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Governance Structure Requires Input From Community

28 September 2006

Auckland Governance Structure Requires Input From Community Stakeholders

Manukau City Councillor Su'a William Sio is calling on the Auckland region's political players to ensure wide and fair public consultation including input from its diverse communities, particularly Maori, Pacific and Asian, regarding the Mayoral forum's resolution to develop a proposal for strengthening Auckland region's governance structure.

"Our diverse communities want any final decision on the future governance of the Auckland region to be of high quality."

This can only be achieved if the process undertaken to reach that decision includes participation that is truly representative of all our diverse community stakeholders, particularly Maori, Pacific & Asian communities."

"We will also only achieve commitment from the people of this region if we do the right thing by developing a collective vision for our future destination as a region, first and foremost. We need to consult widely with all our stakeholders, and take the time in doing this to ensure we are taking everyone with us on this journey."

"It's like any journey into a far off destination, in this case the future of the Auckland region. People will only get on board the canoe if they know the destination or the end outcome of the journey. And if you want people to cooperate and to be paddling in the same direction, everyone has to be part of the decision making process."

"Most people in this region agree that there is a need to re-look at how we might better deliver improvements in the four key wellbeings for our communities, especially the social, cultural, environment, and economic wellbeings."

"If we put people first (because that's what this is all about), then we ought to do this properly and make sure everyone participates."

"There is no need to rush this process but it should be a deliberate and determined process."

Additional Information

1. Manukau City Council Debated this issue for the first time at its Full Council meeting 28th September 2006.

2. Councillor Sio's responses in blue to questions put to him by Manukau City's Times Newspapers Chief Reporter Phil Taylor, dated 11th September 2006.

The super city idea/concept has been around for some time. The subject again came from relative obscurity recently, got picked up by some media and thrust on the public news agenda. Did that surprise you?
I was not surprised that the super city idea was hurled into the public arena again, but I was surprised by the alacrity with which it appears to have been supported by key players around this region, and from elsewhere, despite the fact that in Manukau for example, the full council has not made any formal decisions or debated this issue formally. Did any of the current mayors declare their intentions to form one city during the 2004 local government elections? Where did they receive their mandate to implement this concept?
What's wrong with the Auckland region's present local government structure?
All democratic organizations by their very nature, of serving the public using public funds, and making sure that there are transparent & open processes, require constant review & improvement. The major challenges facing the region - transportation, employment & economic, population, infrastructural challenges, technology, and social & cultural diversity - have not (by all appearances) been dealt with efficiently and adequately by the regional leaders. In other words, what most people have seen is that there has been no leadership drive, no connectivity, and a lack of quality judgement around decisions about the region's major challenges.

There are claims of new structures delivering greater efficiency. How can that be, when considering every officer in local government nowadays, from the chief executive down, is asked to deliver greater efficiencies in reducing costs on ratepayers and the organisation?
Claims of new structures delivering greater efficiency can best be described as humbug and poppycock. We need to be asking who is behind the recent emergence of the super city idea? What are their interests? How will they benefit from this concept? The answers to these questions will provide more clarity on what is really in store for the general public. The general public has yet to have their input into their processes, and they'll let us know how they feel about these claims.

At best estimates, the workload of Auckland's local government won't reduce. If anything, it will become larger, in relation to growth predictions. So, if there are any savings to be made, they could be found by reducing the amount of salaried or paid elected members. But with a rising population, this would reduce the level of political representation for the average resident, while elected members would be representing more people. What do you think?

My personal experience in the private sector has been when you amalgamate several organizations, you then have to get rid of various leadership position or various operational units for the sake of ensuring efficiencies. Amalgamating the Auckland region's local councils could mean a loss of ward representation. In Manukau we currently have 8 wards.

There are questions whether these wards will retain their current form and shape. There is greater potential for the loss of political perspectives/representatives on special issues and from specific communities such as Maori, Pacific, Women, Youth, and People with mental & physical disabilities, and Asian communities. There is greater potential for concentration of power amongst a small group of business and wealthy individuals.

What role will the city councils perform if there is a Lord Mayor and a governance structure of elected and appointed individuals?

Who gets to appoint the appointed members? If there is to be one city, with one rating system, what will then happen to our unique way of doing things or the Manukau way? Manukau has free access to swimming pools, free access to our parks, and mostly free parking space in most shopping areas. I suspect we will lose all this. The current local councils will inevitably take on the roles as delivery agents for the greater regional council.

What do you favour?

A) - The status quo - I favour the status quo, but we need to discuss as a region how to unite our efforts & provide good judgment on how to meet the challenges of this region.
B) - A three-city model
C) - One 'super' city
D) - Something else (please state)


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