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Consultation Sham

2 May 2002

Auckland City Council's hasty moves to call a special Council meeting this Friday 3rd May is yet again another example of their lack of adherence to democratic procedure. It is a weak and cynical attempt to show that it is meeting the requirements of the Local Government Bill in its determination to quickly sell off its strategic assets with as little public input as possible. The Bill is not even finalised so the Council cannot be sure what requirements it will need to work to.

Their proposal to conduct a special consultation process on the sale of pensioner and residential housing, airport shares, and the transfer of Oneroa's waste-water assets to Metrowater, in parallel to the annual plan, makes a mockery of what democratic procedures we do have and further erodes their credibility. The bare minimum of time of one calendar month has been allowed, from the date of public notice which they are proposing to place in the Herald next week, and which hardly anyone will see.

The accompanying report states that the Council "has already made a considerable effort to consult with the community.". Yet there was no mention of the Council selling pensioner housing on Auckland Citizens and Ratepayers Now's election manifesto, and something as significant as this needs individual and focused attention. Consultation is only just beginning, and that is through the very unsatisfactory forum of the annual plan consultation, where a wide range of issues are open for comment at once. There has been no opportunity to bring together those working in housing issues or the wider community to discuss the merits or impacts of these proposals.

"At the very least, these proposals regarding significant or strategic assets need to be withdrawn from the draft annual plan and put before the people at a later date in a manner which their significance warrants," says Sigrid Shayer, media spokesperson.

"The accompanying statements of proposal do not mention the empty residential properties which are about to be sold. Do they not also come under this supposed scrutiny? They claim that life time tenure is being offered to pensioners, yet this guarantee is only for 20 years and not for their existing home, only for a pensioner unit.

Their analysis of the impacts on the wider community of their proposals to sell their housing stock is non-existent and in no way can be said to provide the quality of work required. It is also debatable whether current tenants will benefit from the capital projects which use monies from these sales, particularly an expensive arena and convention centre, and toll motorways."

Ends

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