Task­force ‘waste of money’

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

MAYOR John Banks has pulled out of a na­tional fo­rum on youth em­ploy­ment, call­ing the project “navel-gaz­ing”.

Auck­land City Coun­cil’s mem­ber­ship of the May­ors Task­force for Jobs, which in­cludes 71 of the coun­try’s 73 may­ors, runs out in July.

But Mr Banks says Auck­land City Coun­cil won’t put up the $5000 fee to stay in­volved.

“I’m not go­ing to waste ratepay­ers’ money navel­gaz­ing with other may­ors when the re­spon­si­bil­ity falls with cen­tral gov­ern­ment,” he says.

“I just sim­ply don’t have time for non-core coun­cil busi­ness in an eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment where you can’t get staff for love or money.”

The task­force was es­tab­lished in 2002 with the aim of see­ing all un­der 25year-olds in em­ploy­ment or train­ing.

Mem­ber­ship costs 5 cents per head of pop­u­la­tion, capped at $5000.

Task­force chair­man Dale Wil­liams told the coun­cil on Thurs­day the cost rep­re­sented about $3 for ev­ery un­em­ployed youth in Auck­land.

“I’ve never looked at the May­ors Task­force as a cost. It’s an in­vest­ment,” he said.

But Mr Banks says the cost of re­lated projects runs into hun­dreds of thou­sands.

“It’s a com­mit­ment to quite a lot of cash,” he says.

“You can’t join up for $5000 and not go along with the projects.”

City Vi­sion coun­cil­lors ar­gued in favour of mem­ber­ship at the meet­ing, say­ing there was a clear ben­e­fit for the city.

Leila Boyle said the task­force was more than just talk.

“We are get­ting re­ally good bang for our buck from the fee, and I think $5000 is not too much to ask for all we get in re­turn,” she said.

“Young peo­ple are se­ri­ously over-rep­re­sented in our un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures.

“This is do­ing some­thing, this is be­ing part of a col­lec­tive, stand­ing to­gether with the other may­ors of the coun­try.”

Cit­i­zens & Ratepay­ers coun­cil­lor Doug Arm­strong ar­gued there was no need for the task­force.

“Frankly we don’t have a prob­lem with un­em­ploy­ment,” he said. “It’s the role of gov­ern­ment to get in­volved in trade train­ing.”

A mo­tion from coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey to re­tain mem­ber­ship was de­feated by nine votes to seven.

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