Who stole our voice? a: Su­percity b: Stu­por city c: Stupid city d: All of the above

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By David Ke­meys Ed­i­tor-in-chief

ENOUGH is enough.

The gov­ern­ment’s in­sis­tence on forc­ing change in Auck­land’s gov­er­nance is bul­ly­ing.

There is no ev­i­dence Auck­lan­ders want it, and plenty that they don’t.

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Rod­ney Hide should re­mem­ber he is in Par­lia­ment be­cause his elec­torate can dou­ble-dip and en­sure a part­ner for Na­tional.

This gov­ern­ment’s stance strips democ­racy from res­i­dents.

The Royal Com­mis­sion on Auck­land Gov­er­nance’s po­si­tion, reached af­ter months of work, sub­mis­sions and con­sul­ta­tion, has been dumped. It pro­posed shared gov­er­nance within the re­gion and Welling­ton, and out­lined how to achieve that.

The Auck­land Coun­cil would de­cide plans, own ev­ery­thing and em­ploy staff. Six lo­cal coun­cils would over­see ser­vices in their ar­eas, and make sure com­mu­nity needs were taken to the Auck­land Coun­cil.

The com­mis­sion­ers pro­posed a lo­cal coun­cil­lor in the ex­ist­ing four cities for ev­ery 20,000 peo­ple, for ev­ery 9000 in Rod­ney and ev­ery 12,000 in Hunua.

They also pro­posed var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that, in short, meant coun­cils with real pow­ers, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and an ef­fec­tive voice.

The com­mis­sion de­cided the six coun­cils would re­tain lo­cal knowl­edge and be ef­fi­cient, though the change would mean a new re­la­tion­ship be­tween Auck­land and the gov­ern­ment.

To meet that chal­lenge a min­is­ter for Auck­land was pro­posed, along­side a per­ma­nent Auck­land cab­i­net com­mit­tee and other co­op­er­a­tive mea­sures.

But Prime Min­is­ter John Key and Mr Hide know bet­ter.

De­spite not do­ing any re­search and with lim­ited anal­y­sis, they have dumped the rec­om­men­da­tions, wip­ing out the lo­cal coun­cils and giv­ing all the power to the Auck­land Coun­cil, while cut­ting it from 23 and an elected mayor to 20 and a mayor.

The coun­cils are re­placed by 20 to 30 ut­terly pow­er­less com­mu­nity boards.

That is a re­gion of 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple con­trolled by 20 coun­cil­lors and a mayor. Ex­plain that in demo­cratic terms? We can’t.

Mr Key and Mr Hide might as well have set fire to the money the com­mis­sion cost, though that ap­pears not to mat­ter since nei­ther man can say what cost sav­ings their pro­posal will bring.

Mr Hide claims to have con­sulted the re­gion’s may­ors. He has not. Auck­land’s mayor John Banks does not rep­re­sent the re­gion – yet.

North Shore’s An­drew Wil­liams even goes so far as to ac­cuse him of mis­lead­ing the peo­ple of Auck­land.

May­ors are ask­ing to be told what is go­ing on, which seems far from un­rea­son­able.

Manukau’s Len Brown, rightly, has called the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal a trav­esty for lo­cal democ­racy be­cause it strips away the lo­cal voice.

The com­mis­sion pro­duced an 800-page re­port with 100 rec­om­men­da­tions. If its work was ir­rel­e­vant, as seems ev­i­dent, the process must be open to ques­tion.

The gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal is an in­sult to Auck­land, an in­sult to North Shore, an in­sult to Manukau, Waitakere, Rod­ney, Pa­pakura and Franklin – and worse, it is an in­sult to democ­racy.

There is no doubt Auck­land can ben­e­fit from a new model – just not this one.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is of­ten bor­ing, it can even cre­ate and fuel ap­a­thy, but Auck­lan­ders need to speak up. Let the gov­ern­ment know this de­ci­sion is many things, but above all else, it is just plain wrong.

Auck­land cen­tral: Nikki Kaye, nikki.kaye@na­tional. org.nz.

Photo: FIONA GOODALL

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