgency many times when the red team were doing it – so be a total tool pretending I can’t understand more than one issue if you need to prop yourself that way – but the facts speak for themself on urgency.

            • Draco T Bastard

              burt, this may come as a surprise but urgency is a valid necessary part of government. National and Act abuse it. The left leaning parties don’t.

              But I don’t really expect you to understand that as it goes against your beliefs.

            • burt

              The left leaning parties don’t.

              And you call me a nut job….

  3. marsman 3

    heard Key on the radio yesterday saying the supercity would be more efficient and cheaper to run.(!) But we all know he’s a liar and the whole thing should be called The Supercity Scam.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 3.1

      Interesting that eficiency and cheapness were never the criteria mentioned after the RC findings were released and the rejected.

      Then again, it would have been bit hard to argue that totally dismantling all the existing structures and trying to start from nothing was ever going to be efficient.

      Anyway its good he’s finally admitted that we are getting the cheap and crappy version rather than anything of any quality.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        It may be the cheap and crappy version but it’s going to cost us an arm and a leg.

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox

          I had a car like that once. My mechanic put his children through private school as I never could admit my mistake buying it and I needed it to get to work. I never added up what I spent fixing it but it probably will have put back my retirement five years.

          We’ll never know how much stuffing up Auckland’s governance has and will cost our economy, but each little bit we have to fix will be a constant drain on all NZers.

          • comedy

            Auckland, North Shore, Manukau, Waitakere – have stuffed governance at present, rates go up every year services change very little and we get a variety of twats of differing political persuasions in power all looking after themselves and their mates and playing loose and fast with the long suffering ratepayers coin- will this change under a super city fat chance it will be the same old gormless bureaucrats and a mayor chosen from a line up of buffoons………. spray them with hippo pheromones and chain the lot of them up in the enclosure at the zoo.

            • Zaphod Beeblebrox

              Auckland…stuffed…definitely…..North Shore….perhaps. Manukau and Waitakere well.. they have had very stable councils (and mayors) that keep getting re-elected keep rolling out new libraries, sports facilities, social services etc… Waitakere even has its own film studios.

              Don’t think we need to tar everyone with the C and R/Auckland City/ARC disaster.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Key gambles with Aucklanders’ future

    Well, DUH! We already knew that – he had Rodney Hide design the new authoritarian government structure for it.

    b) why didn’t Aucklanders get to decide whether it was a risk they wanted to take.

    Dictators (NACT) don’t ask – it gets in the way of them doing what they want and in this case that means selling off all of Auckland’s assets to themselves and their rich mates.

  5. Jim Nald 5

    Hah …
    Dear Auckland voters, collectively, … you will need to wake up.
    So you gave the show donkey your votes and he has been gambling away your political capital for himself. The risks and losses are borne by you.
    And the rest of NZ will be held to ransom to bail you out.

  6. Rharn 6

    Frankly all of the Nat/Act policies are a risk.

  7. deemac 7

    wonder if the bookies are offering odds on the supercity actually saving money? I’d fancy a punt on costs going up!

  8. Bored 8

    The whole big is beautiful argument really needs examination particularly with regard to local body politics. Super city in my mind equates to distance from and under representation by elected representatives. Add to this Hide (and the nats) determination to hoof off with the silver (aka any assetts still owned by the ratepayers) and its a bad deal all round. All I smell is larceny and a power grab. Its not a gamble, its a rort.

  9. Firsttimereader 9

    The royal commission did a lot of research. That’s what the basis of the supercity is. Any move of this size is risky. If labour had done what the royal commission asked for it would still be very risky.

    • Bored 9.1

      The Royal Commission from what I understand did as you say a lot of research without ever reaching any unanimity about the desired outcome. Hide by comparison knew exactly what his backers wanted, power to drive political / economic agendas and control over assets so as to sieze them for private purposes.

      What is very obvious now is that the people of Auckland are thoroughly divided over the whole issue, nobody has a clear mandate. In these circumstances it would be highly suspect politically for any interest group to ram through changes to their own benefit. Without that mandate the status quo is a preferable option.

