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Auckland Mayoral Forum - Chris Fletcher Address

Mayor Auckland City Chris Fletcher

Auckland Mayoral Forum - Governance and Funding Address to: Prime Minister, Helen Clarke and Government Ministers. Friday, June 23 Auckland Town Hall

Aucklanders are often criticised for complaining to Wellington and not making a clear case for what we do want.

Our commitment is to Auckland, not to any political grouping. We would not be fulfilling that commitment unless we strenuously put our case for Auckland at every appropriate opportunity.

You are being given that message today. But our unified approach could be fragile unless there is urgent consideration given to our message.

Progress depends on our governance and funding ability, and government primarily determines this. We are a creature of statute after all - your baby.

So we need to implement solutions with you, if there is to be progress.

The new economy - based on knowledge, technology and city to city competition - demands that we participate; we fail to do so at our peril.

Auckland must be in a position to compete on a global front, to facilitate investment and deal with the affects of anticipated huge growth on our region.

Government must act, if we are to do all that is needed and expected by our communities.

We want:

Partnerships

Redefined and strengthened partnerships between central and local government - a new type of partnership with each party showing genuine commitment.

Our most urgent need is for a meaningful partnership with government to achieve solutions on traffic congestion.

Part of that is passenger transport, and an adjunct to that - a topical example - is addressing peoples' need to feel safe and secure about using passenger transport.

Unless passenger transport is safe people won't use it - high visibility Policing must be a priority.

The implication is that we need the government's commitment to adequate policing to work with us and passenger transport operators.

True partnership is also required for management of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Having gained this status, the Gulf requires government assistance on a level comparable to parks of national importance.

The region wants to play its part in managing this great asset alongside government, to deal with pests, weeds, pollution, issues of access and wharves.

Conversely, a number of the islands and parks in our region are owned by us and managed by the government, yet we do not get any rates compensation.

Governance

Central government must move on rewriting the Local Government Act to include a power of general competence.

We want consistency of treatment. You have advanced legislation in other areas where you believed you had a mandate - for example ACC, Education Amendment and Employment Relations Bills.

You also have a mandate on the Local Government Act. Why should local government be marginalised by different treatment? We want you to act now on your policy commitment to this legislation.

Current governance structures cannot adequately address issues that cross all our boundaries.

Earlier this year the mayoral forum issued a discussion document on the future of Local Government in Auckland to set the scene for debate.

Now we want to know what the Government's position is?

Regional growth pressures cannot be solved ad-hoc. Governance and sustainable funding must be resolved for our shared future.

The question is, how willing are you to help us help the region?

Central government's capacity to assist the region must be looked at.

Internal Affairs is not adequately resourced to deal with the complexity of policy and issues facing Auckland.

Integration of support across government ministries and agencies should also be addressed, to assist a coordinated programme of action.

Funding

Auckland has identified $7 billion dollars of infrastructure funding needed by growth and transport over the next 25 years.

Regional growth was an essential component of the Budget. However the Budget was largely silent on Auckland specific initiatives.

We need confidence in the quality of government spending, while looking to a significant increase in police, the region will get just 24 new constables.

Neglecting the Auckland region, the largest in the country, could have serious national consequences.

International experience shows that investment in transport infrastructure generates significant multiplier spending.

There is considerable scope for strategic spending on the Auckland transport network - this also applies to the Americas Cup Village.

Infrastructure Auckland is not the solve-all, cash cow, be it for rail corridors or the Americas Cup Village.

You can increase its effective spend by 12.5%, if you make grants exempt from GST.

Transfund's priorities and funding formulas must also be changed to allow capital investment in passenger transport.

We want a commitment from you on completing the Rating Powers Act. As part of this we want an increase in the current income limits, and the limits on the rates rebate scheme.

What is good for Auckland is good for New Zealand. If Auckland is doing well, the whole of the country is doing well.

You have to work with us in partnership to set the environment for growth and investment.

We welcome a new partnership with central government, to assist in taking action for the benefit of our communities and the whole of New Zealand.


ENDS

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