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Local govt is on the move

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, January 6th, 2014 - 51 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, local government - Tags: ,

Under this NAct Government, local government is increasing in size from smaller units to bigger. Does this matter ? On a personal level, I think it does – it has the effect of removing the “local” from our democratic processes, and makes it difficult for people other than the wealthy to become local councillors.

To quote from the Local Government NZ website Voter turnout – what’s the story?

The historic trend in New Zealand is for voters in councils with small populations to turnout in much higher proportions to voters in centres with large populations. This may be because people have more information about the candidates or it may be because they feel more engaged with their councils than do citizens in large centres.

On a more practical level, it definitely matters.

People are sold the story that amalgamating several smaller councils into one will lead to increased efficiencies, less cost, and presumably lower rates.

In 2012, the NAct Government changed the broad purpose of the Local Government Act 2002 covering social, economic, cultural, environment well-being instead

..to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.

But overseas research where similar amalgamations have taken place (there is little research in NZ on this matter) shows (International Experience of Local Government Amalgamation Exercises for The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance 19 Jan 2008.)

It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that no definitive answers concerning the economic outcomes of amalgamation exist and these arguments do not have a strong evidential base, despite their frequent usage.

And there is more.

The removal of funding and local input into decision-making which affects that local area.

Reading the new unitary local government proposal for Northland – four councils into one, with a base in Whangarei- the language used is disturbing. It appears the actual Council (10 people) will have the power to make all decisions, but the community boards and the Maori boards may only recommend, report, provide information, advise, be a governance body for parks, libraries, etc, etc but not make any actual decisions which affect their local people.

The Northland Council’s obligations to the various community boards will be to provide them with information (and some funding), consult them on issues relating to that area, and seek their advice on council-wide plans and other strategies.   There will be no obligation – as far as I can make out from the draft proposal – for the Northland Council to actually take into account that advice.

Effectively – the new Northland Council will become so remote from its people and the communities it is meant to serve, that it will be able to do anything it likes

As Waitakare Board member Greg Presland has found out – there is not much “power” in the local boards set up under the Auckland super city model. When commenting on the Government’s block offer release for oil exploration offshore from Auckland’s West Coast, Greg Presland (a Waitakere Ranges Local Board member) says

the Auckland Council did not tell the Waitakere Ranges Local Board about the proposal despite … the Board’s area includes most of Auckland’s west coast…… even though the draft submission was discussed with Iwi

A similar proposal for amalgamation is happening right now in the Hawkes Bay, Napier region, and Wellington/Waiarapa and Whanganui will have proposals put to them by the Local Government Commission some time later this year.

So – if people are worried about the demise of their local councils, what can they do about it?

If the Local Government Commission decides to issue a final proposal abolishing and merging existing councils, then there is a 60 day window in which electors in one or more of the affected districts can call for a binding poll on the Commission’s final proposal.  The binding poll must be held across the entire area affected by the Commission’s proposal.  For example, if 10% of the voters in the Kaipara District (that is 1,290 people) were to sign a petition for a poll then a binding poll across the entire Northland region of 152,000 people would need to be held.  The poll would determine whether the final proposal will proceed or not.

For Northland people, this “window” expires on 21 February 2014. For Hastings and Napier people, their deadline is 7 March 2014.

For further information, visit the Local Government Commission website. Or just email your submission (with name, address, and your local council details) to info@lgc.govt.nz or post it to: Local Government Commission PO Box 5362 Wellington 6145

Jenny Kirk

Former MP and Local Body Councillor


51 comments on “Local govt is on the move”

  1. George D 1

    As an Aucklander, I like the status quo. Auckland is unified, organised, powerful, and has a clear voice for the first time in its history. Local boards are defining their powers, and taking community concerns seriously. The bias to the provinces that has perpetuated for the entirety of New Zealand’s existence might once be erased.

    Of course, I’m not just an Aucklander.

    • karol 1.1

      Very good post, Jenny. And important.

      George, there are benefits to integration of local democracy processes and governance across the Auckland region.

      I do not like the current Auckland council set up. It especially disconnects many in the outer areas of Auckland. There is a centralising tendency, whereby the past way of doing things in Auckland City, have been imposed on the other areas (north, south, west).

