The next step on Auck­land’s fu­ture – with your help

Central Leader - - News - By John Carter

The gov­ern­ment has an­nounced its po­si­tion on the Royal Com­mis­sion’s re­port into Auck­land’s gov­er­nance and is now tak­ing the next step. You play a big part in that. The gov­ern­ment has adopted the com­mis­sion’s topline rec­om­men­da­tion for the Auck­land Coun­cil – one coun­cil, one mayor and one rates bill.

The com­mis­sion said that was the best way to tackle the re­gion’s prob­lems – such as suf­fo­cat­ing red tape, in­creas­ing rates, trans­port bot­tle­necks, and lost op­por­tu­ni­ties – and it should re­sult in some sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings. We agree.

But we don’t agree with the sec­ond-tier rec­om­men­da­tions on the make-up of the Auck­land Coun­cil and the lo­cal coun­cils sup­port­ing it.

We don’t think they pro­vide Auck­lan­ders with ef­fec­tive com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

That’s why we’ve pro­posed a struc­ture for the Auck­land Coun­cil with 12 coun­cil­lors elected from wards and eight at large, sup­ported by 20 to 30 lo­cal boards.

We want to know what you think about that.

Our next step is to start a leg­isla­tive process that con­sid­ers the pro­posed changes, lis­tens to the pub­lic, and de­fines the Auck­land Coun­cil’s struc­ture and the roles of the lo­cal boards.

We’ll be send­ing three bills to Par­lia­ment and will pass the first un­der ur­gency next week.

It will es­tab­lish the Auck­land Coun­cil as a le­gal en­tity, set up a tran­si­tion agency to over­see the move to the new struc­ture, and de­fine how the re­gion’s ex­ist­ing coun­cils should work in the mean­time.

We’re us­ing ur­gency so we can get the ball rolling and get the new struc­ture in place for the 2010 lo­cal-body elec­tions.

That doesn’t mean ev­ery­thing has been de­cided. On the con­trary, there’s a lot we need to sort out.

The sec­ond bill will go through a se­lect com­mit­tee process end­ing in Septem­ber that will lay out the struc­ture of the Auck­land Coun­cil and the boards, and make the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion re­spon­si­ble for de­cid­ing bound­aries.

The third bill will deal with more of the de­tails and as the sec­ond and third bills go through se­lect com­mit­tee, Auck­lan­ders will get a chance to have a say about the re­gion’s struc­ture.

We can’t sit on our hands for an­other three years without mak­ing progress.

Auck­land’s fu­ture – and New Zealand’s pros­per­ity – is too im­por­tant for that.

Mr Carter is the As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment.

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