Andrew Watkins Interviewed on Radio NZ, Checkpoint

Council Controlled Orgs criticised in supercity submissions (duration: 3′13″)
A select committee has been told new agencies which will run large portions of the Auckland supercity will be undemocratic and beyond the council’s control.
Audio from Checkpoint on 22 Feb 2010

Sorry folks RNZ only know how to create windows media files.

In my submission and in the interview I make the case that we are being sold a pig in a poke – just being told everything will be ok.  I was asking for a clear exit route, a clause that allows us to secede from the city if we don’t feel it delivers on its promises.

Last chance to submit – for now

If you still have not made a submission to the Auckland Governance Bill 3 then you can do so online at www.parliament.nz

You need to fill in the Captcha – thats the box where you enter letters from an image – a device designed to prove you are human and then click the make an online submission box.   The rest is fairly self evident.

You can write your submission offline and then cut and paste into the editor there – however there does seem to be a 4000 character limit.

Ask to be heard in person – you can always decline later, and ask to be heard on the island.

Submission Template from WICPG

Dear everyone
Attached is a draft submission re. the third bill on the Supercity.  It is a
template prepared by the Waiheke planning group (WICPG).  See the notes
below.    It needs to be received in Wellington by the 12th of February
which doesn’t leave many days to send it.

I know we’re all struck by the dreariness of submitting but the WICPG have
made a strong template which clarifies the issues for those of us who aren’t
really following it.  And the current form of the bill includes fundamental
changes to the way taxpayer assets are managed – basically making unelected
representatives responsible for managing them, and making it difficult for
us to know how decisions are made and almost impossible to influence these.
This is therefore a fundamental threat to our understanding of democracy.

So please take a few minutes to send in a submission – either download it as
a PDF file and fill out the details and send by post, or download the word
version, fill it out, save it and send by email with your own name included
in the file name.   Although using the template, it would be good to add a
few personal comments and there is space to do so.

There is some thought that a posted submission is more likely to be taken
into account, but I’m sure any comment helps.

Apologies if you feel you’re being spammed I thought you might be
interested, and if concerned please circulate this as widely as possible.

Kind regards to all
Shirin Brown

Committee Secretariat, Auckland Governance Legislation, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, Telephone 04 817 8090,

email  to  Select.Committee@parliament.govt.nz

Re Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill – Auckland Governance Legislation Bill 3

[ name ] …… ………………………………………………………………………………………..

[ address ] …………………………………………………………………………………………..

Contacts [ telephones / e-mail]……………………………………………………………………………….

Background : We firmly believe that it is fundamental that Local Government should be for the service and wellbeing of  its ratepayers and residents and communities, and not for associated bureaucratic or corporate privatisation interests.

Thus it must be part of a broader debate about the type of country we want to live in: the balance we strike between citizen, community and government in terms of both power and voice, and how we manage the inevitable tensions between diversity, choice and a desire for common standards (excerpt from the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government  UK 2007).

Waiheke’s experience with our Proposed District Plan (HGIPP), and with Wheelie Bins, and with Matiatia,  has clearly confirmed that Waiheke has lost substantive trust in Local Government especially due to  tthe bureaucratic command and control and arrogant behaviour of the Auckland City Council.  Our experience has been that this is significantly contributed to by the ongoing lack of transparency and lack of accountability to Waiheke ratepayers and residents about many matters. We fear that this lack of transparency and accountability situation will be exacerbated by the move to the supercity unless this Select Committee and this legislation addresses these issues as below.

Submission: I / we oppose this Bill as detailed below

In addition to my personal comments, I agree with the below views

Part 1 and  Part 8 – Trust, Transparency and Accountability and CCO’s : We  believe that this No#3 Bill Enactment must include substantive clauses outling legal obligation to ensure full and open transparency, and full democratic accountability to the people of Auckland, by all Council Controlled Organisations (CCO’s ) or other Council Business Units (BU’s), as well as by the Auckland Council.  We also believe that the default position should be that no CCO should have jurisdiction over any Waiheke service unless it can be proven that such involvement is of  Regional significance.

Part 1 Waste : We support the move for the preparation by the existing local authorities of detailed proposals, as per the Auckland Council’s waste management and minimisation plan (ACWMMP), for achieving long-term integrated waste management and minimisation planning and services in Auckland (including proposals for managing waste contracts, leases, and other arrangements in relation to waste), and look forward to a reassessment of Waste Services on Waiheke with a view to better Waste Minimisation.

Part 2 – Local Boards and Local Decisions : We welcome the assurance from our MP Nikki Kaye that we Waihekeans shall have the opportunity to have consultative input into the proposed powers of our Waiheke Local Board as currently being drafted by the Auckland Transition Agency (due March 2010).  We particularly wish to have the power to administer our own resource consents, and to have a legislated 50:50 input into all capital expenditure decisions and planning decisions regarding Waiheke. We also desire our own peri-urban design panel.

