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The Auckland Mayor’s powers

Written By: - Date published: 9:29 am, October 18th, 2022 - 72 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, law, law and "order", local government, supercity, uncategorized - Tags:

Yesterday newly elected Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown issued a Mayoral decree that Watercare, a Council controlled organisation, should no longer work on anything to do with the Government’s Three Waters reforms.

The lawyer in me wondered how he could do this.  Afterall Watercare is a private company whose shares are owned by Auckland Council.  It is a Council Controlled Organisation under the Local Government Act 2002.

And the law is pretty clear.  Council control is through preparation of a Statement of Intent, and if Council requires it, other plans.

So what powers does the Mayor have?

They are set out in legislation.  Section 9 of the Local Government Auckland Council Act states as follows:

9   Mayor of Auckland
(1) The role of the mayor is to—
(a) articulate and promote a vision for Auckland; and
(b) provide leadership for the purpose of achieving objectives that will contribute to that vision.
(2) Without limiting subsection (1), it is the role of the mayor to—
(a) lead the development of Council plans (including the LTP and the annual plan), policies, and budgets for consideration by the governing body; and
(b) ensure there is effective engagement between the Auckland Council and the people of Auckland, including those too young to vote.
(3) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), the mayor has the following powers:
(a) to establish processes and mechanisms for the Auckland Council to engage with the people of Auckland, whether generally or particularly (for example, the people of a cultural, ethnic, geographic, or other community of interest):
(b) to appoint the deputy mayor:
(c) to establish committees of the governing body:
(d) to appoint the chairperson of each committee of the governing body and, for that purpose, the mayor—
(i) may make the appointment before the other members of the committee are determined; and
(ii) may appoint himself or herself:
(e) to establish and maintain an appropriately staffed office of the mayor.
(4) The mayor must exercise the power in subsection (3)(e)—
(a) in consultation with, and acting through, the Council’s chief executive; and
(b) within the budget in the annual plan adopted for that particular expenditure (being an amount not less than 0.2% of the Council’s total budgeted operating expenditure for that year).

And who governs Auckland Council?  The Act is pretty clear, the governing body is the Mayor and the twenty elected councillors.

The Mayor by himself has some but not huge powers.  Without a majority of councillors behind him his powers are relatively limited.

Auckland is in a relatively unique position.  Thanks to Mayor Goff’s enhanced investments over the past six years our water quality is improving and more beaches are swimmable more of the time.  We have had much fewer incidents of crumbling infrastructure that other cities, such as Wellington has had.  Auckland needs Three Waters less than any other part of the country.

But as an example of what will be required to provide drinkable water in the future Watercare has recently increased prices by 7% and is planning to implement increases of 9.5% each year for the next seven years.

Brown obviously needs to get a lawyer in his office.  Currently he has a spin doctor, a former New Zealand First MP and someone who previously worked for Crosby Textor.

This approach is Trumpian in its audacity.  But it is also deeply disrespectful to the Councillors.  This is a decision for them all to make, not Brown exercising a mayoral fiat that does not exist.

72 comments on “The Auckland Mayor’s powers ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    If it is yellow, let it mellow. It it's Brown, flush him down.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    The Trump analogy is apt.

    Guys like Hooten see Trump and the Brexit campaign as something to be admired and emulated. have no idea how to govern. What's more, they don't care. They just want to smash their enemies, real and imagined.

    They've got hold of the lolly shop via a septugenarian sock puppet and they are gleefully trashing the place. Once their gone they'll face no consequences. Hooten is a proven liar who routinely conceals his conflicts of interest , yet he is still regularly platformed in the MSM as a opinion writer in the Herald which also now breathlessly publishes whatever bullshit press release he puts out from the mayor’s office.

    a Oh and while we are on the Herald – Bernard Orsman "discovering" an ugly quartet of dirty National party operatives were behind what is clearly a desperately partisan new mayor some days AFTER the election? Do the Herald think I'm a fucking idiot? pull the other one. That information was IMHO deliberately suppressed to make sure people who don’t want a bar of dirty political operators didn’t know who was pulling Brown’s strings when they voted.

    Theses wide boys will try to lay waste to our institutions to further their stupid culture war and they'll get away with as much as they can. This sort of political gamemanship aimed at right's culture war enemies demands one response – a careful political program to bait Hooten/Brown until they got enough rope to hang themselves then sack Brown and appoint a commissioner.

    Unfortunately, our centrist Labour governments instinctive response to these issues is the same as the centrist response to the rise of right wing disloyalty everywhere – a paralyzed pearl clutching quelle horreur and an obsession with being the only side that still plays by the “rules”.

