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The fightback begins

Written By: - Date published: 7:33 am, April 18th, 2009 - 22 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack, national/act government - Tags: , ,


This morning I picked up the local newspaper out of the mailbox – Harbour News. On the front page was this extraordinary editorial – “Who stole our Voice“.  The editor of the Harbour News tears Rodney Hide and the NACT government a new excretory orifice.

Harbour News Editorial

This is what is coming from the ground up all over the city and from people and groups across the political spectrum.

The maniacs of the right keep trying to portray opposition to Rodney idiotic super-city as being from soon to be ex mayors and councillors. They are wrong. What they are starting to get is a widespread opposition from anyone who thinks about the governance of Auckland. The Royal Commission’s researched proposals had problems, but Rodney scrapped those.

Rodney has put together an un-researched, badly thought out, and just plain unworkable set of proposals where he really just hasn’t bothered to ask or listen to anyone about the many defects. Now he and the rest of the NACT government will attempt to ram them through parliament in their usual undemocratic style.

Time to fight back. Write or e-mail your Auckland NACT MP and tell them exactly what you think about the proposals.


22 comments on “The fightback begins”

  1. Bill 1

    Good luck to those involved in opposing the s.city crap.

    Proposing an alternative ( or a raft of alternatives) would give far greater weight to the opposition of the S City nonsense.

    The simplest alternative would appear to involve an insistence that the Local Boards ( They currently constitute the base of the pyramid?) are the entry point for any funding/ revenue collection and that it is they who then make the decisions that are pertinent to their constituency; that they pass a stipend and directions on up the pyramid for decisions with a wider impact in an attempt to make democracy relevant and accountable at a local level.

    No need for commissions or enquiries. No expensive ‘professional’ planners. Just get people engaged and get ideas flowing.

    Before Rave gleefully jumps on me for advocating Democratic Centralism, I’d better point out that it simply seems the easiest of alternatives given the situation…..a starting point that people can easily grasp and use as a platform or entry point to discussion and debate that could lead to more substantive and inclusive forms of democratic governance…ones that cannot be captured by the actors occupying the positions towards the apex.

    • lprent 1.1

      I like Rudmans idea. Simply elect ward councillors on the same boundaries as the general electorates. They are about the right size and would give a council of 22 or so councillors.

      Then put the local boards inside those boundaries. That’d provide the structure to get effective feedback and local representation because the councillor would gte worried about a local challenger if they get too far out of touch.

  2. mike 2

    “This is what is coming from the ground up all over the city and from people and groups across the political spectrum.”

    From where I sit in Chch it seems like a hell of a good idea and seems to have had more positive than negative feedback.
    But if you must turn it into a left V right thing good luck – hey you are due for a win Personally I don’t think I would like Andrew Williams in my corner though – the mans a paranoid freakshow..

    Captcha: the change – and one for the better probably

    • Quoth the Raven 2.1

      mike – Shouldn’t you hate centralisation or is centralisation only bad when the left do it?
      Decentralisation is, as always, what is needed.
      And I’m siting in Christchurch and I know a lot of people who think it a stupid idea, even people who are reflexively National supporters.

  3. lprent 3

    mike – I like the idea of the super city. It makes sense at many levels. But this isn’t a smaller city. It has a population of 1.4 million.

    What I don’t like (and most people don’t) is the absolutely stupid plan that Rodney Hide has put up for how the super-city is to be elected. It is fundamentally stupid.

    Because of the nature of concentrating power, it has to be carefully thought through to make sure that it doesn’t become a self-perpetuating clique of people capable of raising the vast amounts of money to fight campaigns every 4 years. The electorates that he is proposing are either 110,000 voters or 1.4 million. To give you an idea a typical general electorate has about 45,000 people in it.

    Rodney made a sop to ‘local’ representation with the local boards. Since they are absolutely powerless, it was simply a cynical political gesture.

    • mike 3.1

      “But this isn’t a smaller city. It has a population of 1.4 million.”

      I lived in Melbourne (around 4 million) for years and they do fine with 1 Lord mayor.
      If you are going to consult to the inth degree with 7 city councils/mayors it could take years and get sidelined by another Govt. Hide is going bang and sorting out the detail later. Same result in the long run.

      • lprent 3.1.1

        The mayor isn’t the issue. In fact I really couldn’t give a stuff about it provided their powers aren’t dictatorial.

        The issue is with having 20 councilors elected on extremely large electorates. I’d bet that Melbourne had a lot more councillors than about 50. If they didn’t they weren’t directly elected, but were put forward by a lower group.