      Under Waitakere City, many of us in the west felt more connected and engaged with the processes of governance, as indicated in the post with reference to Greg Presland’s posts. Now we have less say in our governance, and there is a worrying tendency to centralise resources and admin. Some of the things that were stronger in west Auckland, that now are being undermined: a concern for sustainable aporoaches to the environment and resources; a concern to include the least well off and more marginalised sections of society.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    “…A similar proposal for amalgamation is happening right now in the Hawkes Bay, Napier region…”

    Complete with 1990s carpetbagger, has-been and ex-Labour party president Mike Williams setting himself up to help the pro-amalgamation interests in Napier. Quite why such pompous and opinionated outsiders like Williams presume to tell the locals of Napier what is good for them I don’t know. But I do know he is in for a very rude shock if he thinks poncing about with the wannabe squatocracy like his mate the late and unlamented Paul Holmes gives him any idea at all about what real locals actually think.

    If handled properly, this forced amalgamation will blow up in the governments face – it should be used by labour as a great wedge issue against National.

    • alwyn 2.1

      Do you have a reference to these activities of Mike Williams in Napier?
      Presumably there is something on-line about this?
      Knowing the area a little I would have thought all the pro-amalgamation interests were in Hastings, with Napier being almost unanimously opposed.

    • Kevin Welsh 2.2

      First I have heard about Mike Williams involvement.

      This is a highly polarising issue in Hawke’s Bay and one which the Government is very keen to keep on the backburner until after the General Election. Local Labour candidate, Stuart Nash, is firmly behind the anti-amalgamation campaign in Napier with billboards strategically placed around the city. Whoever the poor National candidate is that will replace Chris Tremain has got their work cut-out on this one and I expect a massive swing to Labour in this electorate because of this issue.

      Basically it will be a ‘vote for National is a vote for amalgamation’ campaign.

      • leftriteleft 2.2.1

        For Chris Tremain – – he got the Golden Chalice. As Minister for Local Bodies he can’t say anything. Conflict of interest. Can you see why he is standing down.
        As far as this amalgamation goes., I’m a Napier resident/home owner and lived here since ’69.
        Hastings has too much debt and wants to suck off Napier.
        If this amalg goes ahead, I sell and go into a retirement home.
        Bottom line _ Rates go up. End of story.
        2 ticks for Stuart Nash.

  3. Jenny Kirk 3

    George – local (community) boards have always taken their local issues seriously and been “powerful” within their own right to do good things for their communities. A great deal of this “power” has been undermined in the Auckland supercity legislation, and is likely to happen under current proposals from the Local Govt Commission.

    Sanctuary – hadn’t realised Mike Williams is helping the pro-amalgamation interests (which appear to be strong) in Hawkes Bay/Napier. I hope there’s an equally strong opposition starting to emerge there – because the sorts of propositions put before Northland and HB/Napier are just the sorts of propositions groups like the NZ Employers & Manufacturers Assn have been wanting for years. The EMA says just this in their submission to the Local Govt select committee on the 2012 Local Govt Amendment Bill. In other words, big business has now been given the opportunity to take over local government business courtesy of the current government via the Local Govt Commission.

    Karol – thanks for the back-up. It seems to me NZ is heading backwards into the colonial era of provinces with the current set-ups being proposed by the LGC.

  4. Ennui 4

    My stomach still churns and feels pukesome whenever I recall that toad Bassett and his “reforms” in the 80s. It was part of that same free market nonsense of privatising a sector (everything has to go out to tender….).

    I feel equally nauseous whenever I hear the mindless assumption that bigger means better, more efficient and less costly. And by necessity less democratic (cant have that can we, it is inefficient and more costly).

  5. Ad 5

    Anyone here want to see Hawkes Bay or Northland administered as they are?

    • lprent 5.1

      Anyone here want to see Hawkes Bay or Northland administered as they are?

      It isn’t an all or nothing TINA approach that the LGC seems to prefer after Hide stacked their governance. Going fully massive and non-local or remaining too small situation the way that the LGC seems to see it are not the only alternatives. There are many possible combinations between.

      The most effective way in my opinion is to have regional councils with limited responsibilities but also without the daft veto on regional concerns from local councils that crippled the ARC. In effect that was where the Royal Commission on Auckland wound up.

      However if the LGC wants to only give an all or nothing change after only listening to a carefully hand-selected selected group of people who would benefit from the change (which is what they appear to have been doing) – then I think you’ll find that the preferred response from those adversely affected will be to do nothing.

