City plan unpopular
THE GOVERNMENT is at odds with Auckland on its supercity.
A Reid Research survey posed four questions around consultation, the powers a new mayor should have, Maori seats and who should foot the bill.
The results show the government’s position is at odds with voters on three issues.
Respondents were asked if the amount of consultation had been too much, about right or too little?
An overwhelming 63 percent said too little, 31 percent about right and 5 percent too much.
Local Government Min- ister Rodney Hide has met the region’s mayors recently, and Prime Minister John Key says the government is still listening but the majority of National’s greater Auckland MPs have been silent.
Opponents say the changes will be rammed through and that consultation is a sham.
Respondents were also asked if they supported a mayor having greater executive powers, with only 39 percent agreeing, despite that being essential to the supercity as proposed, while 61 percent believed the mayor’s powers should not expand.
The government has ruled out Maori representa- tion but the survey showed a fairly even split, with 46 percent for reserved seats and 54 percent against.
Those on Maori rolls were more likely to support the seats than general roll voters, while women and 18 to 29-year-old voters were more likely to support the seats than men.
The fourth question asked if Auckland ratepayers or the government should pay for the reforms?
Only 29 percent of respondents thought ratepayers should pay and a massive 71 percent said the government should.
No figures have been made available on the exact costs but estimates are that in year one every ratepayer in the greater Auckland area could face a bill for $550.
The government is absolutely fixed that ratepayers foot the bill.
And the poll results mirror a Phoenix poll in Waitakere that found only 34 percent support for the government’s plans and 47 percent opposition.
Even in Mr Key’s Helensville electorate, which takes in large chunks of the Rodney District Council area, opposition was higher still at 48 percent.
Only 16 percent of those poll respondents supported the plan to create 20 to 30 local boards, as opposed to 66 percent support for the Royal Commission’s model of a super council with six councils under it.
The government has come under increasing pressure over its stance, and in particular the lack of consultation.
There is some disquiet among MPs about the stance, and in particular Mr Hide’s inflexibility around the issues, especially given National’s election promise to “consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission are known”.
The Green Party has called on the government to undertake a formal consultation process – which is required by law – because parts of its proposal were not recommended by the commission.
Labour has called for a referendum and says the Local Government Act provides for a poll before any reorganisation.
The supercity proposal is the biggest merger in New Zealand history, involving $23 billion in assets and more than 6000 staff.
The changes have seen MPs flooded with letters and emails, protest marches and organised opposition campaigns throughout Auckland.
Opponents claim they will not be properly represented under the proposed changes and that having one process for reform in New Zealand and another in Auckland is undemocratic.