Published 5 November 2007Auckland City Council went through the motions of contested appointments at the first meeting of the new council on1 November, but in reality there will be no contest through the next 3 years.
It is like a rugby game where you’re told the score at the start of the match and, lo, it’s the same at the end. In this match, apart from the occasional hiccup, the score is 14-6. John Banks, back in the mayoral robes after losing to Dick Hubbard in 2004, looked decidedly bored as he churned through certain voting outcomes.
When Mr Banks stormed into the mayoralty 6 years ago he told the defeated City Vision & Labour camps: “We won, you lost.” This time round, Labour councillor & minority leader Richard Northey conceded: “We accept you won, we lost, but we want to work hard and contribute to the development of the city.”
Cllr Northey and City Vision councillors Glenda Fryer & Cathy Casey then tried to achieve some changes to the committee structure proposed by deputy mayor David Hay, who’d spent the last 3 years of left-wing city council control up the hill at the Auckland Regional Council.
The new councillors adding to the Citizens & Ratepayers majority sat & watched in silence then voted dutifully for the Hay recipe, under which they are the chief beneficiaries. 4 of the 5 chairmen are new councillors, with Cllr Doug Armstrong returning to his finance stewardship.
Most of the proposed changes were for practical rather than points-scoring reasons – Cllr Northey felt the new city development committee should be split in 2 to ease the workload, one arm for planning & regulatory, the other for city development.
One proposal that was never going to fly was Cllr Northey’s suggestion that he & Cllr Fryer be the deputy chairmen of these 2 committees, to use their experience. Auckland City Council political appointments fall according to the ideological divide unless some horse-trading is needed, and this time round that isn’t needed.
Cllr Fryer, who chaired the previous planning & regulatory committee, wanted the present role of the planning fixtures committee retained – again because of workload – and also wanted 3 elected commissioners with one independent on resource consent & bylaw panels.
The council stuck with the Hay proposal, which is for panels to have only one elected member and for independents to be delegated to make decisions on consent & bylaw applications that don’t require a hearing, closing the door on applications previously considered by the planning fixtures committee & that committee’s predecessors. The planning fixtures overview will move to the new city development committee, minus the work done by independents.
Cllr Hay’s biggest concern has been with the inordinately large amount of time to be devoted to hearing submissions on the Gulf Islands plan review and the reviews of the consolidated bylaws and the isthmus & central area district plan. Cllr Hay wants a panel of 3 elected members & an independent for the Gulf Islands review and similar for the others, but for workshops to be held for the approach to be finalised.
The Gulf Islands panel will be chosen soon, the bylaws panel by February, the central area panel in the second quarter of 2008.
Cllr Casey gave reasons of experience & performance when she suggested a number of changes to the committee appointments, including nominating CitRat councillor Toni Millar to chair the arts committee in place of new councillor Greg Moyle, and another sitting CitRat councillor, Noelene Raffills to chair the community services committee in place of another new councillor, Paul Goldsmith.
While the nominations of left-wing councillors were predictably defeated, the Millar & Raffills preferences were also rejected. New Waiheke Island councillor won left-wing support to be on bodies dealing with island matters, but that proposition also met the silent stare.
Cllr Mark Donnelly – on the CitRats ticket when he won election 6 years ago, defeated in 2004 and elected on a local action ticket this time – proposed a review of regulatory processes, which will be reported back to the city development committee by the council chief executive rather than to Cllr Donnelly’s preference of a working party.
Committee chair & deputy appointments:
Arts, culture, recreation, chairman Cllr Greg Moyle, deputy Cllr Toni MillarCity development, chairman Cllr Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, deputy Cllr Graeme MulhollandCommunity services, chairman Cllr Paul Goldsmith, deputy Cllr Noelene RaffillsFinance & strategy, chairman Cllr Doug Armstrong, deputy Cllr Aaron BhatnagarTransport, chairman Cllr Ken Baguley, deputy Cllr Linda Leighton.
Among the minor committees, Cllr Hay will chair the regional governance committee (focus on the inquiry into regional governance), with Cllr Bhatnagar as his deputy, Cllrs Armstrong & Northey as members.
One matter not finalised is the remuneration structure, which will go to a workshop of Cllrs Hay, Armstrong & Northey. Cllr Hay proposed increases for council chair & deputy appointments for their increased responsibility, and to reduce community board remuneration by more than 20% to help pay for it.
Attribution: Council meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for this website.