    This is exactly the same sort of lack of a muscular response to what amounts to right wing sedition as enabled Trump, Brexit and all the rest of it, but the centrists never get it.

    • Anne 2.1

      Unfortunately, our centrist Labour governments instinctive response to these issues is the same as the centrist response to the rise of right wing disloyalty everywhere – a paralyzed pearl clutching quelle horreur.

      It is leaving me ever more incensed. They seem to have lost their mojo or they are mixing with the wrong people. Whether one likes it or not you have to fight fire with fire – something this government seems to have lost sight of.

    • Ad 2.2

      +100

      Why Brown would staff up with operatives who are universally loathed in National for their multiple leadership coup betrayals – Tim Hurdle and Hooten – is pretty perplexing.

    • I will admit that "commissioner" sprang into my mind too

    • roblogic 2.4

      The safe centrist Left chooses the noble path of the Samurai, while their enemies rampage around the countryside shooting everything up with cannons and muskets. Useless.

      There is no honour in failing to fight, and then whining about fairness.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 2.4.1

        You mean Labour should follow the path of The Greens and try and cull any leaders with centrist tendencies .

        How did that work out?

        • roblogic 2.4.1.1

          Most of Labour is centrist, I would prefer they actually did some left wing stuff now and then.

          • Ghostwhowalksnz 2.4.1.1.1

            Compared to John Key centrism , they are left wing

            This is the 2020s , no ones is going to do 1950-60s left wing stuff anymore

  3. Wayne Brown will be a One Term wonder.

    Full of his own importance, piss and wind.

    • Dean Reynolds 3.1

      He's 76 years old with health issues – he may not make even one term.

    • Ad 3.2

      So was Trump, and Trump has permanently and massively altered the entire United States political economy.

      Plenty of damage you can do in a term if you put your mind to it.

      • roblogic 3.2.1

        Trump weaponised the worst conspiracy theories and poisoned the minds of half of America. Likewise, the Mayor of 1.8 million souls has a massive platform that he can use to build unity and hope for a brighter future, or something darker.

        Why Democracies Are So Slow to Respond to Evil

        Thread on the rise of Anti-Semitism in America…

        …the resurgence of hatred against Jewish people in any society is a bright red flag warning us that a portion of that society has become delusional, intolerant and willing to embrace authoritarians. It is a sign of deep dysfunction…

        • Drowsy M. Kram 3.2.1.1

          Just back from a short walk – spied a few thrushes and blackbirds aplenty (some lighter than others) hopping about in the partial sun, contesting the better worm-hunting possies. As for "something darker", something browner could be good.

          "Pay no attention to the man behind the screen"

          The Cheshire Cat effect
          Each eye sees two different views of the world, sends those images to the visual cortex where they are combined, and creates a three-dimensional image. The Cheshire Cat effect occurs when one eye is fixated on a stationary object, while the other notices something moving. Since one eye is seeing a moving object, the brain will focus on it, causing parts of the stationary object to fade away from vision entirely.

          Where did that Jabberwock go? Behind you… BEHIND YOU!!!

  4. Leo 4

    brilliant! maybe i'll put up stickers of Wayne in all the toilet bowls in my next hospo establishment.

  5. X Socialist 5

    ''The lawyer in me wondered how he could do this. ''

    ''This approach is Trumpian in its audacity. ''

    Brown is gesturing. He becomes a hero for standing up to the gummint over 3 Waters. There's little risk. This government will be gone next year.

  6. Ad 6

    I don't understand why the Labour leadership in Wellington didn't come out for Efeso Collins, real strong and with money and with joint media appearances. In particular Ardern and the other Auckland-based MPs.

    They just let Efeso swing so now they they've lost Auckland politics to this guy, and this guy is going to do all he can to wipe Labour out in 2023.

    • Sanctuary 6.1

      "…I don't understand why the Labour leadership in Wellington didn't come out for Efeso Collins…"

      Well the Labour party wanted Richard Hills to run for mayor, a middle class centrist machine politician with the bonus of being gay was always what Labour would have preferred.

      My guess is it was a case of old fashioned preferring to stay in charge of the losing side to losing control of the winning one.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 6.2

      MAYBE YOU DONT FOLLOW THE NEWS

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/462465/labour-endorses-efeso-collins-for-auckland-mayoralty

      [Please don’t shout – Incognito]

      • Incognito 6.2.1

        Mod note

      • Ad 6.2.2

        Endorse does not equal support. And he had to beg.

        • Ghostwhowalksnz 6.2.2.1

          It does mean support .

