Democracy Out Window When World Cup Comes Knocking
THE nationwide CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF COUNCIL RATES WITH A FAIRER SYSTEM INCLUDING RESTRAINTS ON COUNCILS ABILITY TO INCREASE EXPENDITURE WITHOUT THE SPECIFIC APPROVAL OF THE COMMUNITY
MEDIA RELEASE 8 November 2006
Statement from NoMoreRates.com founder/organiser David Thornton
DEMOCRACY GOES OUT OF THE WINDOW WHEN RUGBY WORLD CUP COMES KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.
RATEPAYERS WILL SUFFER IN REORGANISATION OF AUCKLAND REGION GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE TO DEAL WITH WORLD CUP.
As part of the preparations for Rugby World Cup 2011 the Auckland region is moving towards an upheaval in governance arrangements which will have huge impact financially on ratepayers and, in terms of democratic representation, will affect all residents in the region.
Speaking to Wellington Chamber of Commerce, on 7th Sept, Rugby World Cup Minister, and Minister of Economic Development, Trevor Mallard said,
“Governance changes in Auckland are key to ensuring the Auckland region is ready for the World Cup, but also critical for future planning and strategic vision”.
New governance arrangements are now under discussion in every council in the Auckland Region and an options paper has been sent out from a Joint Officials Group [JOG] for the councils to consider.
The three options range from a system of voluntary co-operation between councils through to a significantly enhanced Auckland Regional Council and local councils with vastly reduced powers.
So far only the ARC is contemplating calling for public submissions.
The ARC considered its position at a meeting today and is supporting the option which will give it greatly increased powers – including power to set rates region-wide.
The city and district councils seem to be divided internally between the less disruptive ‘voluntary’ option and a ‘shared binding decision making’ system through a new Regional Assembly.
It is difficult to imagine that a major battle on this issue, between the city and district councils, and the regional council, can be avoided.
Mr. Mallard told the Wellington Chamber of Commerce that, in relation to changes to Auckland governance, “Central government will back the changes that the region wishes to pursue and will legislate if necessary to support those changes”
The danger is that if the Auckland councils can’t agree it seems that central government may still legislate to impose a hugely empowered ARC to carry the economic development measures of which Rugby World Cup is to be the catalyst.
And such an enhanced arrangement will see all rates being levied by the ARC – which will see vast movements in the incidence of rates on individual ratepayers.
This governance process is going ahead at a rapid pace with final proposals to be out into legislation before Christmas.
The democratic process normally followed for major changes normally includes significant consultation and consideration prior to any draft legislation.
This time it is not.
It seems democracy goes out of the window when a Rugby World Cup comes knocking at the door.