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Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance

Strengthening Auckland’s Regional Governance

Media Release

Tuesday 5 December

One proposal before Councils for consideration

Councils in the Auckland region have the chance to demonstrate cohesive leadership and strategic thinking when they discuss and vote on a proposal that outlines what regional governance in the Auckland region could look like into the future.

John Robertson, Chair of the Political Reference Group, says the next 10 days are crunch time for the councils. They have already had a chance to feedback on an Issues and Options discussion paper which explored three options for change.

Today a document which outlines a single package of potential governance reforms is being circulated to all Auckland councils for their endorsement.

“This has not been an easy task,” says Mr Robertson. “The Auckland region’s current governance arrangements are highly complex but, when compared to the international stage, they are not uncommon.

“The councils have expressed general agreement as to why regional governance needs to be reviewed, but there has been no overall consensus about how this can be achieved.”

Contained in the proposal is feedback from the councils and an international commentator on the original three options, distilled down into two models. The paper further refines these models into one proposal.

“The challenge has been to move from the two models that resulted from the councils’ feedback, to one proposal which would make the biggest difference with the least cost,” says Mr Robertson.

“This proposal focuses on a single vision, voice and mandated leadership for the region. It will drive gains in transport, regional facilities and economic development, and social issues. It also encourages further consideration of shared services to drive greater efficiencies.”

The proposal includes the development of a stronger regional entity. This would be a directly elected regional council with a new name, potentially new representation arrangements, a broader role and responsibilities, and access to new funding sources as well as regional rates.

It would also include the establishment of a Regional Sustainable Development Forum, as a standing committee of the new regional council, comprising elected representatives from all the councils of the Auckland region, plus central government, and non-governmental representatives from time to time. This Forum would make recommendations to its members.

Mr Robertson says councils have indicated their support for a ‘One Plan’ for the Auckland region, which would enable regional strategies to be aligned and implemented.

Councils also agree that there would be significant gains from central government aligning more closely with the region.

“Our international commentator, Greg Clark, has indicated that Auckland is not alone in its drive to strengthen its regional governance, and that indeed it should do so if it wishes to equip itself to address current and future challenges and opportunities.

“He says the proposals developed in Auckland might well be regarded as an important step in ensuring governance arrangements in the Auckland region keeps pace with arrangements in other large OECD countries.”

Mr Robertson says the proposal being put to councils does not include changes to
territorial authority boundaries.

“This is our chance, as a region, to make significant and far reaching decisions about our governance structure,” he says.

Councils have until 14 December to make their resolutions on the proposal. These will then be delivered to the Government on 15 December.


Ends


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