Part 6 – Spatial Planning : We strongly endorse the need for spatial planning, especially to overcome the current great waste of planning resources and poor outcomes due to uncoordinated planning and consequent legal process inefficiency. Additionally we believe that such spatial planning must be statutory, and that its purpose must be subservient to spatial strategy (as in England, Scotland and Wales) which in turn must be subservient to shared ambitions and visions for Auckland, and be focused upon People, Places and Futures and sustainable development, and be linked to The RMA 1991 Part II – “Purpose and Principles”, and also be linked to the RMA Phase II Reforms.

Separately we desire a separate statutory spatial plan for the Gulf as we believe that without such, that our small Gulf Islands population will always mean that insufficient resources are allocated for the wellbeing and Kaitiakitanga of the Hauraki Gulf – Tikapa Moana, and its communities. Our experience with the HGIPP  process validates this view.

I / we  wish to be heard of this submission, on Waiheke if possible*  –  * [delete as necessary]

I / we  wish to support the submission of the WICPG*  – * [delete as necessary]

Signed:    ………………………………………..    Dated :    …………………………………………………

My submission raises the question of how to exit the supercity

To Committee Secretariat, Auckland Governance Legislation, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Re Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill – Auckland Governance Legislation Bill 3

From: Andrew Watkins
26 Junction Rd, Palm Beach,
Waiheke Island

email: avowkind@gmail.com
telephone: 0210307197

I am a recent resident of Waiheke and have lived in Auckland for five years after migrating here from the UK.  I run the onewaiheke.co.nz web site which supports local democracy and campaigns on the island by making available information from all sources on issues such as Auckland Governance, Waste, Energy etc.

I made a submission to Bill 2 and spoke at the select committee hearing on the island. There I was assured that the members understood and supported the concept of subsidiarity. – That by default powers should be vested in the most local form wherever possible ceding power to centralised groups only where necessary for regional planning.  I was informed by John Carter that I would be ‘surprised’ this time as to how much power the local boards would have – I am still waiting to be surprised.   There are no checks and balances in the proposed bill, no clear statement of the principle of subsidiarity and no measures to allow communities to regain control should the system be shown to be failing.

For this reason I now oppose the bill.

The nature of the process is such that by the time I and the rest of the community discover that we have been duped by wait and see promises it will be too late to do anything about it.

My primary proposal is that the bill makes explicit the means by which Waiheke  – and other similarly motivated communities may withdraw from the Amalgamation should the majority of the community request it.   The process by which Waiheke considered leaving Auckland and joining with Thames/Coromandel should remain an option.

The experience of the Amalgamation of Montreal shows that after some time the costs often outweigh the benefits and many communities have seceded from the Canadian Supercity.   I would like to preserve this right for Auckland Communities.

The political process to achieve amalgamation has been controlled all along by the politicians. We have made numerous presentations and submissions and tit is clear that opinion on the island is split between those who wish independence immediately, and those who are prepared to give the city a chance – for say 6 years.  I therefore ask that you ensure that an ‘exit’ clause is made part of the bill.

I further object to the principle that semi privatized organisations are created (CCO’s) that have minimal oversight by elected officials and do not have to provide full transparency on their business and business practices.  This is the worst of both worlds.   If we wish private organisations to provide services to the populace then they should not have monopolies, they should compete in an open market and they should have to invest their own capital in obtaining state assets.  Some services should always be state run as they are incapable of providing a fair return on investment to capital. These include Water, Transport, Health and Waste.  As the organisations providing such services will necessarily have to put public needs before profit there is no point in pretending that they can be run as private businesses and they should be fully state owned with full public accountability.   The CCO pattern is the worst of both worlds it routes tax payers money to private individuals and companies who do not have to publish or account for their prices or spending. It gives them effective monopolies preventing more efficient private companies OR community  organisations from competing in that service sector.

Specifically to Waiheke there is a clear difference of opinion between the island and the city on the nature of ‘local’ services compared to regional.  For example Water is clearly a regional service on the isthmus – ownership of dams, and the means of distribution is not something you can divide up. However on the island water is a very local – even household issue with provision made through local water storage.  We like it that way.   Hence the Watercare CCO should have no jurisdiction over Waiheke and no rates should be paid for water services.

Similarly the provision of Roads should be independent.  We will have no motorways here and wish to develop a travel network appropriate for the coming environmental changes – this would include weight limits on trucks, more space for cycleways, more public transport provision.

Similarly Waste – Waiheke had the leading waste management system in the region being the only part of Auckland that could seriously talk about zero waste by 2020.  This was lost due to the centralising, monopolising forces of the city.  The current provision takes no account of waste minimisation and rising transport costs over the next decades.

I  wish to be heard of this submission, on Waiheke if possible

Sincerely,
Andrew Watkins

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