        We elect electorate MP’s with a voting population of about 45,000. Why does this stupid proposal want to elect councillors from a voting population of more than twice that. Or for that matter, the at-large ones with 1.4 millon voters.

        It is fundamentally ridiculous.

  4. Nick 4

    The front page story contained as many inaccuracies as it did inflammatory statements.

    The overall theme, that the government is “stripping” democracy from residents, is absurd. However it is not surprising this was written considering the same ridiculous claim has been excitedly made by local mayors.

    Contrary to Mr Kemeys claim, the Royal Commission’s position has not been “dumped”. The Auckland Council remains. Its ability to decide plans and own current council assets remains. One levy of rate for the Auckland region remains. A single Mayor with executive powers remains.

    The only real changes (all two of them) actually enhance democracy, rather than strip it away.

    The proposed local councils were too far removed from the community. To improve this a plethora of local boards has been recommended. This makes local politicians much more in tune with residents and is more democratic. How this “strips” away the local voice, as also claimed by Manukau Mayor, Len Brown, is baffling. Further, the government has reduced the number of elected-at-large councillors from 10 to 8. Again, that enhances democracy. My feeling is that this number could be reduced further again if people submitted on this before the select committee instead of exhibiting the McCarthysim type behaviour of current.

    Mr Kemeys proclamation that the commissioners initiatives “meant local councils with real powers, community engagement and an effective voice” is patently incorrect. The commissiones proposed that all powers currently available to councils would be removed entirely! They would have been reduced to a rubber-stamping role only. And his further statement that a city of 1.4 million is controlled by 20 councillors and a Mayor is forgetful of the fact that 30 local boards, each with 4 members, adds 120 to this figure. It’s as if Mr Kemeys thinks that the current problem with Auckland’s governance is the community boards the way he forgets their existence, much like the commissioners did.

    However, I found the saddest part of the article was that Mr Kemeys did not propose or suggest a single initiative or solution. Everything was negative. The local meeting I attended during the week was much the same: nothing constructive was put forward. Unless you count “email bombing” government ministers, who simply engage an automatic forward function, as constructive.

    I can only conclude that it is little wonder the Auckland region has not progressed as much as it should have over the last 50 years if the prevalent attitudes have been those similar to Mr Kemeys and the local mayors.

    • lprent 4.1

      The proposed local councils were too far removed from the community. To improve this a plethora of local boards has been recommended. This makes local politicians much more in tune with residents and is more democratic.


      Those local boards have even less effective power than the current rather useless community boards. They are totally pointless. That was the fig-leaf that Rodney thought would placate people while he made a powerful council that depends solely on money for election campaigns.

      So you go campaign at the local level to do something. At the end they can’t allocate more money to a sector budget or raise taxes. Only the super-city council can do that.

      Essentially it is a plan to entrench a business clique and their puppets in charge of the city. If you cannot see that, then you are blind.

  5. Nick (not the same one) 5

    The whole super city process is a bit absurd when you challenge some precepts. Good examples are “bigger is more efficient” ;”less beaurocracy will occur”: “efficiency and lower rates is what the people want”……etc etc. Are they?

    What the super city is about is making it easy for certain sectors to push the community into the agenda and structures of sectoral interest groups. It has nothing to do with democracy, which is the single principle which will suffer most. Rodney Hide and his ilk believe democracy grows out of the folded notes in a wallet, and if you dont have them you should aspire to them by aligning yourself with the holders of the dollars in an attempt to get the scraps from the table. Fat chance, they trickle up, not down.

    • mike 6.1

      Yes but only one Mayor and no regional council.

      • DougL 6.1.1

        Not sure where you are getting your info from Mike but every one of these 28 Councils in Melbourne has a Mayor and a set of Councillors. There is also a State Government..

  6. ripp0 7

    Forgive me but this 30-something or other entities has the look of dots in join the dots art — to with the look (or form) of the city. Trojan horse style. A belly – perhaps in time revelling as the underbelly – opening up for its all-conquering force of eleven or so Mayoral advisers.

    Though, to be honest, I’d find it difficult to accept a certain guy – yeah the one sounding off so strongly in favor of unitary authority as future Auckland’s first Mayor – (what’s his name again.?) – as requiring any advisors.

    So staunch doth he sound.

