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Time to stand up for Waiheke.

Councillor Denise Roche on having your say on Auckland City.

The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill

The Government is on track to creating the ‘Super-City’ for the Auckland region and the third piece of legislation that will determine how we are governed is out for public submissions.  Submissions need to be into the Select Committee that will be hearing public submissions by Friday 12th December.

Background

The last two pieces of legislation that have already been passed (and the Royal Commission report before that) ensures that Waiheke will have its own Local Board.  The Local Government Commission will report back at the beginning of March with their final decision on which ward we will be part of and how many councillors we will have representing us at the Council level.  (The draft proposal lumped us in with the Central Business District and nearby suburbs and allocated one councilor to represent all 84,000 of us.)

The process towards the Super-City has been undemocratic and rushed and this third bill is no exception to that rule.

Impact on Waiheke

Council Controlled Organisations

This third bill gives further details about how the entire region will be run and recommends the creation of at least seven Council Controlled Organisations (CCO’s) to run key assets and services across the region –  for Water and Waste Water Services, Transport, the Waterfront; Economic Development, Tourism and Events; Property; Investments and Major Regional Facilities.  CCO’s are run along a corporate model and removes elected representatives (Councillors and Local Board members) from most of the decision-making as this rests with directors who are appointed to their positions rather than voted in.

The Bill proposes that the directors for the CCO’s will be appointed initially by the Minister for Local Government, Rodney Hide.  In usual circumstances a CCO’s directors are decided by the Council.  And with the exception of the Transport CCO, the bill prohibits any councilors from being on the boards of CCO’s.

The way the Bill is drafted there is also the potential for the sale of public assets and the privatization of services like water across the region within a few years.

Local Decision-Making

We have regularly been told by government spokespeople that ‘local decisions would be made locally’ and have been lead to believe that the third bill would clarify the roles and functions and powers of the Local Boards.  The third bill does not specify in any detail what these decision making powers will be except to propose that Local Boards can recommend to Council on the introduction of targeted rates, fees and bylaws.    The rest of the functions of the Local Boards are being left up to the Auckland Transition Agency (a group of unelected staff) to develop the details.

On Waiheke we know that without clarity around these roles, powers and functions – and if left to the whims of the Auckland Council – our new Local Board may be given very little decision-making ability.  And it will be difficult to attract good candidates to stand for these positions if the roles are mere window-dressing.   These details need to be in the Bill.

In addition, if it is CCO’s that make all the decisions on our services and assets, then Local Boards become even more powerless as the Bill provides no form of interaction or influence for Local Boards and CCO’s.

There are many possible scenario’s where we may be disadvantaged by the proposals in the bill.  Here are a few:

Water Services CCO:  if the CCO decides to reticulate Waiheke, what power or right does the Local Board have to prevent them?  Waiheke has a strong history of resisting reticulation as it will led to infill housing and a destruction of the character of the island.

Transport: CCO: How does the Local Board influence the CCO if it decides to increase the current wharf charges for the ferry services which has a flow on effect on the ferry fares?

Transport CCO:  Roads and environmental issues from storm-water runoff.  Under the current system we already have difficulties convincing Council to implement low-impact storm water management.  This could be a lot more difficult where the CCO determines the priorities for local roads.

Property CCO:  How do we influence this CCO around the uses for the Matiatia land currently owned by Council?

Please make a submission on the bill

You can post them (two copies of your submission, no stamp required) to:

The Select Committee Clerk
Auckland Governance Legislation Committee
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

Or fill in an on-line submission form at:
http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/MakeSub/

Or email your submission to: Select.Committee@parliament.govt.nz

And if you need any assistance please feel free to contact Denise Roche, 372 6578 or 027 209 7554 or Email: cr.roche@aucklandcity.govt.nz

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