      Just as the Auckland supershitty legislation will eventually be changed considerably because it was a crappy system imposed on us by dickheads from Wellington.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        I think the de-democratisation arises not from the scale but from the separation of powers. The 1989 reforms that formed a hard line between the Council and the Chief Executive’s staff relegated the political role to occasional financial and regulatory input, by and large.

        This same dynamic is found in Auckland, but writ far harder and deeper by the CCOs.

        This is not the place for a full-thrated review of CCOs and whether depoliticisation of Councils is a good thing. There’s arguments either way.

        But 2013 was the first year central government took consistent notice of Auckland as a political force, since (probably) the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

        Local Government will always be a lowly portfolio in Wellington, but Auckland’s integrated political scale means it’s an ever present shape in the political mind. The other regions such as Wellington and Northland can see that, and they want it.

        • lprent

          But 2013 was the first year central government took consistent notice of Auckland as a political force, since (probably) the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

          I’d partially agree with that. In effect the change in scale since 1989 has been to form a larger bureaucracy. That in itself doesn’t matter that much. After all that is exactly how central government largely operates as well. You don’t expect MP’s to wander around doing everything and councillors are pretty much the same. But both should have an oversight financial and regulatory role.

          The difference in scale is the way that the councillors are increasingly divorced from their constituents that they are meant to be representing. For instance in Auckland the councillors are meant to be representing constituencies that are a lot larger than any MP has. Long-standing electorate MPs will tell you that since the change to MMP and the doubling in size of their electorates – they can’t do that effectively themselves. Moreover councillors and especially the mayoral election spending limits are ridiculously large compared to MPs.

          It is a system simply designed to ensure that contact is lost between constituents and those representing them.

          But in a large part that has been quite deliberate. If you look back over the legislation over the decades you can see a clear intent of making sure that regions cannot act out of concert with central government. The regional council legislation was a classic example where they had the responsibility for certain tasks but absolutely no authority to carry them out when a council objected or CEO.

          Sure Auckland may be listened to more in central government. A fat lot of use that is if they simply wind up as being a pile of fat cats bloating themselves on business “contributions” in preparation for each election cycle’s reelection cycle of incumbents. They will and already show strong signs of being more and more out of touch with their constituents. They literally have no need to be beholden to or listen to them.

          In fact the only thing that shows any signs of being useful has been the local boards – and they are completely powerless. But they are slowly developing the talents and providing a focus for mobilizing against leeching incumbents.

      • Wayne 5.1.2

        Most commenters seem to have forgotten the Auckland amalgamation came out of the Royal Commission set up by Labour. By and large the new Council has been good for Auckland, especially for planning, transport and region wide services. Obviously it is not perfect. I think Local Boards need more power for instance.

        If you look at the rest of NZ, there clearly needs to be reform, and “no”, I do not think getting every resident to vote on the packages is the right way to go. If that had happened in Auckland, I suspect nothing would have happened. Sometimes Central govt has to decide.

        So for instance having several TLA’s in Wairarapa makes no sense at all. Similarly Central Otago, or Canterbury Plains or Waikato or Manawatu. They are simply too small to do proper planning and deal with environmental issues. They do not have the capacity to get on top of modern expectations around water quality.

        But how many would voluntarily merge, not too many I suspect. And allowing a vote leads to the sort of campaign we are seeing in Napier/Hastings. Always good for the party in opposition (witness 1989), but not really the best way to get long term reform.

        Typically local govt reform is best done in a first term (when the govt has a lot of capital, as the Nats showed in Auckland) or a third term, since it is unlikely a fourth term can be won in any event.

        • lprent

          Having a Royal Commission was good approach. It is a pity that the National/Act government has completely screwed that approach for the future with their response.

          I mostly fully supported the greater auckland city proposals from the royal commission. A few niggles about some of the proposals, but they were pretty good to get around the bottle necks. Legislation based on those would have passed with the support of most of the house *and* the politically aware population of Auckland. On the other hand just simply removing the council vetos on the ARC and extending some of their authority would have done much the same kind of thing.

          However the laws were actually passed by Rodney Hide and the government I did not support. They were a completely arbitrary and had little or no relationship to anything that the royal commission proposals. Most of it seems to have been designed to provide a good political environment strip the city of assets. That is why the legislation governing Auckland will be changed by the next government.

          To try to use the figleaf of the royal commission to conceal the rape of Auckland by the NAct’s is silly of you. And it really sucks that the government of the day have now made it impossible to use that reasoned consultative approach in the future.

