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Taking the Next Step on Auckland's Future

Statement from Hon John Carter, Associate Minister of Local Government

Taking the Next Step on Auckland's Future - with Your Help

Now that the Government has announced our position on the Royal Commission's Report into Auckland's Governance, we're taking the next step.

You play a big part in that.

The Government has adopted the Royal Commission's top-line recommendation for the Auckland Council - one council, one mayor, and one rates bill.

The Commission said this was the best way to tackle the region's problems - such as suffocating red tape, increasing rates, transport bottlenecks, and lost opportunities - and it should result in some significant cost savings. We agree.

But we don't agree with the Commission's second-tier recommendations on the makeup of the Auckland Council and the local councils supporting it. We don't think these provide Aucklanders with effective community representation.

That's why we've proposed a structure for the Auckland Council with 12 councillors elected from wards and 8 elected at large, supported by 20-to-30 Local Boards.

We want to know what you think about this.

Our next step is to start a legislative process that considers the proposed changes, listens to the public, and defines the structure of the Auckland Council and the roles of the local boards.

We'll be sending three Bills to Parliament.

We will pass the first Bill into law under Urgency this week. This will establish the Auckland Council as a legal entity, set up a transition agency to oversee the move to the new structure, and define how the region's existing councils should work in the meantime.

We're using Urgency so we can get the ball rolling and get the new structure in place for the 2010 local-body elections. This doesn't mean that everything has been decided. On the contrary, there's a lot we need to sort out.

The second Bill will go through a select committee process ending in September. Among other things, it will lay out the structure of the Auckland Council and the Local Boards, and make the Local Government Commission responsible for deciding boundaries. The third Bill will deal with more of the details.

As the second and third Bills go through select committee, Aucklanders will get a chance to have a say about the region's structure.

If you feel strongly, I urge you to contribute to this process. I'm interested to know what you think about the number of at-large councillors and the responsibilities you think the Local Boards should have.

We can't sit on our hands for another three years without making any progress. Auckland's future - and New Zealand's prosperity - is far too important for that.

ENDS

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