We won’t be Hide-bound again

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

Some peo­ple might say my mind bog­gles eas­ily. Well, this is a su­per bog­gle. Or, more cor­rectly, a su­per-city bog­gle.

The topic: The fi­nal su­percity uni­tary plan panel hear­ings when Auck­lan­ders get a chance to talk over the fu­ture in a way and at a depth they missed out on be­fore the su­per-city stage.

One es­ti­mate is that hear­ings will cost $12 mil­lion and will run for 20 months to fi­nalise how Auck­land will grow. I couldn’t be­lieve that time­line – that hear­ings by the eight-per­son panel, which sat for the first time last week, are likely to go on un­til around the end of April 2016.

The panel will then present its find­ings to Auck­land Coun­cil by July 22, 2016, for the coun­cil to con­sider and no­tify its de­ci­sions within 20 work­ing days – Au­gust 19, 2016.

‘‘Bog­gle’’ is not a word that comes eas­ily to politi­cians.

In­stead, when En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Amy Adams and Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter Dr Nick Smith an­nounced the eight board mem­bers, they de­scribed it as ‘‘the largest plan­ning ex­er­cise in the his­tory of New Zealand’’ with ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for Auck­land and New Zealand’s en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic per­for­mance’’.

I just wish the pre­vi­ous coun­cil had taken as much time and ef­fort to see the flaws in the orig­i­nal plan.

It could have ar­gued them in­stead of be­ing Hide-bound by an ACT dreamer in the Bee­hive who then walked away, leav­ing us to it.

The panel chair­man Judge David Kirk­patrick has some con­cerns about time – not too much but per­haps too lit­tle.

‘‘We have to con­sider over 9000 sub­mis­sions, which raise around 100,000 points con­cern­ing pos­si­ble changes to the plan.

‘‘We also have a limited time to do that and make our rec­om­men­da­tions to the Auck­land Coun­cil.

‘‘It’s a chal­leng­ing prospect but with care­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion, sen­si­ble pro­ce­dures and a mea­sure of good­will from all par­tic­i­pants, we be­lieve we can pro­vide Auck­land, on time, with our rec­om­men­da­tions for a plan that will pro­mote the sus­tain­able man­age­ment of Auck­land’s nat­u­ral and phys­i­cal re­sources.’’

The panel’s web­site asks the ques­tion and an­swers it almost in same breath: ‘‘Why does it take so long?’’

‘‘The an­swer: the hear­ing process has to al­low enough time for the panel to hear the sub­mit­ters and the ev­i­dence and to con­sider all the mat­ters raised be­fore mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on the plan.

‘‘The Uni­tary Plan brings to­gether the re­gional pol­icy state­ment and pre­vi­ous re­gional plans and dis­trict plans, so the hear­ings cover a wide range of top­ics that im­pact on all Auck­lan­ders.’’

What hap­pens if the panel can’t fin­ish the hear­ings or de­liver its re­port within the time the law al­lows? They can get more time. Sounds sen­si­ble. In the mail­bag:

‘‘Auck­land city’s ditch­ing of the mod­ern and sim­ple ‘a’ sym­bol for the fussy, old­fash­ioned po­hutukawa must be one of the strangest de­ci­sions ever.

‘‘About as strange as Tele­com’s rein­ven­tion as Spark, a ba­nal, unimag­i­na­tive name if there ever was one.

‘‘In­ter­est­ing that Ger­many still gets by with Deutsche Telekom.

‘‘How­ever, there is another cu­ri­ous as­pect to Tele­com’s new iden­tity that be­came ob­vi­ous to me ear­lier this week dur­ing a visit to St Lukes Mall, when I stood in the large open space just inside the St Lukes Rd en­trance.

‘‘The three mo­bile ser­vice providers all have shops and they are not very far apart.

‘‘Two De­grees and Voda­fone jump at you in their bright blue and red liv­er­ies re­spec­tively but where is Tele­com/Spark?

‘‘Look again and con­cen­trate on the de­tail and you will find it, blend­ing into the sur­round­ings with a very con­ser­va­tive neu­tral colour scheme and with lit­tle ev­i­dence that it might be sell­ing tele­phones.

‘‘An ex­cel­lent demon­stra­tion of cam­ou­flage.’’ – Graeme Robb, Mt Al­bert

Chal­leng­ing: Uni­tary plan panel chair­man Judge David Kirk­patrick has some con­cerns about time­frames: ‘‘We have to con­sider over 9000 sub­mis­sions, which raise around 100,000 points con­cern­ing pos­si­ble changes to the plan.’’

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