          'He said the endorsement followed a thorough process and he was "gratified" to receive Labour members' support'

          Mayors are generally independent campaigns where they raise their own money and have their own policies. They arent Mps after all, who are 'chosen' by the party first.

  7. Peter 7

    There'll be those who love the Trumpian approach. They love that approach from Trump. They'd love it from anyone.

    Oh, except when they don't like it. If Jacinda Ardern went Trump, went on the dictatorial rampage they accuse her of being engaged in, they'd go off their heads.

    She might have the weight of Parliament behind her but they'd go crazy. We'd have the hollering about 'consultation' of course. From those who the rest of the time complain about investigation and discussion and working parties, consultation, instead of action.

    Due process? Rules, regulations legislation? DownTown Brown comes along and the zb mob is all afever about action, bugger the norms. Ardern trying the same approach, the gallows would be readied.

    • Ad 7.1

      You missed the bit where Ardern assumed masdive executive powers for half a term and had several hundred people protest against those powers at Parliament.

      They'd've done the same for any PM.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 7.1.1

        The Government has always had massive executive Powers , and what they do , and the courts have confirmed this is done as provided for in the legislation.

        You dont seem to realise that the part of the Government that runs the country is called Executive Council for a reason

      • Peter 7.1.2

        You missed the bit where Brown demanding what he's going do before even formally meeting with those who are actually going to make the decisions, is more than slightly different than the 'The Government' as a whole or the Executive making decisions.

  8. Corey Humm 8

    Every election I have a good laugh about mayor's and city council candidates running on platforms and how tell the public they are gonna change things as if they truly believe they have some executive power.

    Mate you're just a glorified city councilor with single vote in a council with a few extra powers like appointing boards and panels.

    It's a shame that post 2017 the labour government didn't put a civics class in our school curriculums because by golly do the citizens but more importantly the politicians and would be politician's need an understanding of how government operates.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Auckland Council Mayor has a major power you arent aware of

      https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/mayor-of-auckland/Pages/mayors-responsibilities.aspx

      Seems like it matches more what Brown is doing than you think

      The mayor’s responsibilities include:

      • promoting a vision for Auckland
      • providing leadership to achieve the vision
      • leading the development of council plans, policies and budgets
      • ensuring effective engagement between Auckland Council and Aucklanders.

      Maybe you would like to walk back your claims which date to before the super city.

      Especially holding the budget power , a bit like a Minister of Finance does ?

      • woodart 8.1.1

        no. he is still just one vote at council meetings. mayors dont have that much say in changing things by themselves. witness what has happened at invers council over the last few years. auckland mayor is no different.

  9. Incognito 9

    It’s a shot across the bow but Wayne has jumped the gun; Council controls the CCOs and Wayne thinks he controls Council. Only in Wayne’s world.

    He shows his weak hand by the way he’s using public pressure to get what he wants, i.e., the action of a bully.

    Anywho, here’s the letter in full:

    https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/news/2022/10/all-work-on-three-waters-to-stop/

    Enjoy!

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      Even the Council website says he can do the things he is doing

      I get that people think hes getting ahead of himself before being sworn in ,and certainly many things require a resolution of the full council

      But hes certainly made clear his vision and giving the leadership to achieve those visions.

      After even Goff opposed the 3 waters initiatives , so the new Mayor doing so is nothing new.

      • Incognito 9.1.1

        Sure, but where does it say that the Mayor can rule CCOs by decree?

        Did you like his ‘open letter’? Did you fact-check it?

        Is ‘governing’ through open letters the new open government that promotes transparency and accountability or is it a form of aggressive bullying?

        • Ghostwhowalksnz 9.1.1.1

          Of course . see my facts further down at 4PM about the Councils powers over the CCOs

          I do say that he cant rule by edict too.

          But also note my other fact from the councils website on what the Mayors responsibilities are

          Hes certainly doing the 'vision and leadership' thing, and of course even with Goff the council opposed 3 waters. So maybe the council already had passed a resolution opposing 3 waters .

          Maybe its your turn to fact check ?

          • Incognito 9.1.1.1.1

            I do say that he cant rule by edict too. [sic]

            Gaslighting much? Do you know the meaning of the verb rule?

            Maybe its your turn to fact check ? [sic]

            You either did not read the letter or took it as Gospel or both.

  10. Maurice 10

    …. and just like that he inhabits a little corner in the Left lobe of the brain rent free.

  11. Chris 11

    The guy's a megalomaniac. At least Muldoon had the mechanism to repeal the compulsory superannuation legislation after 'declaring' it void and 'ordering' officials not to implement it. Brown doesn't have anything like that behind him. He's just a mayor, that's it, with a divided council to boot. It's going to be fun watching his probably slow but sure demise. It mightn't even be that slow if he keeps the behaviour up. Wonderful, really.