      • Firsttimereader 9.1.1

        yeah that’s why support for the national government is at an all time low in auckland, because voters aren’t giving the government a mandate.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      It would still have been risky but at least it would have been well researched and it wouldn’t have been rushed. Unlike the NACT process that wasn’t researched at all and pushed through as fast as as possible.

  10. ZakC 10

    evidence.. you ask for.. where’s the evidence.?

    And the answer mon amis is: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.. see !

    But of course, neither are ye judge and jury on this case.. or are ye?

    One thing for certain arises.. that neither the PM nor his Minister of Local Government are Keynes fans. For if they were they would know his learning: namely that those who mess with a stable structure to make a riskier bet (a la casino in style) will attain the job ill-done.

    • burt 10.1


      But to adhere to maintenance of the stable structure because all restructure is risky creates the ineffective bloated model that eventually ties itself up in its own importance and becomes ineffective. Balance and process, both have been lacking but that’s not one in the same issue with the need to restructure stable but ineffective governance.

      The identification of the requirement for change was not Nationals, the implementation is.

  11. Gooner 11

    Why didn’t you reproduce the speech and comments of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane?

    I know why.

    He’s a glass half full person, and most here are glass half empty types.

    • loota 11.1

      Not only is the glass half empty, some people are determined to let private enterprise sell for profit what little water remains!!!

      • burt 11.1.1

        The glass is as full or empty as you imagine it in a socialist nirvana. Please please don’t put me on a water meter, I’ll need to stop watering my 1/2 acre of gardens over summer. God forbid I need an expensive unsightly rain water collection system destroying the clean lines of my kiwi dream. Please let the people in neighbourhoods with dead cars rather than trees on their lawn keep subsidising the watering of my garden.

        • loota

          I should say that in contrast, a capitalist nirvana only holds enlightenment for 5% of the population, another 10-15% find it vaguely tolerable, the remainign 80% are frakked.

          “You load 16 tons and what do you get…another day older and deeper in debt”

          • Jim Nald

            With the Government led by John Key

            so far, I can only see

            New Zealand on track for economic nirvana

            befitting that of a republic of banana.

      • Armchair Critic 11.1.2

        Having noted that only half the glass is in use, National are legislating to privatise the unused half of the glass. This will free up unused capacity and make the glass more efficient.
        The only issue left to sort out is whether the glass should be cut vertically or horizontally. If the glass is cut horizontally, you get to keep the top half and the bottom half will be sold.
        In any case you get to keep the water.

        • Jim Nald

          That’s clever!
          Thanks to John Key’s fresh approach, banana nirvana here we come.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 11.2

      Get in quick and you make some money from that water!

  12. tc 12

    The comment about Sideshow and Hideous gambling with other folks services / infrastructure / communities sums it up and fits the M.O. of NACT whereby the agenda was known before election 08 and we’re seeing it being executed using urgency and that good old fashioned arrogance muldoon would be proud of.

    Aside from all this is the fact that councils are now blowing money as a last hurrah and F’You to Hide and Co….I came home last night to find my street having perfectly fine footpaths and driveways being replaced and not one of the workers knows why…..thanks Wodney you plonker.

  13. RobertM 13

    I’ve been living in Auckland for 7mths and it is a gamble, particularly with the probability that Len Brown will win and make the city even more suburban and pacific oriented.
    The justification for the super city is transport coordination but I doubt that either the rights idea of more motorways or the lefts of electrified light rail and a underground city loop linking low cost apartments, is the answer .Both are too expensive and extravagant.
    To me Waitakere, North Shore, Auckland and Manakau represent four distinct cultural and geographical areas and would probably have been best left seperate, particularly as the demography of the super city means power will be ceded to left everywhere in the city. Maybe Hide is clueless and Laila Harre had a clue.
    Good public tranport in Auckland does not extend furthur than the city buses running on the old tram and trolley bus routes. Rather than an extravagant rail system it might have been far better to relay the l950 tram network and extend it ofn 4ft 8 inch gauge to the Airport from Onhenugha and eventually on a new bridge to the North Shore.
    But really I view Len Brown as having even worse ideas than Rodney. The Len Brown idea seems to be the social worker police state, creati ng jobs for ordianry people and restricting alcohol and entertainment licences particularly in the inner and polynesian suburbs. It surely will make Auckland even less exciting to international talent and take us back to pre l967.

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