City plan un­pop­u­lar

Central Leader - - Front Page - By David Ke­meys Ed­i­tor-in-chief

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.

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