    Positively withering upon the hardworking, highly indebted and jobs dependent masses…

  7. Nick 8

    Lprent, you don’t know what the powers of the local boards are, or will be, because the legislation has not been drafted. So the claim that they are “useless” cannot be based on anything but the silly media statements about brothels, dogs and liquor licencing. I prefer to wait and see. It will be imperative for the local boards to have budgets and enhanced powers, otherwise I agree with you – they will be useless.

    • lprent 8.1

      They are based on the documents at http://www.auckland.govt.nz/web/cms_rcauckland.nsf/weblivehome/$first?open

      I’d suggest that you read them – then you will be less ignorant.

      Sure they don’t state the exact powers, they do state the intentions. Specifically that local boards cannot change the budget allocations from the super-city council to suit local needs, cannot raise local rates without the super-city council passing them, have no effective leverage on the super-city council (what exactly does ‘input’ mean), and are in fact useless.

      To date in this thread you just show yourself as being very ignorant – it would have taken seconds to find that site. For implying that I should wait for legislation before opposing the concept, I’d say that you appear to be a gormless idiot.

  8. gobsmacked 9

    The critics of the Steamroller City don’t have to win. They just have to fight enough to be heard. To keep the issue alive.

    The government will almost certainly get its way (with minor amendments). Then in October 2010, a National/ACT mayor and council will be elected, on a minority vote. The undemocratic voting system (even worse than FPP) makes this highly likely.

    One year later, the Auckland region party vote will swing left, and may decide the election. Unlike the local elections, this will be MMP in action. Those South and West Auckland voters who didn’t turn out or even voted National for the first time in 2008, will be thoroughly pissed off and heading for the polling booths to take revenge.

    Election slogan: “The Queen St monarchy … off with their heads!”

    Thanks Rodney!

  9. gingercrush 10

    Nice theory Gobsmacked but those people won’t even care about the council. They certainly won’t vote in the council elections. And its likely they won’t even care to get their vote out in 2011.

    That is one reason I oppose council Maori electorates. If they can’t even get out and vote in a General Election. And that is evident when in some electorates there was just 10, 000 votes taking place. Then why will they get out and vote in council elections where even the general public don’t exactly get out and vote.

    As for the the whole Super City. In general its good. The at-large councillors are a problem but I don’t see them staying. All they have to do is get rid of them and the council will be similar to the General Electorate boundaries. I think the community boards will get some more additional power. In regards to Maori dissatisfaction. I wonder whether there can be some law passed or a committee set up where Maori are able to have a say on strategic assets and land in Auckland and that such a move in this area would likely be even better than having Maori Council seats.


    Oh and to Mike and Quoth. I too live in Christchurch and people I know don’t really care. But besides that. I generally find the people whom we surround ourselves typically aren’t a good place to garner actual opinion on things.

  10. gobsmacked 11


    The 2011 turnout will be double the 2010 vote.

    “They won’t care” has been the death-knell for many governments. Including the last one.

    Politics 101: understand the difference between abstract possibility and actual experience. Sure, not many people on the street are up in arms now about the Hide-ocracy. Once they’re living under it … very different story.

  11. gingercrush 12

    I would say one year isn’t a long enough time for the Super City to impact people. It also assumes the right will naturally win everything. I actually think the left are in a slightly better position. I think National/Act will make larger concessions than they are currently so some of the current concerns shouldn’t be a problem.

  12. ripp0 13

    I’d guess GC, for one, buys that 2 percent rates increase..

    Mind you gc often gives out an appearance of not knowing about two percent ‘promises’ (aka projections).. how could powers-that-be know let alone suppose such a figure.. for sure..?

    Sop.. anyone..?

    Another thing.. property values down some.. rates take up some.. go figure..

  13. rave 14

    Westies get out wearing black for the man with the Hide to wipe out our Westie heritage. How long before a barbie toll and beer tax kills off our lifestlye? How long before the city slickers are scrapping our trains and taxing our V8s? And claiming Hobsonville as part of the Port and forever delaying our airport? Never trust a man in a yellow jacket and black tights.


    Waitakere citizens are also waking up to the idea that “someone is stealing your city”.
    They will hold a rally and march from Corban Estate Art Centre to Waitakere City Council on Wednesday, 22 April, at 3pm.
    “Join us to celebrate the Best of the West and voice your opposition to the Government’s abuse of democracy and the loss of Waitakere’s identity in the new Super City model,” say posters around the West this weekend.
    The march is organised by the Community Coalition for Auckland.
    Contact: pat@communitywaitakere.org.nz
    See: http://www.cc4a.net.nz

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