Super city Bill flawed and undemocratic
4 September 2009
Super city Bill flawed, undemocratic and without a mandate
The Bill setting up the super city remains undemocratic and still delivers our largest city a flawed governance model, says Labour Leader Phil Goff.
“This is deeply disappointing. Labour has consistently advocated for the reform of Auckland’s governance structures and set up the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance in order to ensure Auckland’s future as an internationally competitive, dynamic, socially inclusive city and region.
“But much-needed progress has sadly been compromised by bad decisions, poor process - including a sham consultation process - and a lack of vision.
“The result is an unbalanced model which centralises power in the hands of a privileged few. It is highly unlikely to achieve the Royal Commission’s goal of increasing community engagement in Auckland’s local governance,” Phil Goff says.
“Submitters forced the Government to give local boards more significant decision-making roles. But its determination to stick to its plan to establish 20-30 boards means they will be too small to have real influence and that communities of interest such as Manukau and Waitakere will be split up and disempowered,” Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.
“Significant opposition to at large councillors also forced the Government into a back down, but by encouraging large multi-member wards it has effectively re-introduced at large councillors via the backdoor. Large wards will favour those with deep pockets.
“The Government has done nothing to create a more balanced relationship between the new mayor and councillors, despite widespread concern by submitters that the mayor will have too much power,” Phil Twyford says.
“Labour is also concerned that too few councillors are proposed - which will undermine their accessibility and accountability to the public. There should be 25 councillors and there should be provision for Maori seats.
“The reform amounts to fundamental constitutional change for one third of New Zealand’s population and requires the consent of those directly affected,” Phil Goff says.
“Yet National used urgency to rush legislation through and took from Aucklanders the right to vote on the proposals in a referendum provided for under the Local Government Act (LGA). This leaves the changes without any mandate from those who will live under and pay for the new structure.
“This determination to ram through major change without proper public consultation has been further highlighted by its pre-empting of the select committee report-back over the past two weeks. Cabinet decisions have already been taken over the region’s boundaries without regard to local concerns and it has turned its back on submitters’ support of the Maori seats,” Phil Goff says.
“The Government's plan to carve off parts of Rodney and Franklin is a terrible mistake and will place the Hunua dams and some of Auckland's most precious parks outside the city limits,” Phil Twyford says.
“There is no protection against the privatisation of about $28 billion in assets which will transfer to the new Auckland Council.
“This isn’t a pie in the sky prospect. Local Government Minister Rodney Hide openly advocates privatising council assets and services and is due to present a paper to Cabinet proposing significant reform of the LGA by the end of the year.
“He wants councils reined back to the delivery of core services only. This second tier of reforms will fundamentally influence how the new Auckland council operates,” Phil Twyford says.
“Prime Minister John Key has backed Mr Hide’s mismanaged handling of the Auckland reform process, raising questions about his own leadership. Public concern will only deepen if Mr Key lets Mr Hide run riot with the LGA.”