Discussion: Regarding Auckland

318 Responses

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  • Sacha,

    Rudman's story also outlines some of the tussling over the years featuring current Mayors in leading roles. The ex-Mayor of bustling metropolis Queenstown even gets a mention:

    It's forgotten now, but if we'd stuck with the model the Local Government Commission proposed in 1989 we mightn't be going through the current upheavals.

    The commissioners resisted the solitary Auckland council model now being proposed in favour of four big cities and three satellite districts, arguing Auckland could get the unity required on big issues with a strong regional council.

    National's Local Government Minister Warren Cooper feared a strong Auckland, and emasculated the proposed strong regional council.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    In current Mayoral news, Bernard Orsman reports:

    Mr Banks yesterday said he was quietly confident a sound and sensible proposal could be found to convince the Government to strengthen grassroots democracy before legislation was introduced to Parliament.

    "What we can't do is to try and reinvent the wheel that was in place with the royal commission proposal [for six local councils] in any shape or form.

    "It's my view that the Government is not in a position to be pushed back."

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    There is a potentially apocryphal story that when Minister Cooper was chopping up the ARC in 1991 he was challenged that the continuous restructuring of Auckland was hindering it from getting its act together... he is reputed to have replied... "Are you stupid? That's the point!"

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    At least the current crop seem more.. ambitous.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    Is that a good thing?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I mean the motivation is less likely to be fear.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Jury's out on loathing, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd say greed and powerlust may be closer..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Sorry I couldn't find an internet link to this notice (below) so just cut and pasted. Wellington people might be interested in this public talk by David Shand who was a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland - on Friday 17th, 12.30 (lecture theatre is behind the law school).

    School of Government and the Institute of Policy Studies
    Invite you to a Seminar
    The Future Governance of Auckland: The Recommendations
    of the Royal Commission and their Implications for Sub-
    National Government in New Zealand
    Presented By
    David Shand
    Member of Royal Commission on Auckland Governance

    David Shand returned to New Zealand in 2006 after an international career in public sector reform
    which spanned some 30 years since he left New Zealand. In Australia he held senior financial and
    management positions in the federal government and the Victorian and Queensland state
    governments. He worked for 4 years for the OECD in Paris and then in Washington DC for nine
    years with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on public sector reform issues in
    developing countries.
    Apart from his membership of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance he is currently
    chair of the Tertiary Education Commission and a director of Meridian Energy Ltd. In 2007 he
    chaired the Independent Inquiry into Local Government Rates established by the Minister of Local
    Government.

    In this presentation, David will cover the Royal Commission's conclusions and recommendations,
    and possible implications for the rest of New Zealand. The Commission's report and other relevant
    documents can be accessed at www.royalcommission.govt.nz

    Friday 17th April
    12.30 - 2pm
    Lecture Theatre 1 Old Government Buildings
    Stout Street entrance
    RSVP to Yvette.blades@vuw.ac.nz

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2009 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I commend this thoughtful articulation of Maori history and interest in Auckland's governance by local academic research director Merata Kawharu.

    Crucially, from Ngati Whatua's perspective, by Hobson accepting their offer, he was also accepting the obligations inherent in the offer. Translated, this meant that Ngati Whatua believed they were not giving up their lands, livelihood and mana, but rather they were strengthening their political and cultural footing through a developing economy and enhancing their ability to serve others.
    ...

    The abolishment of the three seats on the new Super City governance entity does not reflect the principles of sharing, inclusion or mana as envisaged by Ngati Whatua.

    The decision to eliminate the seats repeats mistakes made in the history of this city. There is enough in our historical kete to guide us in facing current political challenges. Let us not ignore them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Bell,

    John Banks is criticised on NatRad this morning for not objecting to the “supercity” plan that will probably give him an even more highly-paid job than the one he has now. We don’t want this city to be run by the rich and powerful, say objectors.

    What? The powerful run things; it’s almost a tautology. Do you propose giving the administration of our largest city into the hands of the “powerless”? Wouldn’t that make them powerful by definition?

    As for “rich”; well if you run any organisation, you’re usually in charge of its finances and it would be a pious hope to suppose that you’d vote yourself a pittance in salary and perks.

