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Local governance expert warns Auckland to speak up


Local governance expert warns Aucklanders to speak up or lose out

If Aucklanders want a world-class city, they need to do something about it, says a local governance expert.

Director of AUT University's Local Government Centre Peter McKinlay says decisions about your neighbourhood, local shopping centre, or street all start with local government, and Aucklanders need to get involved in the debate if they want change.

He says Auckland should be the star in the New Zealand economy. "It should be internationally known for its lifestyle, productivity, high skill levels and creativity, quality of education and much more. But we are falling behind badly on all of these. Turning it around needs a collective effort from the entire Auckland community, regardless of ethnicity, wealth or social class."

McKinlay's advice comes after the Local Government Centre's submission to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance.

Submissions closed last week but McKinlay says Aucklanders still have a significant role to play in the shaping of their city's future. "The Royal Commission is just the first stage in a process. If change is to be made, legislation will be required. People should be gearing up to make sure central government politicians understand their views."

But, he says, the challenge lies in educating people about their role. "Dealing with the important issues demands strong communities," he says. "That requires local government structures and practices which encourage active community engagement, but that can only happen if people believe their views will be listened to and respected."

He adds that most of the difficult issues we are facing as a nation - in particular, economic and social development - need to be dealt with locally. "Access to affordable housing, social inclusion, what to do about disaffected youth, graffiti, people who feel excluded from society , an ageing population and so on, if they can be resolved at all, will only be resolved by building strong coalitions at a local level."

McKinlay also makes a strong case for community boards in his submission. "The actual control of what happens should be in the hands of the communities who feel the impact. What a community board should be able to do is allow choices to be made locally, by people who are known locally."

ends

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