          • Wayne

            What “rape”? There have been no assets sales that I am ware of , which seems to be the basis of your charge. Mind you it would be good if Ports of Auckland was more like the highly successful Tauranga model.

            By and large the Royal Commission recommendations were adopted. There was some change by Rodney Hide, but it was essentially detail. If a Lab/Green govt (if that is the 2014 outcome, though not predicted by many pundits at the moment) make some legislative changes, thats OK. They will hardly change the fundamentals, which is the establishment of the unitary city.

    • Jenny Kirk 5.2

      Right now, Ad, the locals appear to have taken matters into their own hands regarding local administration – Whangarei people voted in a new mayor (not the usual business-supported person)
      Far North District also voted in a new mayor (Wayne Brown who started off all this pro-amalgamation stuff got a mighty good shove-off) and the regional council have a new chairperson.

      Hopefully these (and new councillors) will see some differences in administration in the local bodies up here in the north – that is, if the Local Govt Comm allows them to do so when people respond to the unitary proposal !

      And to lprent – the Local Govt Comm hasn’t given people in Northland (or Hawkes Bay) a choice – its a unitary authority proposal – with, as I’ve already said, lesser powers to the local/community boards.

      • Ad 5.2.1

        You will seriously need quality people to achieve what you are proposing.
        Quality people will stand when the pay is good, the decisions are interesting, the nexus between central government and local interests and business and civicl society is real, and when the media provide them with sufficient sexy profile. ie it has to be a real alternative career.

        Until then it’s going to remain the Usual Suspects and the same set of tired fell-off-the-end-of-the-list-selection retreads.

        You generally need a good scale to attract good candidates.
        If you don’t agree, I will condemn you to life as a Local Government Conference organiser.

      • lprent 5.2.2

        And to lprent – the Local Govt Comm hasn’t given people in Northland (or Hawkes Bay) a choice…

        Yep, the usual all or nothing proposal of the TINA devotees. Over time people have come to realise that tactic is a sure sign of insincere arseholes politicking.

  6. Anne 6

    People are sold the story that amalgamating several smaller councils into one will lead to increased efficiencies, less cost, and presumably lower rates.

    As an Aucklander, my experience is that claim is complete and utter piffle.

    1) Increased efficiencies: yeah that’s right… simply shelve much needed projects the previous council had set in progress, and claim that it’s in the interest of “operational efficiencies”.

    2) Less cost: well it depends on who you’re talking about. Less cost for the supershitty, but more cost for the residents in every sense of the word.

    3) Lower rates: OMG where does one start! Rates have risen to such an alarming extent in the past few years that many people – including me – are on the tipping edge. We are having to sell our much loved homes/units/town houses because we can’t absorb the huge rate hikes on our limited incomes.

    As for the water rates: the biggest rort ever inflicted on Aucklanders. Whereas once I paid them twice a year – averaging around $100 each time, I now pay once a month averaging $55 to $60 per month. An increase from $200 to $700 plus per annum. Multiply that for families with small children and I don’t know how many of them manage to cope. They don’t of course.

    Local boards are defining their powers, and taking community concerns seriously.

    Can’t agree with you there Goerge D. They have no power any more. It’s been taken away from them and placed mainly in the hands of powerful council officials and private contractors.

    Lets remember how they came into being… Rodney Hide planned to do away with them altogether but there was such an uprising he was forced to reinstate the local council boards. He got around it by removing most of their responsibilities. All they can do is make recommendations and then wait to see if the big boys and girls will act on them – a situation fraught with problems from petty jealousies to conflicting and ideological standpoints.

    Thanks Jenny for your very timely post.

  7. greywarbler 7

    Auckland isn’t a good example of amalgamation. It is an example of Mr Creosote. (Just another little wafer sir. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXH_12QWWg8)

    I don’t know about others. Nelon and Tasman are looking askance at each other. Do we have the same cultures? They are farming-oriented, Nelson city is ? – retired people and arts and tourism and events? They have just lessened their input into tourism, even though it is a major part of their economy. Small minded , budget-first, people do this and think they can coast along on what they have – National Park etc.

    Napier-Hastings – wouldn’t it make sense?
    Northland may have to defend itself from Auckland’s power – stop being a flyweight and try to build to middle if not heavy. It has traditionally not done well from government scrutiny. Scrutiny has been scanty. Perhaps they need more bikini clad women on their beaches to change the scanty to Orewa-like support.

