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Giving Power to Local Boards

Palino for Mayor

Giving Power to Local Boards

July 2016

Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino today promised to restore local government in Auckland by restoring rating powers to local authorities.

The New Zealand Initiative’s latest report ‘The Local Benchmark – When Smaller is Better’, has confirmed what just about everybody in Auckland has been thinking: centralising local decisions in the hands of a large and unaccountable bureaucracy does not lead to better outcomes.

The promised gains from the Supercity, including lower rates, better decisions and a better Auckland have failed to materialise. Rates have increased massively, congestion has become worse, housing has got more expensive and local opinions have been silenced by an obstinate, overbearing centralised council.

We’ve had six years and the results are now tragically clear. The Auckland Council is process-driven, inflexible and unresponsive to what distinct communities really value. A bloated and complex bureaucracy has failed to engage on local issues and every objection, reasonable or not, has been labelled NIMBYism in an effort to enforce regional conformity.

The New Zealand Initiative’s report outlines some of the opportunities and benefits of having decisions made at local level, rather than by a central body. There are some valuable lessons from other parts of the world, including the failed amalgamation in Montreal. “Perhaps the most surprising part of this paper is the way that smaller local government sizes provide lower costs and more efficient governance than the bigger amalgamated councils. Auckland is not alone in failing to deliver its citizens a dividend from amalgamation.

Auckland would be better governed if it were treated as a region rather than a single Super City. Only those matters which are relevant to the region as a whole should be dealt with by the Auckland Council: a high level growth management plan built off local plans; regional arterials and public transport; and water services.

If elected Mayor I will return decisions to local communities through their local boards. The people living in communities know their communities far better than council staff ever will, and we should trust these our local board representatives to make the right decisions for their communities.

We cannot continue to treat Local Boards as a minor add on to the governance of our city. Len Brown’s administration has centralised decision making and centralised spending decisions, losing touch with the people in the communities they live in. To give Local Boards real power to make real decisions that affect their communities they must be given the budget to be able to spend in their area.

This is a firm pledge. Elect me mayor and I will allow your Local Boards to make decisions affecting your community. I will take budget away from council, and give it to Local Boards so they can make the decisions that are right for their community, said Palino.




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