    If your mayor *was* that public-spirited, someone with the money to buy a good public relations advisor would be likely to overturn the “poor mayor” in short order. It’s the perception not the actuality that rules the advertising-conditioned public mind these days, so the winner is likely to be the one with the big PR budget. And don’t kid yourself that regulations restricting official “campaign spending” will achieve anything. The ambitious will find the loopholes and who will be able to afford the top lawyers to defend the stance that their spending was legal? The rich, of course.

    Suppose we could find a way of paying all our mayors, councillors and MPs a meagre stipend regulated by law. A good while ago, a man called Socrates pointed out why that wouldn’t work; it’s a recipe for bribery and corruption. If the rulers don’t have money, they will be offered it in return for subtly steering things in the direction of those who do have the cash.

    With that in mind, the logical people to put in charge are the ones who already have more money than they know what to do with.

    Sorry, by any practical and logical criterion the “rich and powerful” will rise to the top. We’re stuck with them.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The new mayor of Auckland will probably be the person the Herald anoints.

    The way elections work, particularly when the voting population is large and geographically spread is that those with the highest name recognition tend to get elected. That means those that are already powerful with media contacts so get into the media a lot (and doesn't count against their electoral spending) and have money to leaflet widely have a major advantage. Hard for poorer people well known in only a small area to get that large coverage.

    The talk in Wellington last week by David Shand mentioned above was really interesting and I suggest that interested Aucklanders ask him to speak to their meetings. He talked about the principles and research behind the Royal Commission's report. They hoped to increase citizenship participation, recognise the effect of local govt policies on people through the region wide social policy approach, recognise tangata whenua (all regions would have Maori names and Maori representation by right was central) as well as have good regional networks of public transport and asset management etc.

    But from a Wellingtonian's point of view - where we have STV city council ward voting and a strong lobby to keep that in spite of considerable opposition by the powerful - they hadn't actually addressed the 'how' of the election process. STV would be one way to prevent the Herald's chosen and possibly divisive candidate get elected, as it could mean that everyone's second or third choice may end up winning instead.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2009 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I hope I'm wrong, but I have developed a suspicion that the whole shebang is gearing up to be a chance for ACT (political party) to reinvent itself and, as a side-effect, make most Aucklanders' lives a little worse.

    Seeing as the nationwide ACT vote fell apart at the last election & they only got representation by virtue of winning a seat rather than appealing to 5+% of the electorate (I may not be 100% accurate in all this, I'm not deeply into the politics of it) they need to do something to ensure that they don't go the way of Social Credit & just wither on the vine.
    So 'Sir Roger' bends Rodney's ear and they conspire to re-jig the Auckland local government so that it can be dominated by ACT-approved players and can be set up as an 'ACT Government' for the nation's largest city . This would allow them to act-out their policies on the 2nd-largest stage in the country seeing as they have almost died a death on the largest.

    Of course, it could just be a bit of paranoid conspiracy-theorising on my part, but it is intermittently giving my sphincter the spasms. What do you reckon?

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    As for “rich”; well if you run any organisation, you’re usually in charge of its finances and it would be a pious hope to suppose that you’d vote yourself a pittance in salary and perks.

    It is not the Mayoral or councillor salary that is at issue here... that is set in Wellington with little or no local (as required in legislation). It is not that long ago that the ruling C&R councillor group spoke about dramatically reducing councillor salaries, as that would exclude what they called 'lifestyle councillors', what you and I might call people who actually needed an income to support their families in return for doing a full time job, which is what being a councillor in a major metro council entails.

    What is the concern is that only the already rich will be able to contest the positions... to put one letter in every letter box in the ‘new’ city would cost $250k… so any talk of a $70k or $100k campaign cap is just unrealistic.

    There would be no point in capturing just the mayoralty, as to actually do anything a Mayor would need a full party ticket behind him or her (probably him) to give them the votes. With no tax payer funded media buy to help out in local body elections, a successful mayoral candidate and supporting ticket would need a budget close to that needed by Labour or National at a general election for the country!

    This means the effective commercialisation of local government in Auckland as only large companies will have the sort of money required.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Stewart, while the current circling of vultures is unattractive and there's definitely a power grab in the offing, they didn't set up the Commission process. Concern by Auckland's business interests and the politicians of the right goes back a decade and more, so it's hardly surprising to see that translated into action now.