    Show the advantages clearly should be a baseline – not rah rah talk about efficiencies which can mean less rubbish collections and a huge landfill for the area in one valley that leaches out to the best fishing stream and purest spring in the area or such.

    • Kevin Welsh 7.1

      Personally, Greywarbler, I think amalgamation is the right option for Hawkes Bay. The petty pointless politicking that goes around at the moment between Napier and Hastings is bloody pathetic and holding the area back.

      I just disagree with the way it will be forced upon people. The Better Hawkes Bay group, who put forward the amalgamation proposal accepted by the Government, is basically a group of wealthy business people looking to profit at everyone elses expense.

      • leftriteleft 7.1.1

        Dead right. It’s not about us. It’s about them. The rich pricks like our so called PM.

  8. cricklewood 8

    It’s fair to day big business loves amalgamation. Generally because local works get pushed into ever bigger contracts which are beyond the resources of smaller local contractors.
    Contrary to popular belief keeping contracts manageable in size for a small operation actually reduces the cost to rate payers. Generally because there is no middle management and no bevvy of shareholders etc to pay. The tenders I successfully won were generally10-15% cheaper than the likes of Downers and often as much as 20%. We paid the staff on the ground more than Downers and the profits stayed in the area. Not to mention the service is nearly always better as the company is local and the management /owners actually care about the town / city they live in and it tends to be their core business not a minor irritation to be fitted in around bigger contracts.
    The local body I contracted to actually began reducing the size of there contracts as the realised big companies like Downers weren’t the only option not to mention the savings on offer when things like the grass cutting contracts came within the reach of owner operator type set ups…

  9. Tim 9

    This damned democracy lark is just SO bloody inefficient and non-cost-effective aye?
    Lets just do away with all this local government crap altogether and ‘increase efficiency, lower costs, and presumably lower rates’ – after all – we’re ALL the same aye – we are New Zulluners!
    AS George D says – he’s an Aucklander!! and of course a New Zulluner – no different from a Coaster, those bloody aging hippies in the King Country or Mot, those damned pot-heads in the far north or East Cape, the once-were-Greenies in the Mandel, the once-were Orklanders in Queenstown – ALL the same!
    Let’s just centralise all and everything – eliminate the cost of local body elections, become super efficient, allow those political elites at central headquarters who’re so in touch with grass roots concerns to allocate resources, determine what community concerns are, and prioritise programmes centrally.
    Super efficient, less bureaucratic, logic says its got to be more cost-effective, less wasteful, and of course people have absolute faith and trust that their elected representatives operating from NZ Inc. HQ are going to be so much more motivated to do a good job.
    We could probably even go a step further and leave it all to the market and private “enterprise” to handle it all. I mean …. after all, it’s in their interests to be responsible to their shareholders and ‘stakeholders’.
    We could even do away with electorates! I mean fuck it – why don’t we just elect a cabinet every 3 years. Actually why have it 3 years. Every 5 or 10 years would be more cost effective surely.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1


    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 9.2


      ‘cept you can forget about that bit about ‘presumably lower rates’ – they will go up to service the debt created by the greater capacity for borrowing amalgamation gives us.

      (& Great article Jenny Kirk)

    • Jenny Kirk 9.3

      +1 and it would save us (me) all a lot of angst , Tim !

  10. aerobubble 10

    Hide was the local government Minister in Auckland who introduced the Super City legislation.

    Hide the pork buster who was busted, now keeps giving with Brown found allegedly wanting.

    Brown who lives in S.Auckland and to adequately carry out his duties city wide needs a Auckland Mayor residence. Yet funnily if Auckland had voted Banks it would have been easy for Banks.

    So it looks remarkable like the legislation hurt candidates from S.Auckland, having no way to sack a Mayor when they go about allegedly upsizing their perks.

    Thanks Hide.

  11. infused 11

    As long as the Wellington amalgamation (holy shit, I spelt that right) doesn’t happen, I’ll be happy.

  12. mickysavage 12

    Well said Jenny.

    My 2c worth on Auckland super city is it was rushed, too much power was given to the CCOs and the mayor and the power is far too concentrated in the hands of the Council itself.

