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Last night’s Super City meeting

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, May 21st, 2009 - 22 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, national/act government - Tags: , ,


I attended the Paula Bennett-John Carter Supercity meeting yesterday evening in Kelston. This was one of the hastily arranged series of meetings arranged in the Auckland area to persuade ordinary jafas and westies that this Government is really listening and living up to its election promise to consult on the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance’s recommendations.

It seems that the Government has been spooked by the extent and depth of opposition to the Hide proposal to essentially gut Auckland’s local government. Paula Bennett is particularly spooked. Her Waitakere seat probably hosts the most vociferous opposition to the Government’s proposal and her majority is shaky. This one issue could cost her the seat. I am not surprised that she was the one to make a statement suggesting that more thought should go into the proposal, particularly on how local Council funded grass roots projects could continue to be funded.

The meeting was reasonably well attended. There were about 120 people attending. Few if any opinions were changed. The meeting started and ended with about two thirds opposing the Government’s proposals.

The PR effort was impressive. John Carter is a good choice for the role. He can speak with a certain amount of authority and has this very good line that everything is on the table, people should make their submissions and these will be considered carefully.

Maori seats presented a particularly angsty issue for Carter and Bennett. The words they used made it sound like they were supportive of Maori being given a choice. They neatly sidestepped the fact that the Royal Commission had Maori representation in and National took it out. Maori seats are up for grabs but without overwhelming support for them you can guess what the result will be.

John Tamihere and Te Whanau o Waipareira showed up and stole the show, unfurling a ‘No Super City without Maori’ banner on the stage. Paula seemed to enjoy it. I wonder what this can mean?

The Nats were nice, they listened, they said everything was on the table. But they did not answer questions. They could not say why they were breaking their election promise to consult, they could not say how many jobs would be lost, they could not say how much the establishment costs would be per ratepayer nor how much more westies would pay for wastewater. They said that the estimates put to them were wrong but did not know what the figures would or should be.

The overwhelming feeling I received from the meeting was that the Nats do not know what the effect of the reorganisation will be, they will be listening very carefully to everything that will be said but change may not happen, they do not know what the costs will be, but the timeline is not negotiable. By August this year they intend that everything to be set in stone.


22 comments on “Last night’s Super City meeting ”

  1. Phil Twyford 1

    Check out the caption competition for a pic from the meeting at http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/05/21/caption-competition/ There are some funny suggestions.

    IrishBill: Nobody likes a linkwhore, Phil.

    • felix 1.1

      I think you must have linked to the wrong page, Phil. There are no funny suggestions on that one.

  2. Pat 2

    “But they did not answer questions.”

    To clarify: Are you saying they refused to answer any questions, or to take any questions from the floor?

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    “Paula seemed to enjoy it. I wonder what this can mean?”

    I’ve always thought that this issue is the one NACT will back down on. Hard not to, coalition wise, and backing down on something will be good politics.

    • Pat 3.1

      I agree that a compromise on the Maori Seats would fit with Key’s MO.

      • gobsmacked 3.1.1

        I’m not sure how they can compromise though.

        It’s not the usual political negotiations (i.e. we’ll give you half of what you want). If the principle of separate seats for Maori is wrong, then it’s wrong if there are three, two, one, any number at all.

        If the principle is conceded, why have only one (or two, etc …)?

        They could just end up annoying everyone, and in particular, the Maori Party.

        • wtl

          They did mention that the Maori seats could be ‘appointed’ (rather than elected) – this seems like a really bad idea to me, and hopefully it is not something the Maori party would support.

  4. They avoided the important questions, like why they are breaching their election policy to consult with Auckland on the Royal Commission’s recommendations, how much will it cost to implement, how many jobs will be lost, will Waitakere wastwater charges really go up by $700.

    The question concerning consultation was asked on a number of occasions but avoided completely.

    To be fair a number of questions were invited and some answered and there was a great deal of interaction between Carter and the crowd. But it appeared to me it was intended to give the impression of consultation rather than being an attempt to enter into a meaningful dialogue about the proposed changes.

    • Pat 4.1

      Tamahere’s segment on Radio Live starts shortly, so it will be interesting to here his take on the meeting (unless Jackson wants to focus only on Veitch).

