Supercity slated by policy expert
The government has its Auckland supercity plan wrong but won’t listen to calls to back down, a leading expert says.
AUT University Institute of Public Policy director David Wilson has launched a stinging broadside against the plans.
He said the government had “taken one of the Royal Commission’s headlines but removed many of the mechanisms that would have achieved better regional governance”.
Mr Wilson said the government should go back to the original report instead of its own proposals.
The first two bills to create the supercity were introduced into Parliament this week – the first, under urgency, to establish the new Auckland Council as a legal entity and set up the agency that will lead the transition process.
The second will go to a select committee and outline the new council’s structure.
But Mr Wilson said the government plan was so flawed it was doubtful it would work, left too much to chance and was “a shadow of the commission’s report”.
“There is a real disquiet that a genuine opportunity has been lost by the govern- ment’s handling of this.”
In 2006 Mr Wilson was part of a team of experts given the task of reviewing Auckland governance. They called for stronger regional leadership, and in 2007 and 2008 he supported submissions to the commission calling for better governance. Earlier this year he peer-reviewed the commission’s section on economic development.
But he did not believe the government would listen or change its approach.
“The commission’s proposal was the result of 18 months of research, over 3500 submissions, and discussions with leading international advisors. It is a solid piece of evidence-based work,” Mr Wilson said.
In contrast, the government had “fundamentally misunderstood” the problem in Auckland.
He said Local Government Minister Rodney Hide wanted to “fight parochialism and crack heads together”, but that wasn’t the issue.
Ditching the commission’s plan for six local councils underneath the super council in favour of 20 to 30 local boards would deliver “pointless” boards that lacked the size, resources and authority to make effective decisions for Auckland, he said.