    Firstly the amalgamation could have taken place over 6 or even 9 years. Libraries and parks could have been given regional governance immediately and other areas of activity centralised as time went by. For instance there are still in existence the 8 separate district plans and why planning had to be centralised before the district plans were I do not understand.

    Second bugbear are the CCOs. The individuals involved are pleasant and do their best to consult with locals but there is an entirely different decision making process that occurs once the consultation has finished and it is all a bit of a mystery I am afraid. The mayor also has too much power and potential candidates require far too much resource to do it properly. My personal preference is for a chairperson of the board selected by a majority of councillors.

    Third bugbear is the lack of local powers. Local boards get the chance to go in and speak to the Governing body and make submissions on strategies and plans but the real power is concentrated in the centre. This is not so bad if the Council itself is sane but I suspect that this current term is really going to test things.

    And finally local government needs to be collegial and constructive. Relationships and understandings need to be built amongst elected members because many of the decisions have long term implications and there needs to be buy in so that these are not sabotaged. If there was a constant zigzagging as the philosophical bent of a council changed each election then very little would happen. Super city has not helped with the foraging of long term relationships or the feeling of stewardship that elected members should have.

    Having just spent the last week in Northland I could imagine nothing worse than a super city type structure for the area. The place is a collection of villages and the west is way different to the east. Northlanders should oppose losing their local voice because that is what would happen with any amalgamation or consolidation.

  13. “If the Local Government Commission decides to issue a final proposal abolishing and merging existing councils, then there is a 60 day window in which electors in one or more of the affected districts can call for a binding poll on the Commission’s final proposal….For Northland people, this “window” expires on 21 February 2014. For Hastings and Napier people, their deadline is 7 March 2014.”

    Declaration of interest: I was a Beehive press secretary 2004-08 (Helen Clark and Paul Swain). I am currently assisting the Local Government Commission with communications support for the three reorganisation proposals it has received: Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington/Wairarapa.

    Greetings – I won’t participate in your debate for obvious reasons but if I may, I would like to correct one small but important point in Jenny’s original post.

    Those two dates mentioned above are NOT the deadline for a petition seeking a poll. They are the deadline for public submissions on the Draft Proposal.

    Once those dates have passed the Local Government Commission will organise public hearings in the affected areas, where those who made submissions can appear in person.

    After analysis of the public submissions the LGC will decide whether to issue a Final Proposal for reorganisation.

    If and when a Final Proposal is issued, that is the point at which the 60-day clock (working days) starts ticking for residents to gather signatures on a petition.

    All other background information is on the LGC website as Jenny noted.

    Thanks in anticipation for publishing this post.

    [Thanks Kathryn, who said that the GCSB was the only Government Department to listen … – MS]

  14. Jenny Kirk 14

    oh yes. Thanks Kathryn. Got the wording wrong. Submissions first, and then a poll. thanks for the clarification.

    And Mickey S. Wish I’d known you were in the north : we could have met up somewhere – except maybe not , it is as you say a HUGE place with isolated towns/villages – takes hours to travel anywhere. And its difficult enough now for local people to have a say in what goes on in their communities : having a “supercity” unitary imposition will make it impossible. So – yep – guess what my activity is going to be over the next couple of months !? ! Stirring up the opposition to it.

  15. tricledrown 15

    Left right left you are not up with MMP 2 ticks to labour is not MMP thinking both votes to labour when you want the greens to give their vote to stuart Nash.
    The way to maximize the left is to split your vote in close seats to get 2 canditdates for one seat.
    Peter Dunnes seat needs the same strategy with the greens voting labour in Ohairyu and then greens list.
    The left haven’t figured out strategic votes yet we have to win this election .

  16. burt 16

    With all due respect to the author if this post, and acknowledging their best efforts to find an angle to attack the National government because Labour is good and National is bad, they seem to have missed a critical point.

    Change is continual … Technology could all but negate the need for local government however …. Lefties like structure, hierarchy and having elite leaders paid for with the sweat of the masses so it’s no wonder lefties are complaining about the breakdown of their little empires.

    • felix 16.1

      Without a trace of irony

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 16.2

      What a piece of work, this “Burt” is, paying lip-service to “respect” then launching into a hate-based character assassination.

      This idiot could easily be replaced by technology. Democracy (local or otherwise), not so much.

  17. Tracey 17


    A” as long as the Wellington amalgamation (holy shit, I spelt that right) doesn’t happen, I’ll be happy.”

    nice summary of what motivates many voters.


    havent seen you much around here. How are you doing in your down is up and up is down world?

