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The Mapp Report - Last week of Parliament

The Mapp Report
www.waynemapp.co.nz

Last week of Parliament

What a year it has been. National maintained a consistent lead over Labour in virtually every opinion poll. As John Key put in during the adjournment debate; “Labour is a walkman government in an I-Pod age”. The public have a clear sense that the era of this Labour government is coming to an end. They have done what they set out to do, and have run out of ideas for New Zealand’s future.

One aspect of the year will go unlamented, and that is the level of personality politics, and every party carries some of this burden. There cannot be a politician, or indeed member of the public who would have thought that any of it enhanced our public institutions. We will all be anticipating a better standard for 2007. After all, virtually every politician has gone into public life to improve their country. Clearly they have different views and philosophies, and it is this we should be debating. Politics is a robust business, and foolishness, errors and venality will be exposed. But ultimately this is not what politics is about.

Much of Nationals success belongs to Don Brash. In just four and half years we went from 27 MPs to 48 MPs. Don challenged New Zealanders on the values that underpin our democracy, the rule of law, equality before the law and a clear philosophy. This confirmation on equality before the law in “Orewa I” will always be a clear reminder of the most important principle of democracy; that we are all equal before the law, and that we all should have the same rights in our government.

We now start a new era, with a new generation. They did not have to transform New Zealand as Don and his contemporaries did during the 1980s and 1990s. They were in fact in their early 20s at the beginning of the modern reform era. The challenges are therefore different. Globalisation is a given. We now have to ensure an inclusive society that guarantees opportunity for all.

Auckland

This week our Councils are setting out their view on how to improve the governance of our city. This will be the plan of the Councillors and council bureaucracies. But of course they are not the only stakeholders in how best to govern Auckland. Citizens, businesses and local communities have a view.

Any proposal requires parliamentary approval. Parliament does not exist to be a passive rubber stamp for the views of local councillors, so this will be an issue of vigorous debate.

Aucklanders are running the risk of local authorities going with the options that suit them, without people having a democratic choice on what the city needs. Already there is evidence of cherry picking. The Auckland Regional Council has given qualified support, but wants changes to suit it. Other councils are likely to have the same approach.

Auckland will have just as much local bureaucracy as ever. There will still be seven district plans, eight different rating systems and overlapping jurisdiction.

The complexity of Auckland local government is exactly what caused the stadium fiasco. Auckland City wanted a stadium built on Ports of Auckland land, ultimately owned by the ARC. The ARC preferred the Eden Park upgrade but hasn’t given any financial commitments.

Nationals’ leader John Key proposed a Members Bill earlier this year. The Bill set out a framework to get high quality reform. He proposed a special independent review to design two models for local government. These two options would be put to the Auckland voter for decision by referendum. This is not intended to incremental reform as has occurred several times in the last 16 years. Like MMP we intended major reform. Among the options is a three-city system with greatly enhanced regional government. The other major alternative is a single city with community boards.

Many members of the public have been looking for deeper reform options. These include the single city option with strong community boards, or a simplified system of cities with stronger regional governance.

A more independent review is necessary, that will also give an opportunity for the people of Auckland to choose their preferred system of local government.
15 December 2006


Dr Wayne Mapp

Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz


ENDS

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