  12. Seen on WB's office door laugh

  13. Ghostwhowalksnz 13

    Mickey , you left out another part of the Local Government Auckland Council Act

    58 Auckland water organisation must give effect to LTP and act consistently with other specified plans and strategies of Council

    (1)An Auckland water organisation must give effect to the relevant aspects of the LTP.

    (2)An Auckland water organisation must act consistently with the relevant aspects of any other plan (including a local board plan) or strategy of the Council to the extent specified in writing by the governing body of the Council.

    The Mayor Elect quite rightly cant issue edicts , and as Brown hasnt been sworn in yet he has no powers.

    It seems that the first meeting of the council will be very interesting as he will no doubt want 'plans and strategys ' be be issued in writing which have legal force for Water

    • Ad 13.1

      Watercare are a kingdom that doesn't care a fig about Council. Its had 30 years of corporate independence.

      Even if 3Waters dies they'll still probably take over the wee Northland precincts, adding to North Wsikato.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 13.1.1

        Wellington Water runs one of more of the Wairarapa councils water services, as well as the metro wellington ones. I understand its by choice of the councils

        Thats what CCO are designed to do

  14. tinderdry6 14

    "Brown obviously needs to get a lawyer in his office. "

    He already has one.

    "Meanwhile, Brown’s campaign media manager Ben Thomas and campaign manager Chris Matthews are listed as political advisors and Max Hardy an advisor, although he is working for the law firm that has provided advice to Brown’s campaign."

    Hardy is a partner at Meredith Connell, the high-profile law firm that holds the Crown Warrant. Hardy’s profile page on the firm’s website states: “Max and his team know Wellington intimately, and how policy is made and legislation, regulation and decisions happen.”

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 14.1

      The previous council voted against 3 waters changes

      The Minute is linked here

      https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2021/09/GB_20210923_MIN_10140.HTM#PDF2_ReportName_82418

      Brown is just instructing Watercare to follow the previous Council resolution as they are legally obliged to do so.

      See Local Government Auckland Council Act

      S 58(2)

      An Auckland water organisation must act consistently with the relevant aspects of any other plan (including a local board plan) or strategy of the Council to the extent specified in writing by the governing body of the Council.

      It seems that most of the comments questioning Browns ability over issuing 'edicts' dont realise the necessary resolutions were passed by the previous Council!

      Mr E Collins wasnt listed as present for that meeting on 23rd Sept 2021

      • tinderdry6 14.1.1

        I agree. My understanding is that Wayne Brown has done his homework and knows exactly what he can and cannot do. There may well be some posturing, but Brown has made his agenda very clear, and all power to him.

      • Incognito 14.1.2

        Brown referred to the previous Council vote in his open letter.

        Where (which resolution(s)) did the previous Council agree to instruct Watercare to stop working on Three Waters Reforms?

        • Ghostwhowalksnz 14.1.2.1

          I would think his instructions follow from the councils previous resolution opposing 3 Waters

          The legislation says Watercare 'must act consistently' with the councils resolutions.

          Thats been one of the issues with all the CCOs and port , Council hasnt been more direct with its requirements and has just left the boards to follow their own version of what needs to be done.

          Thats going to change

          • Incognito 14.1.2.1.1

            I would think his instructions follow …

            Enough said.

            • Ghostwhowalksnz 14.1.2.1.1.1

              S58 of the Watercare legislation

              'An Auckland water organisation must act consistently with the relevant aspects of any other plan (including a local board plan) or strategy of the Council to the extent specified in writing by the governing body of the Council.''

              Brown is just saying what the Council previously has – in a more wordy and ambivalent way- wanted

              The council passed a resolution- in writing- which gave its strategic direction which it seems they werent following. Brown has spelled it out

              The broader issue really is that these are mostly 'commercially' oriented directors who have positions where they arent subject to oversight from another organisation. They consider they are the best judge of what to decide . CCOs arent truly independent as the Council should exercise more active supervision

              • Incognito

                Clearly, I was referring to:

                Resolution number GB/2021/110

                MOVED by Mayor P Goff, seconded by Cr L Cooper:

                Where does the [previous] Council agree/decide that Watercare should stop working altogether on the Three Waters Reforms?

                If you cannot answer the question, just say so, instead of wasting my time.

                • Ghostwhowalksnz

                  Dont know what a strategy is do you , thats how you are wasting your own time

                  'act consistently with other specified plans and strategies of Council'

                  Thats been the problem all these years they dont 'act consistently' at all and the council hasnt cared. Although AT is the bigger issue but there he just wants them all gone .