    The way they are going about this change is consistent with their beliefs about leadership and about what is important. Cheerleader Fran O'Sullivan's latest is illustrative:

    ... the terrifying prospect that a business person or a celebrity might end up as one of the eight "at large councillors" buying their way on to the council through their own fame and recognition, or, ability to fund an election campaign;
    ...

    We get so mired in protecting the ownership of our assets that we miss the chance to realise some cash and reinvest in building some next-generation infrastructure.

    What is desperately needed is not more of the same but people with vision and courage who can lead Auckland - not hold it back.

    She does have some other stuff to say about governance and makes some good points amidst the dross. I agree that "This is Auckland's chance to get it right".

    However as others have already noted, it's not the prospect of "one" champion of Eastie business interests that concerns opponents but of an entire Council stacked with rich white men because of deliberate decisions about the process by pollies who represent their interests - at the cost of excluding the region's rich diversity of perspectives and strengths.

    We can do better, and it is alarming to see that fearful poverty of vision dressed up as decisiveness and ambition. Business is a great partner at the table, but if it ever had all the answers, then the current failure of global financial markets should surely cause its apologists to think more broadly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    In a recent column, local government law specialist Associate Professor Kenneth Palmer likes the Government's proposed changes:

    Finally we have a workable prescription for Auckland to speak with one voice and act boldly in the regional and national interest.
    ...
    The voice of the communities will still be heard through the local board structures and ward members, striking an appropriate balance between unified representation and local democracy.
    ...
    Calls have been made for a citizens' referendum or for time for further submissions. As was evident in 1988, this cannot happen if principled reform is to be achieved.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I recommend reading the views of long-serving councillor and ex-Mayor of the Glen Eden borough council, Janet Clews, informed by the lessons of that previous round of amalgamations in the late 1980s. (Note that a slightly edited version of this appeared last week in the Herald):

    It is critical that the second-tier councils have sufficient scale to be able to achieve things for their communities with the help of the unitary authority. The decision to have 20-30 community boards flies in the face of the royal commission report, and is a case of back to the future.

    It is a perfect demonstration of divide and rule. At least the 27 cities and boroughs which existed at the time of the 1989 amalgamation had real autonomy. What is proposed now is nothing but a sop. It also confuses representation with empowerment.
    ...

    Community engagement does not just happen. It must be encouraged, worked at and respected. This applies to all levels of government. There has actually been no real community engagement by the Government on this suggested return to the past.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Of course, it could just be a bit of paranoid conspiracy-theorising on my part, but it is intermittently giving my sphincter the spasms. What do you reckon?

    It is anywhere in your conceptual framework that people you disagree with can hold their views in good faith and without some nefarious secret agenda?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    What Craig said, to a large extent. The people making these decisions are sincere in their beliefs, including how it is right to conduct the process. I would however caution that those beliefs are not necessarily what we hear from them through public channels.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    On the subject of the 'Rich & Powerful" running Auckland.
    Bill Ralston, everybody's favorite political commentator, had this to say about who can afford to win the Mt Albert by-election.

    National has the advantage of being in government and can therefore summon up money from business contributors who want to curry favour.

    Ah, the best politicians money can buy eh?

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Rose-tinted analysis from Ralston, who may be remembering which side his toast is buttered on. The Nats have nothing to lose, he claims:

    Some who voted Labour might now feel that National has not turned out to be as bad as they expected and either withhold their vote or actively support the Government candidate.

    Others may decide Labour has not performed well since the election and, instead, vote for the feistier Norman.

    The only thing working in Labour's favour is that by June the recession may have bitten harder, unemployment may have risen and Labour's support might turn out because of fear.

    May have? And he thinks the true face of Nact shown in the regional restructuring process won't affect whether voters "feel that National has not turned out to be as bad as they expected"? He does concede that "National's pull back from the Waterview tunnel project will not help it." I guess we'll find out in June.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    He does concede that "National's pull back from the Waterview tunnel project will not help it."

    Doesn't mean I like his writing. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5924 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Rose-tinted analysis from Ralston, who may be remembering which side his toast is buttered on.

    Yeah, Sasha... and what does APN's illimitable appetite for rubbish have to do with anything? Still, I do hope someone who actually matters in Labour is listening to the man -- if all you've got is hoping that the economy goes down the toilet, you're worthless.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    When will we find out more about the Waterview Connection? Supposedly an alternative went to Steven Joyce earlier in the week.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    After the byelection. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

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