Stronger Regional Governance in Auckland Elusive
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
7 December 2006
media release from David Thornton – founder, NoMoreRates.com
PROPOSED GOVERNANCE CHANGES IN AUCKLAND UNDEMOCRATIC AND LIKELY TO COST Â RATEPAYERS DEARLY.
Stronger Regional Governance in Auckland is proving as elusive as ever.
Councils are now considering a proposal from senior bureaucrats to put vastly increased powers into a new Greater Auckland Council – and specifically the power to levy and spend/distribute all rates within the region.
All the existing councils and community boards remain – but there is no detail of what these councils and boards will actually do.
Nor is there any detail of how many elected members the new council will have – which areas they will represent – whether there will be a four or five year council term – whether there will be a regional Mayor elected at large or by the council – whether or not there will be appointed ‘non-elected’ members from the business community – and a whole host of other gaps, in a proposal which is intended to be enshrined in a Parliamentary Bill before Christmas, and into law in time for an election in ten months time.
The business community, represented by the Committee for Auckland and the Chamber of Commerce, have been pressing for months to get major changes to the governance structure of Auckland’s councils – and they seem to have achieved a great deal without having to bother asking the ordinary residents, ratepayers and voters of the region.
Further pressure has come from central government through the Rugby World Cup debacle – with government trying to blame councils for being unable to agree on anything.
Again, the people of Auckland have not been consulted.
Ratepayers are again at risk – particularly from the proposal to have the new Greater Auckland Council Â as the sole collecter and major spender of rates.
This whole process is not in the interests of the citizens of Auckland – and could be hugely costly to ratepayers who will have little power to control expenditure.
This insane and reckless rush of change for change for change’s sake undermines local democracy to an extent which questions whether the business community and its political supporters have any respect at all for the institution of representative democracy.
There is certainly need for changes in governance to control the cost of local government in the Auckland region, but those changes must be achieved with the support of ratepayers and residents who have to pay the bills.
Changes without that support are undemocratic and will lead to futher unrest among ratepayers.