                  Brown is the first one to say they arent acting in the manner required by law and GIVE them a direct order based on the previous council resolution. No doubt he will get another from the new council, as it was overwelming vote against last time.

                  Thats not to say 3 waters isnt a useful template for other parts of NZ

                  • Incognito

                    sigh

                    The WSE Bill has not yet been passed in Parliament but this is likely to happen later this year or (more likely, IMHO) early next year. In the lead up to WSE, 2 other Bills have already been passed:

                    1. the Taumata Arowai Bill
                    2. the Water Services Bill

                    Neither you nor Brown can ignore these Bills and the direct and indirect implications & consequences of these for Auckland.

                    Anywho, there’s a process that even Brown (i.e. the whole Council) must follow, but he and his advisory team seem to think that they’re above that and can rip up the rulebook.

  15. Meanwhile in the rest of NZ we are agog that Auckland now has its very own Trump-ette with scant regards for legalities.

    What crazy task is he going to be involved with today?

    What crazy misunderstanding of the law is he going to initiate today?

    Will he ever wear white shoes and 'gangster' pinstripe suits?

    Hair dye? Beard dye?

    On a serious note a very wise politician I once worked for said you've lost it when people laugh at you rather then with you.

    PM is meeting him shortly. Hopefully he will not be crass and rude. Will he bring his whole inner office to Wellington to meet her? Does he need his own plane perhaps Numpty1?

    smiley

    • Peter 15.1

      "Meanwhile in the rest of NZ we are agog that Auckland now has its very own

      Trump-ette with scant regards for legalities."

      The USA version included scant regards for realities too of course.

      Brown is going to "fix it." Easy to say, easy to parrot, easy to remember, easy to fixate on.

      Trump was going to "Build the wall." Easy to say, easy to remember, easy to parrot. How did that go?

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 15.1.1

        Completely false .

        Brown is only making clear what even the previous council had a majority vote against ….in a long detailed resolution. Three waters. ( there may have been other votes apart from the Sept 2021 instance)

        Watercare under its legislation is obliged to act on the Councils strategy

        Plus the Council itself says the Mayors 'job' is to provide his vision and leadership for the city. I dont agree with all his vision but he won the election not me.

        • Incognito 15.1.1.1

          ( there may have been other votes apart from the Sept 2021 instance)

          Indeed, and it doesn’t confirm any of your or Brown’s reckons.

          https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2022/06/GB_20220623_MIN_10155.htm

          • Ghostwhowalksnz 15.1.1.1.1

            Its merely saying they have submissions to the select comitte process.

            The Councils opposition to 3 Waters – for Auckland, remains

            Watercare did a lot of work after the Super city began on the smaller communities on Auckland fringes who were previously badly served by the 'rural' councils Rodney and Franklin.

            Im sure 3 waters will do a lot for many smaller communities around NZ . But its not necessary for Auckland.

            Whanganui for instance built a major water treatment plant across the river , it was designed badly and smelt up the whole area amoung other failings. They used outside consultants and the end result was as much money again was spend to replace some of the treatment process

            Hastings of course killed some of its residents and poisoned many others because its lack of expertise in managing its fresh water bores.

            The list is long of the various failings even fair sized cities face.

            • Incognito 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Its merely saying they have submissions to the select comitte process. [sic]

              Exactly! And they come out of thin air or someone, e.g., Watercare has to prepare for these, as well as dealing with the Bills that have already been passed in the lead-up??

              It almost (!) sounds like you’re saying that Brown doesn’t want to go ahead with those submissions.

  16. James Simpson 16

    The Mayor by himself has some but not huge powers. Without a majority of councillors behind him his powers are relatively limited.

    That is the point I made before the election and you seemed to disagree with me back then Mickey?

    The difference between Simon Wilson and Mike Hosking

  17. skylark 17

    Of course Aucklanders are welcome to come and swim in our streams and harbours, and drink and cook with water that doesn't have the same infrastructure protection and investment that they have because our community can't afford to build for the holiday surges. (We stay out of the water and the surf when the Aucklanders arrive wink)

    • roblogic 17.1

      Yeah, that's the attitude of New Zealand south of the Bombays and it is crap.

      They are happy to take tourist $$$ but don't want to make any damn effort themselves. That's why 3 Waters is so vital.

      Auckland misses out again. We carried everyone during Covid. We have a functioning water supply. We pay more in tax than Wellington gives back. And now the politicians want to re-start mega immigration for "growth", which will all end up in Auckland making everything more expensive and difficult.

      Thanks for nothing.

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