SuperCity not Solved

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, May 27th, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, democracy under attack, rodney hide - Tags:

Rodney Hide’s new line is that he has listened to the people, democracy has triumphed, and the SuperShitty is all better now. It isn’t.

National Radio’s Nine-to-Noon was sold the line successfully, as they had Rodney followed by John Banks (whose publicity team of Bill Ralston & Janet Wilson are successfully getting him everywhere – which just seems to lower his poll ratings…) declaring it was all better now.

There are improvements in the 3rd SuperCity Bill, but there is still a lot wrong. Aucklanders will still have more representation at a national level than at local level; being governed by a corporate style board of 20, rather than allowing true local debate. Out of the calls to the Royal Commission to increase local control, we will be left with a handful in charge at Council and local board level.

We still have CCOs imposed by government. Sure 6 out of 7 CCOs the Council can dissolve at some future point; but the biggest, Transport, is still enshrined in law by parliament. How is that letting Aucklanders have a say in the running of their city? They are having 75-90% of their city’s functions put into corporations beyond the control of their votes, but with full access to their pockets. The directors and their remits are all imposed by NAct. How is this improving local democracy? And what sort of directors will they appoint? If the CEO is anything to go by we’ll have more people with no experience of public service, but very large pay-packets; although hopefully they will at least have made more of a contribution to society than selling alcopops to teenage girls.

And the vast majority of submitters that wanted more powers for local boards have largely been ignored. All they get is a blurb suggesting the Council might like to do so, and leaving it up to the Transition Authority to set precedent. Hopefully they do set a good precedent, under pressure from the public, but we’ll have to wait and see. By not legislating powers to the local boards, what NAct have set up is a turf control fight; as the Council and local boards argue over jurisdiction. Getting rid of these fights between fiefdoms was a large part of what this reorganisation was meant to achieve. Instead we can expect bun-fights for some time as the boundaries are pushed. If we get Len Brown and a Council that believes in local democracy it might not be so bad, but the system set up will ensure it occurs.

Rodney still has no idea how much this SuperShitty is going to cost. The cost of the transition? No idea. Running costs compared to the old councils? No idea. But if you’re flying in corporate execs on $742,500, and your lowering the costs of all sorts of permits, leaving the public to give subsidies to developers, I can only see one way the rates bills are going to be headed. Up.


9 comments on “SuperCity not Solved”

  1. Bunji 1

    Meant to add that we also still have gerrymandered wards to increase National voters influence – the over-representation of Rodney and Franklin, and the rich/poor 2-member wards to ensure the poor don’t get any voice. There was a reason Britain brought in the Great Reform Act of 1832 – 2 member wards generally mean a community misses out on representation.

  2. lprent 2

    I’ve been meaning to write posts on this, but haven’t had time (story of my life at present).

    Essentially the changes in the 3rd bill are pretty much cosmetic. The amount of influence on the CCO boards looks very limited based on the relative influence of who appoints people to those boards – who in theire right mind would trust Rodney?

    The figleafs of the CCO’s to public consultation are purely for show, there is no effective influence the boards. Being natural monopolies you can’t even find another supplier . The only thing you can do is to change the council and get them to abolish the CCO. In the case of transport, you can’t even do that. You have to change the government and revoke the legislation.

    Essentially the super-shitty is one major fuckup by NACT that Rodney seems to have dragged them into – and the arseholes are charging me – $100million so far and rising. I’m really not looking forward to my rates bill next year.

  3. Bunji 3

    Ah, yes lprent, I forgot to mention the figleaf of public consultation. A meeting to present a report every 3 months? Halliburton as a publicly-listed company will output a public report (to shareholders) every 3 months. Doesn’t stop them being involved in everything from environmental murder in the Gulf of Mexico to actual murder in Iraq. So I can’t say the CCO having to tell us what they’re up to (that isn’t commercially sensitive) 4 times a year gives me that much confidence. If you ask Ministers, they struggle to contol their SOEs, let alone the public – CCOs will be exactly the same.

  4. Zaphod Beeblebrox 4

    I’m tipping this whole structure will be lucky to survive the first term of the council. The Local Boards (who can’t be dismissed- except by an act of parliament) will be running 20 local anti- Auckland Transport (who can be sacked) campaigns when they don’t get what they want, using Auckland Council’s staff who will be straggled accross Auckland in the existing council buildings but nominally under the control of Doug MacKay who will be trying to rein in costs to make Hide look better.
    Then there will be a Mayoral office and Twenty Councillors pushing their own separate agendas asking Doug and his staff for funds for their own projects.
    This is even before you start worrying about the 7 CCOs, their boards and their staff who will be pushing their own projects at the same `time pushing for their piece of the financial pie.
    And its worth remembering that ultimate authority will be the council, not the mayor who will only able to do what they like if they can do trade-offs and deals with individual councillors in return for votes. Tak Brown’s and Banks’ promises with a grain of salt.
    Apart from all that the NZ Herald and Hide think thate verything will be all right.

  5. the sprout 5

    The front page of last week’s Aucklander said a poll of about 1000 Aucklanders showed 98% opposed the Supershitty.
    This is going to cost ACT any place in the next Parliament.

    [lprent: It was a lot more than that. More like about 8000+ ]

  6. felix 6

    Rodney Hide, just now in parliament, described the costs of the transition in terms of a percentage of the total value off the assets of the Auckland council.

    Not a percentage of cashflow or revenue, but a percentage of assets.

    Just in case there was any doubt as to what he intends for our assets, you see…

  7. tc 7

    It’s an unmitigated mess destined to be foisted onto ratepayers later this year by people with little experience or proven ability at such a massive re-organisation…..great intentions mean shit with an unrealistic timeframe, lack of thought and inadequately skilled management.

    The 3rd supershitty act had the first 40 pages ammending the cockups and illconsidered elements in the first 2 and the likes of deloittes/pwc etc are making a killing out of the consultancy side at ratepayers expense already and the actual trainwreck’s months away yet so how can you know the costs ?

    That’s why Hide can’t answer the costs issue because he’s runnng with scissors and every time he falls over….woopps there’s some more dosh gone. It’s a sympton of the NAct regime, make it up as you go along.

  8. Armchair Critic 8

    IMO this is the next leaky buildings-type crisis in the making.
    Labour did a lot to tidy up the loose ends around local government and NACT’s reorganisation of Auckland is creating a whole lot of new loose ends, problems, imbalances and disparities. The only long term solution is probably another reorgansiation, nation-wide this time and including Auckland, to correct the impending disaster and get Auckland working properly.
    Winning the first election is going to be a hospital pass, the proposed structure is unworkable.

  9. The bill as introduced was truely appalling, partly as a result of the haste with which it had been drafted, partly because the drafters did not have the slightest idea about how Auckland functions and partly because of the dark hand of Rodney Hide.

    It is not surprising that this bill is better. Submission after submission pointed out the weaknesses of the bill and the committee had no option but to patch up some of the major problems that were identified.

    It is still a corporate takeover. The only hope that Auckland has is to get Len Brown and a majority of progressive councillors elected and for them to then wrest back some of the power from the CCOs.

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