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,
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