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Owning Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 2:52 pm, September 8th, 2009 - 17 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, local government - Tags:

Democracy Under Attack

Last Friday the report of the Select Committee on Auckland was tabled in Parliament. The lack of media attention is a measure of how almost irrelevant this committee was. It has been clear for a long time that the decisions are being made by a small group around Key and Hide. The indefatigable Phil Twyford at Red Alert weights in with Labour’s take (go read the rest if you haven’t already):

Local government’s worst kept secret has finally been revealed with the tabling in Parliament of the Auckland super city committee’s report. Major decisions have already been announced by Government (powers for local boards, Maori seats) or leaked (the carve up of Rodney), but check out the bill and commentary to see just how badly this has turned out.

It’s a shocker. After the Royal Commission’s marathon and widely praised effort, and months of public debate and select committee hearings, the Government is offering up a flawed, unbalanced and undemocratic super city model.

The major concern must be the decimation of local democracy. The “local boards” are not going to be any substitute. As Brian Rudman puts it (likening the ruling Council to Rome):

Maybe I’m being excessively pessimistic, but it looks as though the proposed 20 to 30 local boards in the new Auckland Super City will be little more than part-pressure valves, part-whipping boys, for the Auckland Council proper.

The parliamentary select committee has tried to paint a picture of busy little councils dotted around the region, happily governing their semi-autonomous fiefdoms, at arm’s length from the sway of the emperor-mayor and his council. But wherever you look in their report, all roads inevitably lead back to Rome. Rome controls the purse strings. Rome can also overrule any local decision that contradicts regional policy.

Auckland’s fate is being decided by Wellington – and not all Aucklander’s are happy about it. Key and Hide have ignored the Royal Commission, brushed off the Maori Party and the Hikoi, and run roughshod over the select committee decision making process. In doing so John Key has taken very personal ownership of Auckland. If the SuperCity works he will own the credit. If it doesn’t he will own the blame. In the absence of any sign of listening at all, these words may come back to haunt him: “We listened to the submissions. That does not mean we have to agree with them.”

17 comments on “Owning Auckland ”

  1. lprent 1

    Yeah I’ve been meaning to blog on this. But essentially NACT haven’t bothered listening, so we’ll have to educate them through the ballot box. Essentially they didn’t change their screwed up plan in any significant detail, despite almost all submissions being against the plan in most details.

    NACT now owns this problem in toto, and especially John Key and Rodney Hide.

    The local committees are pointless

    The electoral structure for the council is designed for rorting, so that is what the left has to do.

  2. SMSD 2

    Actually, I think they are likening the new Super City Council to Rome. My take on it is that they are saying that it will hold all the ultimate decision making and financial powere, with no real balance from the local boards.

  3. andy 3

    By the time the Auckland Super City is proved to be a complete lemon, at least mid term on the second election cycle (2016ish), Key will be long gone and on to the next item of his ‘to-do list’.

    My interest is in the water/waste water shambles to be.. The need to convert 75% of the new super city into metro water customers (from cheap to expensive, waitakere your water charges will double!!) and the resulting price rises.

    Wellington will hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Bennett, Collins and the Speakers middle class voters, its going to leave a big mark when people wake up to the new super city they didn’t ask for! That and the lack of savings for rate payers will leave a very sour taste in voters mouths and a pain in the wallet.

  4. gargoyle 4

    I still haven’t had a good explanantion or why we need a supercity set up.

    Will our rates go down or not go up as fast as under the current administration?

    Will we receive better council services ?

    Will there be significant economies of scale that will be passed on to the ratepayers ?

    Will their be better planning by the council ?

    I suspect the answers will be No, No, No and No……….bah and humbug.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1

      Do political parties need to come up with reasons to justifying concentration of power for there own ends? Not really, they just say its rational and efficient.

      I think Hitler, Napoleon, Idi Amin and Mussolini all used the same arguments to justify depriving the populace of a say in how their communities were to be organised- just look at their speeches and compare them to Hide’s and Key’s.

      Of course these days they don’t wear military uniforms as it is a little too overt, They just don the garb of the business man and go on about economic efficiency which is code for less government support for local groups (unless it has something to do with RWC).

      Voltaire lives!

      • gargoyle 4.1.1

        Our politicians are indeed power hungry twats……. always have been and always likely to be as the job tends to attract those types.

        I don’t think we can compare them with Hitler, Amin and Mussolini however…….even Muldoon and Winnie at their most bombastic, badgering and fatuous never quite make it into that category.

        • Zaphod Beeblebrox

          Yes, NZ politicians are generally very civil and fair and honest. This gvernment is no exception.

          The justification they make for the supercity, however varies little from what was used in the past to justify state control and centralised authority. Economic rationality, efficiency and technical knowhow. Is there a mention of democarcy and local autonomy? let me know if you see it.

          • John

            Be careful..the last time a select few compared Helen to Mugabe there was understandable outrage at The Standard. In trying to compare what is going on with the Supercity to the actions of “Hitler, Napoleon, Idi Amin and Mussolini” you are just about committing the same vile offence. Show some restraint..your argument will be much more effective.

  5. Mr Rudman presumably extended the ‘Rome’ metaphor, for, as all histories of Rome show, once the empire grew to a certain size, the centre was forced into an ever-greater spiral of expenditure and effort to gurantee the integrity of the frontiers. Perhaps an Arminius will arise in the dark forests of Titirangi and do to central Auckland authority what befell Varus in CE9.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      I still need to read this. Essentially, from the synopsis I’ve read, complex societies collapse because they can no longer be afforded. It’s more complex than that of course – even Roman times knew about soil depletion.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.2

      Is it empire or republic?

      I can has tribunes of the peepulz?

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Quoting Rudman:

    The die was cast once the radical decision was made to start this reform with a clean slate and to design a new, centrally controlled city from the top down.

    Dictators, which the members of NACT are, designing dictatorial systems? Who’d a thunk it.

  7. Herodotus 7

    reasons for a consolidated city – better decision making. Every council/ARC seems to own a stadium. The Zoo, MOTAT,Museum, Stadiums, Reg Parks and the such like should be owned/managed by a body that has the whole of greater Auck can benefit and pay for. Overview and strategy for roads, infrastructure, stormwater, urban spraw development, green zones (That ARE to be kept in tact) etc. It is far to piecemeal under the current division. If the decision making process is as crap as it is currently then No.
    As to those who make comment regarding a lose of community and local decision making. It doesnt work now. For every city there is a small disproportinate few who have are the dcision base, (e.g. Devonport community that will never pay for other areas infrastructure (say stormwater) BUT seem to get passed whatever they lobby for. From what I can see all that will chhange is that Manukau, Franklin, Rodney & perhaps Waitakere lobby groups will lose their power and be like the rest of us powerless communities, and that the Vicky Ave & Devonport will increase their power base. But I could be wrong.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1

      Agreed the current system has its problems. Does that mean we need to destroy every single local government structure in Auckland that currently exists?

      There are much easier ways to fix the problems you point out.

  8. ngaitara 8

    Re. “Auckland’s fate is being decided by Wellington”

    I’m a Wellingtonian (from Te WHangaNui a Tara) but don’t blame the woes of Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau’s colonial administration on us. It has always been something of a genteel jack-up with a democratic facade – but now the people around Key and Hide wish to dispense with the remaining pretence while they can.

    Welcome to the Asia/Pacific region.

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