  5. notreallyalawyer 5

    Te Whanau o Waipareira have a coherent message – we will support the reform if there are Maori seats. Since the opponents of reform have demanded consultation maybe it’s time to do likewise.

    My bet is there will be Maori seats – which I support. The second bill is coming up time to start being constructive.

  6. Natpicker 6

    Seems to me the seminal issue for Keys National party is how they manage their coalition partners, ACT is particular. It would appear that Keys crew got elected this time on the back of south and west Auckland voters failing to turn out to vote (as opposed to voting for National). Seems to me that ACT are actually arrogant and pernicious enough to sacrifice Nationals hopes of a second term for the short term interests of their core constituancy. Beware the anger of the Westies and Pacifica, Cant wait to see if Jonkee has the balls, and is astute enough…..

  7. Thanks for the feedback on the meeting micky. It certainly is good to hear that the Nats are willing to listen.

    I think it is essential that as many people as possible are encouraged to make submissions on the Super-City bill and that they’re educated about how to read the bill and what it all actually means. I am attempting to make a start on that myself.

    What happens if there are 20,000 submissions? The select committee will have to sit 24/7.

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    Good to see 2 ministers there, they know they need to deliver when the next two bills go through. I have no idea why Hide was chosen to run this, its the whacko right wing ideas of ACT that is terrifying everyone.

  9. wtl 9

    I too attended the meeting… There was a lot of talk about consultation and listening to submissions, and it was quite well handled by John Carter. Paula Bennett didn’t say much and I thought she seemed a little condescending at times. However, as micky says, there were some key questions left unanswered or answered answered poorly. In particularly, questions over the cost and whether there would be a referendum. At the end he parroted out Hide’s excuse for having no referendum (‘what would the question be’?).

    I think they did go some way to allaying fears, their promises of consultation seemed quite genuine. However, in seriousness, given the time frame involved I don’t think there is any way that these issues can be dealt with properly. They said that the local boards could be as big or small as the residents in the affected areas wanted (e.g. there could be one for the whole Waitakere city, or one for just Devonport or Waiheke), and their powers would be up to us. But I’m not sure how on earth you could (1) make decisions such as this based on the submissions, as the submissions are likely to be very varied; and (2) how different sized local boards (with different powers?) would work in practice. My feeling is that there there will be a lot of different submissions, and the submissions will be varied enough that they could come up with the plan they want, and then say that ‘it agrees with some submissions but of course we couldn’t go with everyone’s suggestions’. Plus, since they will not allow a referendum, there is no onus to ensure that the final proposal will be supported by the majority of Auckland residents.

    At the end of the day, I feel that ‘Compressed Select Committee’ process is NOT going to provide enough time for there issues to be sorted out, and the whole process is too rushed to allow meaningful consultation. Despite the promises given, I agree they are giving an appearance of consultation, but I’m not sure our opinions and submissions will really count at the end.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.1

      If the local board were to cover the whole of Waitakere, why bother dissolving the council?

  10. schrodigerscat 10

    From the submissions to the Royal Commission we have


    Mayoral election by public or by councillors
    7.2 The Call for Submissions document asked whether the chair or mayor of a regional
    governance body should be directly elected. By a ratio of 2:1 submitters preferred to
    retain the non-elected chair rather than adopt an elected mayoralty.
    7.3 Submitters who supported the status quo seemed generally to be satisfied with the
    way the system works at present. They saw the election of a mayor or chair by councillors
    as a way to avoid dysfunctional decision making. They said that councillors knew better
    than the public who was the best potential mayor. In a direct election, they foresaw
    ratepayers voting for “fading sportspersons, TV personalities and the like’, who would not
    be effective in the job.


    And still they came out for at large mayoral elections. This does not increase my faith in the attention that will be paid to submissions on how Auckland should be governed.

    I wonder if we can stop paying these people until they start doing the job properly.

  11. edoze2 11

    am i still banned?

  12. exbrethren 12

    Interesting piece and great photo in The Aucklander. This publication seems to be owned by the same interests as The Herald.

  13. edoze 13

    Oh great, so now that you have allowed me to post again, do you care to tell me what i did wrong?

    • lprent 13.1

      Nothing. We’d have said on one of your comments. You’re getting caught in some kind of glitch in the auto-moderation. I’m looking at it now.
      (sub-text: not everything is about you….)

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