Published 18 September 2009
Parliament passed the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill yesterday and now has one more bill to complete arrangements for the unitary council to replace the present 7 territorial & one regional council.
North Shore mayor Andrew Williams the event as “a super-city Frankenstein” being let loose on the people of Auckland, and Manukau mayor Len Brown said Parliament should have included provision to prevent the sale of council assets in the new legislation.
Mr Williams said: "The Government had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get Auckland local governance right by sorting out what was not working at regional level and beefing up what was working well at local level, but they gave in to vested interests, and the Government blew that chance.
"The great issue at stake is whether we run our region under an inclusive, consensus decision-making model where the power is shared with the people, or whether we run our region under a centralised, elitist model where the power is concentrated at the top and decisions are handed down to the masses.
"The government has chosen to ignore the people and impose their own twisted version of the power elite model on us.
"The reality is that all roads lead to Rome under the government’s ‘Frankenstein’ super-city, with all the power & the resources either in the hands of elite super-councillors & an omnipotent super-mayor, or in the hands of unelected & unaccountable council-owned monopoly companies.
"Rodney Hide’s dream of turning our communities into corporations is complete.
"Only the most optimistic of the Government’s fan base believe that the token-gesture local boards will serve the needs of local democracy and empower local people to make local decisions about their local communities.
“The truth is that they have no power in their own right, they are not even units of local government but unincorporated societies, and the new council has an absolute veto over every decision the local boards make. Perhaps in Rodney Hide’s parallel universe this passes for local democracy, but not in the real world.
"It is more than ironic that the people who constructed this ‘Frankenstein’ super-city have no genuine, day-to-day experience of local government, how it works on the ground and how it moves in tandem with its communities to deliver progressive outcomes for the people.
"The partisan nature of the voting in Parliament on the Auckland Council Bill, with ACT & National on one side and Labour, the Greens & the Maori Party on the other, has created a political rift that destabilises the super-city from day one and, combined with the local boards being set up to compete with each other for resources, signals a vast escalation of parochialism & patch protection, something the super-city was supposed to eliminate.”
Mr Brown said: “The legislation setting up the new city structure, with power vested in one mayor & one council, fails to include protection for strategic assets such as the airport, the port & water. This means that if Aucklanders want to protect their assets to provide a platform for growth, they will need to vote for someone with a track record of protecting public assets.
“Generations of Aucklanders have invested in our public ports, airport & water company. They are owned by the community. They provide an asset base upon which we can build the infrastructure needed to turn Auckland into an economic & cultural hub for the South Pacific. They must not be sold.”
Mr Brown welcomed retention of the original northern Rodney boundary, but said the Government had made a mistake by splitting the Franklin district in half.
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Attribution: Company statement, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.