Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Super City Submisson

Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill


The announcement just before Christmas that submissions were due the 14th of February provided insufficient time to allow for research and to be able to write up the submission.

As a small business owner/operator over the busy summer/Christmas holiday break I have found this difficult to accomplish on time. In essence to make this submission, it has also incurred additional costs for my business. I am not alone as other individuals and tourism businesses have indicated this to me also.

I wish to comment on a few of the clauses and i would urge that these be seriously considered by your committee.

They are as follows:

Clause 17- Power of the local boards

• Despite the commitment of Rodney Hide that the local boards would have local decision making power this had not happened with this bill.

• If the boards were to be truly democratic and able to represent their communities they need more decision making powers. It is not acceptable for a non elected Auckland Transition authority to make decisions on transport, libraries, main streets, swimming pools, community centers and also heritage and urban design. It is worthy of note that despite existing council policies and bylaws there is no protection for heritage and no provisions for urban design.

• This is a shocking omission and needs to be rectified. The transitional authority members can not possibly know all the areas let alone the nooks and crannies and the needs of all the local communities that will comprise of the new Auckland city.

Clause 24- Council Controlled Organisations

• If Auckland is to be truly a city in its own right and not a branch of the central government, local elected representatives should have the power to appoint the people who they think best understand the needs of Auckland. To place these decisions in the hands of cabinet ministers is to secede what should be local economic decisions. This will not suit or serve Auckland well in to the future should this happen.

• The Transition Authority should be just that, to act in the caretaker role of the CCO’s and the elected members of the Auckland City Council should fill the majority of the board positions.

• It is note worthy and wrong that one of the provisions prohibits councilors from being directors of CCO’s. There are councilors with commercial experience and as presumably councilors will know their city and will be able to advise on any proposal that may have potential adverse affects.

• The CCO models can work and definitely will have advantages for the super city. However we do live in a democracy and not a corporate state.

• Aucklanders should have the right to hold the CCO’s accountable who will be making important decisions.

• Transport, re development of the waterfront and economic development. The decisions that these boards will make will impact on various communities in Auckland. These communities need the right to hold CCO’s to account.

• This is best achieved by having elected councilors sitting on their boards who will be publicly accountable. Their decisions will also be more transparent and will actually help get Aucklanders to engage more with their city. This can only lead to civic pride and a better place to live.

• Failure to do this will lead to alienation with a number of unpleasant pleasant side effects to deal with.

• The Transport Agency should be a business unit in the new super city. With the increasing costs of petrol and the effects that this will have on public behavior will create major issues for Auckland from around the years 2014 onwards.

• People will use traditional cars less; we will walk more, some will use cycles and increasingly we will use public transport. The inevitable increase in the real price of petrol will lead to these changes. We will have smaller electric cars in time, which would be used for local trips.

• This futuristic planning is not something that should be left to an independent business unit but should be under the control Aucklanders who will hold the elective representatives accountable for all decisions.

Ward boundaries-

• The new ward boundaries are undemocratic and do not serve the interests of the various communities that make up Auckland. To continue to have these new boundaries intact after the 2013 election is short sighted.

• The newly elected council should have the ability to redraw the city boundaries to reflect the various communities of interest.

• In Auckland I refer to the Hauraki wards which should be extended to include the bulk of residential 1 heritage housing.

• This predominantly lies from Parnell in the east to Pt Chevallier in the west. The northern boundary of this area would be Mt Eden and the south would be Herne Bay. It would also include the existing suburbs of Grafton, Newton, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Westmere and Freemans Bay.

• This existing Auckland city council have made these areas protected areas by zoning them residential 1 areas which offers by and large almost comprehensive protection for housing stock.

• These areas also comprise heavily wooded streets and urban forest if you like, some inner city beaches, well established parks and other community facilities such as swimming pools, libraries, sports grounds, community centers and main street committees.

• These neighborhoods have a long term benefit to Auckland not only as a better place to live but from the economic value of tourism.

• Internationally heritage areas are recognised as important for various purposes including nation building, cultural records, and economic value that they bring to cities and regions through tourism. This is best protected, enhanced or developed by all these areas being included in the same ward.

• The number of elected councilors is too small to provide good governance for Auckland. The unequal population balance of the wards is an effect a Gerry Mander.

Clauses 11 and 24- Ethnic Advisory Boards

• I believe that the existing Pacifica boards should be co opted to the Pacific People’s Advisory Panel. These people remain long serving and have considerable community support and knowledge no to co op these folks would be a disservice to this community.

Part 6- Spatial Planning for Auckland

• This is perhaps the most important plan as to how Auckland will be in 50 years time. The council in its preparation must take in urban design and the specific characteristics that make up the unique areas of Auckland. How transport is provided and the provision of services will decide the quality of the city that we live in.

Clause 35J- Vesting of Assets for Water Care Services.

• There are provisions that water care will not be subject to Auckland City council policies and the setting of prices for water until after 30 June 2015.

• Further provisions also reduce the transparency of decision making at water care until after June 2012. There has also been mixed messages about whether cabinet has allowed for the new water company to be privatised after the year 2015.

• This whole area is a concern because of a lack of transparency hence the confusion. And there is no democratic control of the water services of Auckland. The provision of water and the affordability of water are major issues in all societies.

• The best way of ensuring that the public needs are met is by having elected councilors involved in the board that will say who will choose the directors who will be in charge of this asset and its functions.

Clause 45- Board promoting issues of significance for Mana Whenua and Tamaki Makaurau

• An advisory board fails to represent the important interest of the tangata whenua.

• It is worth noting that Prime Minister Key in his Waitangi speech spoke of the need to move forward and to settle all grievances by 2014. The failure to have two Maori representatives elected to Auckland City Council will create a new grievance. It would be far better to avoid this potential conflict by an amendment to the bill to allow elected Maori officials.