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.