Ev­ery city needs fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Phil Twyford

If you’re con­fused by the gov­ern­ment’s Auck­land su­percity plans don’t blame your­self.

We have been sub­jected to mixed mes­sages from the gov­ern­ment this week as it reels from the out­rage to its rushed re­sponse to the Royal Com­mis­sion’s re­port.

Meet­ings have de­manded con­sul­ta­tion and ex­pressed cit­i­zens’ fears of los­ing their voices.

Prime Min­is­ter John Key’s own elec­torate gave key as­pects of his pro­pos­als the thumbs-down and he made a re­mark­able con­ces­sion this week, re­veal­ing how con­fused his gov­ern­ment now feels. “I’m sure by the time this pro­posal for Auck­land is rolled out we will have got it right,” he said.

Mr Key and his col­league Paula Ben­nett ap­pear to be will­ing to re­visit parts of the ini­tial pro­posal but Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Rod­ney Hide – clearly play­ing bad cop to Mr Key’s good cop – is hold­ing firm.

It’s not good enough, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the im­por­tance of the is­sue.

Labour agrees with the con­cerns be­ing ex­pressed about the plans to re­place coun­cils with lo­cal talk shops, and to elect coun­cil­lors at large at the ex­pense of lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

There’s a dan­ger that elect­ing coun­cil­lors that way will see a re­turn to the days when the Auck­land City Coun­cil was dom­i­nated by the Vic­to­ria Ave set.

Noth­ing spells that out more clearly than the fact that it would cost $250,000 for a can­di­date to send just one let­ter to ev­ery ci­ti­zen. How many can af­ford that?

Fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion for ev­ery com­mu­nity is a must if the su­percity is to ad­vance Auck­land in the in­ter­ests of all its cit­i­zens.

We al­ready have poor voter turnout in some lower in­come ar­eas. Far from en­cour­ag­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion, at-large coun­cil­lor vot­ing – de­signed to en­sure John Banks and his Na­tional Party mates gain per­ma­nent con­trol of Auck­land’s af­fairs – will have the op­po­site ef­fect.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act 2002 pro­vides for a poll of elec­tors to be held be­fore lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­or­gan­i­sa­tion oc­curs.

If the gov­ern­ment wants to demon­strate its com­mit­ment to a demo­cratic Auck­land, it must come clean on whether its plans have changed and seek a man­date through a ref­er­en­dum.

I urge peo­ple to write to their near­est Na­tional MP and tell them their job will be on the line in 2011 if they don’t make John Key and Rod­ney Hide see sense.

This news­pa­per does not en­dorse Labour or its view. No Na­tional MP has asked to pro­vide a view.

Phil Twyford

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