  18. burt 18


    I don’t get what could be ironic about it. If you want direct and local governance then the solution is direct democracy not politics.

    Politics gives us … Centralise, decentralise, centralise, decentralise…. In all manner of infrastructure and social policy. We see it in key social services such as health, welfare and education. Areas where the politics of being popular enough to win the hearts of the majority makes our infrastructure and social services political footballs.

    Sure, if I was supporting the supposedly National mentality ( because it has also been Labour’s mentality in the past ) that amalgamation of local authorities is a good idea then I’d be just trolling. I don’t support the amalgamation because it’s just a phase in the cycle … making it ready to decentralise again in a decade or so.

    Change is needed Felix, the flip flop model isn’t serving us. Some parts of running the country should be taken away from the partisan model and have their changed managed by some other mechanism.

    • felix 18.1

      “Lefties like structure, hierarchy and having elite leaders paid for with the sweat of the masses”

      Pretty much a definition of capitalism.

      “I don’t get what could be ironic about it. “

      Of course you don’t burt. That was kinda the point.

  19. Tracey 19

    I wonder why everyone else gets a say but aucklanders didnt.

  20. burt 20


    Congratulations, you have finally worked out what I’ve been on about for years. Partisan hacks are normally too stupid to see past ‘my team good – your team bad’ but you’ve made it. Yes the end game in socialism and capitalism sees the elite ( the few ) living high on the workers ( the many ).

    The point is that simply agitating against the current trend in local government and being an activist for the opposite is what creates the flip flop of policies that serves the politicians well and the voters poorly. Once again – the few manipulate the many. Somewhere in the pendulum of centralise, decentralise, centralise, decentralise is a workable model. We’ll not settle on it as long as governance structure as well as service delivery goals and KPI’s are set by politicians using slogans and a promise to change something that’s been being changed every decade or so for about 180 years now.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 20.1

      Simple solution: evidence-based policy. Except oops, that means you might have to acknowledge inequality and the greenhouse effect.

    • Jenny Kirk 20.2

      To Burt : ” The point is that simply agitating against the current trend in local government and being an activist for the opposite is what creates the flip flop of policies that serves the politicians well and the voters poorly.”

      Maybe so, Burt, but there’s unfortunately not much else one can do – and at the very least, being an activist for the opposite helps get the local community understand what is going on, helps make people more aware of their local democratic rights and how they might lose them.

      And you never know – miracles occasionally occur – we just might be able to stop this process happening and get something more worthwhile out of it instead for our local governing bodies.

  21. RedBaronCV 21

    Well I went to a Wellington meeting where one Geffrey Palmer, having been given a very significant dob of ratepayer funds proceeded to tell us that TINA and something worse might happen if we didn’t get behind amalgamation. Not really consultation more threats. Round here the regional council seems to do quite a lot on the area wide issues, transport, water for not too much money and who knows what the city does with their share of the rates. I don’t see amalgamation doing anything for ratepayers – if anything I’d rather see any remaining region wide functions handed over to regional council and the rest devoved down to a strictly local area. I know how much our ‘burb pays in annual rates and I doubt whether even 5% goes back into the area.
    Nor do they do basic services any more. It’s about a $1.50 per rubbish bag which once again weighs more heavily on the poor.

  22. Penny Bright 22

    Some of us opposed the Auckland SUPERCITY – SUPER RIPOFF literally from ‘Day One’, and warned that it would be a corporate takeover, with the unelected ‘Council-Controlled-Organisations’ (CCOs) being the mechanism.


    (My ‘whistle-blowing’ warning as an Auckland Mayoral candidate – published on scoop in July 2010 – that Auckland would be run ‘by business for business’).

    It was the CCO model – pushed by the Royal Commission (BEFORE Rodney Hide) – that was, in my opinion – their most significant recommendation.

    However, the CCO model has NOT been subject to any form of ‘cost-benefit analysis’ by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG), the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the previous Auckland Transition Agency (ATA) the previous 8 Auckland Councils or NZ Treasury.

    (I know because I asked via OIA and LGOIMA requests. )

    The real reason for these Council amalgamations is the opportunity for bigger contracts, for bigger but fewer private contractors, while rates continue to rise for the majority of citizens and ratepayers.

