Why no referendum for Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, August 31st, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags:


How come the Government says that the people of Auckland should decide whether they want Maori seats in a referendum after the supercity is formed, but they don’t get to have a referendum on whether they want a supercity at all?

It’s clear there is widespread opposition to the plan to merge the existing councils into one and eliminate local democracy. The Government has totally ignored that opposition. Not only is it refusing to make any concessions to people’s concerns, it’s planned structure is actually less democratic than the one the Royal Commission came up with.

A referendum is the normal process required by the Local Government Act when councils merge. The Government is avoiding this requirement by passing an overriding law.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide is a big advocate of referenda on other issues. He championed the pro-smacking referendum and he’s proposing councils make greater use of referenda on spending issues. When it comes to the biggest reform of local government in 20 years, though, well that’s ‘too complicated’ for ordinary people to understand and a simple ‘do you support the Government’s proposal to establish a single Auckland Council?’ ‘Yes/No’ isn’t possible.

It’s not right. The people of Auckland should be allowed their say.

15 comments on “Why no referendum for Auckland”

  1. Bart 1

    I actually hope that your cries for a referendum on whether Aucklanders want a supercity are heard, because I believe that the majority of Aucklanders do want a supercity.

    “It’s clear there is widespread opposition to the plan to merge the existing councils into one and eliminate local democracy.”

    Perhaps in your circle of left leaning friends it is clear…those that I talk to tend to be in favour. I guess it is the company we choose to keep.

    • Quoth the Raven 1.1

      It is not just the left that opposes this centralisation effort. Many on the right also oppose it. If you like more and more centralised governence (think bolshevism) than so be it, but it is not really a left – right issue it is a authoritarian – anti-authoritarian issue.

      • Armchair Critic 1.1.1

        Spot on QTR. The government are legislating for more government, bigger government and less democratic representation. I don’t recall that in their pre-election promises. Unfortunately the proof won’t be evident until at least 2012.

  2. Bart 2

    One last thing..Aren’t you at odds with the previous guest post on the two referendum results where it is argued that the clear vote for “no” is infact not “clear” because “(1) The legal and social issues surrounding the referendum are genuinely complicated. In general only those who have made a particular effort to understand the issues have come to terms with them properly.”

    So if there were a referendum on the supercity and 88% say they do not want the supercity do I also get to argue that the legal and social issues around the referendum were too complicated and therefore the result is meaningless?

    • snoozer 2.1

      If the wording is clear, the wording is clear, and the outcome can’t be called into question.

      I don’t think anyone has argued there shouldn’t have ben a smacking referendum because the issue was too complicated – they argued the stupid wording of the question and the myth that smacking is banned calls into question exactly what people want as a result of the referendum.

      A yes or no vote on ‘do you want the supercity?’ would tellm you exactly what people want.

      • Bart 2.1.1

        Snoozer do you honestly believe that the referendum question on smacking somehow confused 88% of people and they therefore mistakenly voted no?

        “the myth that smacking is banned” – Is it, or is it not currently illegal for me to smack my child as part of correction. I somehow have to be able to catch my child about to hurt himself and smack him quickly before he actually hurts himself.

        • fraser

          ” before he actually hurts himself.”

          ok – not sh*t stirring – genuinely interested here – you smack your child for correction after they have already hurt themselves?

          • Bart

            Yea not shit stirring just being a wise ass?

            What i meant to say is that I have to somehow be able to catch my child about to potentially hurt himself and smack him, however if he does what it was that could have resulted in himself being hurt or killed like running onto a road then I cannot smack him. I also have to smack him just before he pushes his sister, but if he pushes his sister I cannot smack him. You know what I mean :p

            • fraser

              yeah you got me 🙂 – i was being a wise ass i spose.

              but it gets thrown up a lot (the “post smack” that is), and they all seem to fall into the “teach them a lesson” category.

              That bit i dont get – i mean the only lesson i learned was that its best to not get caught.

              also – scenario 1 youve outlined above is still legal (yes?)

      • Armchair Critic 2.1.2

        Using the word “supercity” in a referendum is like using the phrase “good parental correction”. I was never convinced smacking can be part of good parental correction, just as I am not convinced the reorganisation of local government in Auckland will make Auckland super.
        To have a referendum the question would need to read something like “do you support the proposed reorganisation of local government in Auckland?”. Of course there would need to be a firm proposal available for people to assess. Currently we don’t know many details, number of seats, ward vs. at large councillors, Maori representation, moves toward asset privatisation, boundaries of the city, it is all maybe or probably at present. So asking the question would be pointless.
        I’m still not convinced that such a wholesale reorganisation is warranted. The RC suggested cost savings (as a percentage) would not be huge, and I think they were exaggerating.

        • Bart

          To be fair, I think the term supercity refers to its size as opposed to making auckland ‘super.’

          I think what we will see is that some of those running for mayor will campaign on having maori seats, whilst others will campaign on not having maori seats. So in a roundabout way, Aucklanders are going to get their say.

          • felix

            I really hope you’re right about “super” referring to the size. Because if you’re not, the next step is calling it a “SuperDuperCity” and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of our local pollies thought that was a pretty neat name.

        • snoozer

          obviously the actual referendum wouldn’t use the term supercity.

  3. Bright Red 3

    public opinion is divided – the polls show an even split http://www.thestandard.org.nz/lost-in-translation/. even if most people support the supercity, and I don’t think they do, oppostion is widespread.

    There should be a referendum. I hope Labour will attempt to put it in the Bill when it comes back from select committee and put up a private members’ bill. One would hope ACT, if not National, would back a referendum.

  4. Find it quite strange that the standard is asking for a referendum, yet the last three big ones in the public eye, were dismissed as irrelevant.

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