The super-con

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, May 4th, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: auckland supercity - Tags:


Rodney Hide would have us believe that a supercity is the way of the future. He says “Auckland cannot become a world-class city without change”.

Funny, because it’s already the 4th best city in the world, along with Vancouver which is also not a supercity. Look down the list, there’s Wellington and Sydney also not supercities. The first supercity is Toronto at 15th.

The Toronto supercity was driven by the central government over the people’s will (they got referenda, they voted against it, they were ignored) and has been a complete failure. The Montreal supercity has been such a flop that the people of 15 councils chose to leave when given the choice.

It’s worth looking at some of the research on supercities, like this:

An analysis of US Census data indicates the reverse, that higher expenditures per capita are generally associated with larger municipal units and that consolidated governments are more costly than governments typified by multiple government units.

Many of the world’s largest and most successful urban areas have numerous local government units. For example, the Paris area has more than 1,300 municipal governments and the Tokyo area has more than 225.

And this on Toronto:

Finally, things are going from bad to worse. The city faces a projected budget deficit for the current fiscal year that is almost twice the Harris government’s phony $300-million savings. None of this is to deny that municipal amalgamations can produce economies of scale. They do though they are limited to the impact upon special interests. As city hall is moved farther away, voters have less control over what goes on. Moneyed interests find larger governments more accessible and thus more susceptible to their influence. This is not just Toronto; it is anywhere that human nature operates. The experience of large municipal amalgamations is clear. Toronto is just one of the more recent examples. Municipal amalgamations are virtually always sold on the basis of saving money. They virtually never do.

Of course, there are good arguments for and against a supercity, and just as many arguments about how one should be structured. But we should have this debate properly and with all the facts on the table to make sure we get it right.

What’s becoming clearer by the day is that Key and Hide are trying to pull a con job. No wonder they won’t let Aucklanders have their referendum.

15 comments on “The super-con”

  1. r0b 1

    Now that is food for thought. Excellent work Eddie.

    I must admit I’m a bit puzzled by Key’s unseemly haste here. By ignoring the Royal Commission and ramming the narrow NACT agenda through without a referendum, National are signing up to take personal ownership of everything that goes wrong in Auckland for the foreseeable future. Who needs that kind of grief?

    • Kevin Welsh 1.1


      “I must admit I’m a bit puzzled by Key’s unseemly haste here. By ignoring the Royal Commission and ramming the narrow NACT agenda through without a referendum”

      With $30 odd billion of assets available to be auctioned off to big business, then I think its question answered.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Yeah, as soon as this is through you can expect the Ports of Auckland to be on the auction block.

        Captcha: cheapen best – sounds like a NACT policy

  2. Brickley Paiste 2

    Where’s my hat-tip, bitches? No longer is the problem mainstream media stealing from blogs but rather bloggers stealing from their own comment-makers!

    Just kidding.

    I’m glad this is getting attention. I have a fellow Torontonian staying with me at the moment. The look on her face when I said Auckland was going to amalgamate was classic. But don’t they know!?! Har-de-dee-har-har.

  3. Eddie 3

    Sorry Brickley, did you mention it in comments? I knew I had seen mention of Toronto somewhere in our comments but forget to search for it.

    I’ll get that hattip up for you.

  4. “Auckland cannot become a world-class city without change’.

    So what was Labour’s original intention then?

    The problem with the faux outrage here is that Labour’s intention was remarkably similar. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Labour has been very adept at not stating what it’s policy is but have simply surfed along with the response to the haste of the implementation.

    The criticism prior to the election was that the opposition was simply opposing without putting up policy. That was a standard line here (small s, please note admin!).

    • Kevin Welsh 4.1

      Herceptin anyone?

    • r0b 4.2

      Labour’s intention was remarkably similar

      I think you can be 100% sure that Labour’s intention wasn’t the privatisation of Auckland’s assets. So that leaves exploring governance for the region – can it be made even better? Hence the thorough exploration and consultation conducted by the Royal Commission – which National threw in the bin to impose their own narrow agenda.

    • Akldnut 4.3

      As you say Daveski “National did it” and it worked for them. While the left were screaming foul we didn’t hear a peep from the right. Good for the goose, good for the gander – I Say!!!

  5. Brickley Paiste 5

    I really was just kidding…

    What about Atlanta? I remember at the time of Toronto’s merger, everyone was talking about how Atlanta merged and it was a disaster. Then we did it and it was as well. Might be worth a poke around.

  6. Zaphod Beeblebrox 6

    No body knows, nor is it particularly relevant to the issues at hand. The focus is going to be on who is paying for the transition costs? That is the big question coming from the punters.

  7. Could you please stop calling it a “supercity”? Even after this round of rationalisation it’ll only cover 1.4 million people. Vienna and Zurich are of a similar scale and they are above us in the ranking. Citiers of 1 to 2 million seem to do best
    I think getting rid of those tinpot fiefs, from Banksville to Browntown, is a great plan – as long as it has 30 beefed up community boards and 20 councillors elected at large from “ticket” lists so we can vote on policy instead of personality.

    Captcha: demand loving

  8. Irascible 8

    Rodney Hide would have us believe that a supercity is the way of the future. He says “Auckland cannot become a world-class city without change’.
    As soon as anyone uses this mantra one should realise that no real thought has gone into the speaker’s position or argument. It is the refuge of the confidence trickster who would sell off anything the gullible will buy even if it is not for sale.

  9. An interesting media statement from Rodney Hide on the issue today:

    Mr Hide said the Government’s legislative programme for Auckland governance would consist of three separate Bills. The first two Bills will be introduced to Parliament next week and the third Bill will be introduced later in the year.
    The first Bill will proceed under urgency and without Select Committee hearings. It will:
    1) establish the Auckland Council as a legal entity;
    2) establish the Auckland Governance Transition Agency (AGTA), responsible for rationalisation and transition to the new governance arrangements; and
    3) constrain the decision-making powers of existing Auckland councils and their subsidiaries.

    The second Bill will proceed through a Select Committee process ending in September. It will:
    1) provide for the high level framework for the structure of the Auckland Council eight members elected at large and 12 members from wards, and 20-30 Local Boards including their high level functions;
    2) empower the Local Government Commission (LGC) to determine the boundaries of the wards of the Auckland Council and the Local Boards, and the Boards and their membership; and
    3) provide for the integration of Auckland’s water infrastructure.

    A third Bill will be introduced later this year to provide for the ongoing governance structure, functions, roles and powers of council and local boards, and detailed legislative framework for governance arrangements.

    So… the councils are going to lose a heck of a lot of their power due to a bill passed UNDER URGENCY. And we’ll also know the basic structure of local government, as detailed in a bill, by the end of next week.

    I wonder how much the councils will be limited in what they can do. Geez, they’re gonna squeal.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.1

      Its interesting to note that the local boards have moved beyond grafitti and rubbish. They will need to put in an annual submission for spending in their locality and will have input into plan changes. i take this to mean that they will need to employ staff or hire consultants.
      I can’t help feeling that we will be settling a another adversarial process between the boards and the council. This will be especially so if we have a large number of ward coucillors, who will have no affinity to any particular area.
      I’m thinking or areas such as Orewa and Swanson and any number of localities where the Auckland council will be keen to promote development to justify things such as transport or sewerage expediture with increased zoning densities. They will be too small to have much electoral clout especially when the mayor and council see the potential for development

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