    I find it fascinating that history is effectively being rewritten, and the role of the previous Labour Government in helping to facilitate this corporate takeoever through their setting up of the Royal Commission (for Auckland Regional Governance), is being minimised, in my considered opinion.

    (Sorry – but don’t ask me to have a frontal lobotomy and forget the FACTS.)

    Again – if you want to know who’s really running the Auckland region – check out:

    (While you’re there, have a look at the reports of the regular quarterly meetings Mayor Len Brown has with the Committee for Auckland, which are for members only, and no media.

    Please be reminded that to be a member of the Committee for Auckland, it is INVITATION-ONLY and $10,000 per year ……. )

    It is my intention to set aside time to make submissions, and if possible appear in person to advocate as strongly as possible that such proposed Council amalgamations do NOT serve the public interest.

    (Have rather a lot of information in the form of FACTS and EVIDENCE to back this up………… )

    Hope other Aucklanders make submissions as well , so that other New Zealanders learn the lesson that the Auckland Council amalgamations have helped produce a ‘Supercity for the 1%’.

    Penny Bright


    • Wayne 22.1


      To do a “cost benefit” analysis of CCO’s for commercial activities would be frankly ridiculous. Your attack on them is essentially political, i.e. you think a business like Ports of Auckland, and I would also include Watercare as a business (by the way, pay your water rates like everyone else), should be run by the Council directly, rather than by a corporate model. But that is not how the world works anymore.

      Since virtually all significant businesses on the planet are run on the corporate model, no govt would waste time and money by asking any department to do a “cost benefit” model of the proposition.

      This is generally the problem of all your letters and emails and petitions for inquiries etc. They ask for things that are already well tested, and don’t need any more testing. You might just as well ask why Air New Zealand is organized as a company, rather than a workers co-operative. Well, I suppose you can ask, except don’t expect an OAG inquiry into the issue.

      • Penny Bright 22.1.1

        “Since virtually all significant businesses on the planet are run on the corporate model, no govt would waste time and money by asking any department to do a “cost benefit” model of the proposition.
        They ask for things that are already well tested, and don’t need any more testing. ”

        Really Wayne?

        Got some FACTS and EVIDENCE to back up your ‘idealogical / political’ attack on my considered opinion?

        Don’t know if you’re an Auckland ratepayer, but have you tried doing your own ‘cost-benefit’ analysis on the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of the Auckland Supercity?

        Have YOUR rates gone up or down since amalgamation?

        (Don’t forget to include ‘user-charges’ for services provided by Auckland Council, or Auckland CCOs).

        In my opinion, the root cause of corruption is the ‘corporatised’ business model for public services.

        Who is deciding who gets the contracts?

        How is it being decided who gets the contracts?

        Who is actually getting the contracts?

        Are the Auckland Council / CCO ‘books’ open?

        Are the public majority being told the NAMES of the consultants/contractors; the SCOPE, the TERM or the VALUE of these contracts?

        Is there a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for all those directly responsible for contracting / procurement and property?

        Seems that the only beneficiaries of public services being run under the ‘business / corporate’ model, are those businesses or corporates who get the contracts?

        How many contracts for Auckland Council or Auckland Council CCOs are being awarded to member companies of the Committee for Auckland?

        Former CEO of Auckland Council Doug McKay was a member of the Committee for Auckland – whose interests was he serving?

        How is it not a MAJOR ‘conflict of interest’ for a supposedly ‘apolitical public servant’ to be a member of a private sector, ‘invitation-only’ corporate lobby group?

        (There is a LOT more to come on these, and related issues ……….)

        Kind regards,

        Penny Bright

  23. Wayne 23

    Penny you might say my attack is “idealogical/political”. In a sense that is true. But the point I was making is that you are always askings for an inquiry of one sort or another, but they are usually about the wrong things.

    Govt’s don’t ask for enquiries on whether it is for instance a good idea to have SOE’s for something like electricity production. You might say electricity is a public service and of course we all require electricity, but it is something we have to buy. It is not a “free” good like health or welfare which we get according to our situation. So pretty much anything we have to buy (which includes lots of essentials, food for instance) is provided through a corporate model. Things we buy usually exist in a competitive market (though not water), and the corporate models ensures efficient decisions in their provision.

    So if you are asking for enquires, ask for the right things. Usually related to private use of public monies by officials, or gross wastage, or obvious conflicts of interest. Not likely the Committee for Auckland would really qualify as a conflict of interest since virtually all the major players in the city belong.

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