Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Time to move with a collective purpose Northland

Time to move with a collective purpose Northland

The Local Government Commission recommendation that all Northland be united under a single Unitary Authority has provided Te Tai Tokerau – Northland with an opportunity; an opportunity to build consensus on the top development priorities for Northland and to partner with Wellington to deliver on them.

The Local Government Commission no doubt wondered why Northland still needs its four current local bodies to cover a region with only 150,000 people, and whether efficiency in planning and implementation could be improved if they were replaced by a single Unitary Authority. It also considered the imperative to improve the economy and how local democracy could be improved.

Northland is not flourishing as it should. Infometrics quarterly results for Northland show unemployment at 9.1% (down from a peak of 9.8% in March) compared to 6.2% for NZ while internal migration and house prices continue to be stubbornly below national averages. Regional GDP at 2.2% is just below NZ at 2.6%. Recent highlights are that commercial building consents are up, 16.1% compared to 10% for NZ, and Northland is third in NZ in the six months to December for domestic visitor nights at 2.2million, 60 per cent of which were from Auckland. However average household incomes in Northland remain the lowest in the country.

The structure of the Northland economy needs to change for incomes to rise and for Northland to become one of the top performing regions. A reliance on commodities and tourism is not enough. This will require focus, investment and determination. In order to do this Northland needs stronger more determined regional governance. The best option for achieving this is one Council, one Mayor, one plan, one set of rules and an empowered regional development agency. This can be achieved, Auckland has proven it. And if it is achieved in Northland, Central Government will take notice.

Stronger more unified regional governance underpins better regional development; likewise stronger local governance can deliver better community outcomes. Getting both will be the trick.

The Local Government Commission has asked Northland to fill in the detail; community boards or local boards; how Maori can contribute in a more meaningful way to local government; how key operational, regulatory and service delivery functions can best be delivered; how assets are managed. But the headline is one unitary authority with a nod towards statutorily established Local Boards (meaning they have their own legal standing).

Local Boards with clear roles and functions, including strengthening local democracy, are the clearly favoured option. However there are a couple of hurdles to get over there; one of which is Central Government passing legislation to allow Local Boards in regions outside of Auckland. I believe this will happen, and then it will be important to ensure that Local Boards are the face of the new Northland Council at the local level. Likewise it will be important to ensure that Local Boards can represent their communities on matters of regional significance.

A statutorily established Maori Advisory Board, with representation on key Northland Council committees could provide stronger partnership between Council and Maori. The nature of representation on this board should be up to Maori to decide, but it needs to be high level. The potential of the Maori economy needs to be unlocked for the benefit of all in Northland and an integrated approach needs to be developed.

Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) provide the opportunity to gain economies of scale, efficiencies and effectiveness in Council operations. They also provide the opportunity to gain better governance through ‘fit for purpose’ boards being selected on skill and merit and better use of skills not normally found in Councils. Examples could be water and waste-water, transport, council owned investments and property, and economic development – predominantly those functions with a strongly commercial aspect. Longer horizons in planning and investment are a feature of CCOs and investment in regional infrastructure can become more aligned with region-wide and business needs. The regional economy is no respecter of local government boundaries; in fact it is often hindered by them.

A new Northland Council will have to ensure that there is an integrated and coordinated approach to development in Northland. This can be achieved by having one overarching plan for Northland - a spatial plan that all other plans drop out of and talk to. A plan that is driven by Northlanders, negotiated with Central Government and delivered in partnership. ‘The Northland Plan’ has a certain ring to it. I cannot see that being achieved in the current structure.

Northland Inc supports the local government commission’s recommendation for a single unitary authority in Northland. It is the best way to strengthen and diversify the economy, get better infrastructure, provide more and better jobs, higher incomes and to reduce inequality. It’s time to move with a collective purpose Northland.

Northland Inc is Northland’s regional economic development agency, a CCO of the Northland Regional Council.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Missed Opportunities: Amnesty International Report Card On NZ's UN Role

As New Zealand steps down from its month as President of the Council, Amnesty International has taken the opportunity to review New Zealand’s role on the Council so far and assess their performance and contribution to protecting human rights worldwide. More>>

ALSO:

Prince Charles Get More Jobs: PM Announces Honorary Military Appointments

PM John Key has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of HRH The Prince of Wales to three honorary positions: Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy; Field Marshal, New Zealand Army; Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. More>>

ALSO:

No TPP Deal: Gordon Campbell On Why We Should Still Oppose Investor-State Dispute Measures

Even in this dark hour for the TPP, the secrecy farce continues... What is left to hide? Every single negotiator went into those talks in Maui knowing exactly where everyone else stood. More>>

REACTION:

Salvation Army On Homelessness: Hard Times In West Auckland

The report details an uncomfortable story of people whose only option is to live an unhealthy, dangerous and damaging street life... The social housing needed by these people is not currently available in sufficient quantity. More social housing is required in the West. More>>

ALSO:

Message For PM: NZ Supports Te Reo Māori – You Should Too

As Māori Language Week celebrations and commemoration of 40 years draws to an end, the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, is once again hugely encouraged by the widespread support for Māori language from throughout the country ... More>>

ALSO:

Arming Police: Frontline Police To Routinely Carry Tasers

"In making the decision, the Police executive has considered almost five years worth of 'use of force' data… It consistently shows that the Taser is one of the least injury-causing tactical options available when compared with other options, with a subject injury rate of just over one per cent for all deployments." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On D-Day For Dairy At The TPP

While New Zealand may feel flattered at being called “the Saudi Arabia of milk” it would be more accurate to regard us as the suicide bombers of free trade. More>>

ALSO:

Leaked Letter: Severe Restrictions on State Owned Enterprises

Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act "on the basis of commercial considerations" and would be prohibited from discriminating in favour of local businesses in purchases and sales. Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news