Auckland Governance Legislation Committee
24 June, 2009
Tena koutou katoa,
Submission to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the Local
Government (Auckland Council) Bill.
1) Thank you for the opportunity to submit on the provisions of the Local
Government (Auckland Council) Bill. This submission is made on behalf
2) I wish to appear before the select committee to speak to this submission.
3) I am opposed to the bill in its entirety.
4) The primary reason I am opposed to the bill is that I do not believe that
major restructuring of local government is necessary in the first place. Any
issues with governance in Auckland could be resolved with relatively minor
changes in existing legislation to more clearly delineate council roles and
responsibilities, so that conflicts from overlapping functions can be avoided.
The shake-up proposed in this bill and the associated legislation is heavy
handed; it lacks an appropriate level of analysis and rationale, and the
expense its implementation will incur to ratepayers is likely to be
5) In addition, I do not believe that the council structure proposed would
provide well for the democratic and effective governance of the Auckland
Region and its diverse communities, or for the sustainable use and
protection of its natural resources.
6) The proposed top-heavy structure will have little hope of fulfilling the
purpose of local government in accordance with the Local Government Act
2002. I agree with the purpose of local government defined in the Act, and
consider it important that Auckland local government achieves that purpose:
i.e. to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf
of, communities; and to promote the social, economic, environmental, and
cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.
7) I am opposed to the creation of a single large government edifice to govern
all of Auckland. A range of government levels from national to local is
necessary to allow democracy, effective communication, resourcing and
decision-making at a local level, as well as to provide appropriate scale and
resources to deal with larger matters (e.g. integrated protection of
indigenous biodiversity, sustainable energy, water, wastewater and public
8) Consequently, I am opposed to the concentrated power envisaged for the
Mayor and the executive in the proposed Auckland Council. In addition I
consider that the proposed model of numerous small, powerless and non-
autonomous community boards is flawed and will be ineffectual.
9) The greatest challenges facing Auckland, and indeed the world today are
related to environmental quality and sustainability. No measure of economic
success will allow the Auckland region or New Zealand to avoid dealing with
environmental sustainability issues. The result of any review of Auckland
governance must be designed to tackle the growing resource and
environmental issues that we will be facing in future years, not be focused
on the issues or politics of the past. Any future governance structure for
Auckland should be tailored towards implementing original, small scale and
distributed solutions for sustainability. Similarly, it will need to effectively
deliver small scale, empowered governance for sustainable communities.
10) Should the government persist with this legislation, specific clauses of the
Bill that I wish to submit on are as follows:
Clause 8 – Governing body of Auckland Council
11) All Councillors should be elected from wards, with none voted at-large.
Auckland is such a large region that at-large elections would favour only the
wealthy or famous, and not necessarily the best representatives for
12) I strongly favour the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system for the election
of mayor and councillors at any level. This will ensure proportional and
democratic representation across the region’s communities, and in particular
will ensure ethnic groups and minorities are not disenfranchised.
13) Twenty councillors cannot represent the population of Auckland, and would
fail to provide ‘local’ governance in any sense of the word. Regardless of
the final council structure, the number of councillors should be increased to
represent Auckland’s 1.4 million citizens fairly.
14) Crown sovereignty and thus all government organisations in New Zealand
are built on the foundation of the Treaty of Waitangi. Consequently,
dedicated Maori seats must be included in future Council representation.
With the complex and overlapping Maori interests in Auckland, three Maori
seats would be a bare minimum in my view. I would also support a more
innovative formula for Maori representation than a simple seat count, if it
would lead to better representation of the various tribal interests in the
Clause 9 – Mayor of Auckland
15) The notion of a single individual vested with the powers envisaged by this
clause is anathema to me, as it would allow him or her to effectively control
the Council without proper debate or scrutiny, and it would not provide for
democratic representation of Auckland’s communities. I strongly oppose the
16) If an ‘Auckland Council’ is created, the Auckland mayor should have the
same powers as other mayors in New Zealand. The full council, not the
mayor, should appoint the deputy mayor and all committee chairs.
Clause 10 – Local boards
17) As discussed above, I do not agree that the general structure of Auckland
councils needs to be changed to provide more effective governance for the
region. However, if the structure is changed, I am opposed to the model of
numerous weak local boards. These would be entirely ineffectual.
18) Instead, I submit there should be several local councils, with boundaries
based on existing communities. (I am not overly concerned at the number of
19) It is important that the local councils are all autonomous, and resourced
sufficiently to plan, fund and deliver services locally. Only those services
that must be delivered at regional level should be governed at a regional
level (e.g. regional parkland, sustainable water, wastewater and public
transport and integration activities to protect indigenous biodiversity).
Clause 11 – Status of local boards
20) Local boards or councils should be formally established as legitimate local
authorities, not merely as powerless consultation committees reporting to a
bigger council. Local Boards should have clearly defined roles and powers
under the Resource Management Act, Local Government Act 2002 and
other relevant legislation.
Clause 11 – Membership of local boards
21) As I have submitted above, I strongly favour the democratic Single
Transferable Vote (STV) system for the election of councillors and/or board
members, to ensure proportional and democratic representation.
Clause 18 – Local Government Commission to determine boundaries of
22) I am opposed to sub-clause (2) of this section. The proposed redefinition of
the southern Auckland regional boundary would result in an administrative
split of one of mainland Auckland’s most significant natural and ecological
features – the native forest of the Hunua Ranges. This area is currently
managed mostly within one park by a single entity (Auckland Regional
23) Local government has the responsibility under the Resource Management
Act to maintain indigenous biodiversity. The proposed boundary shift would
result in an unnecessary and inefficient splitting up of the management of
the Hunua Ranges (including forest and parkland) between Auckland and
Waikato. The boundary should be left where it is, or alternatively moved
further south to encompass the southernmost portion of the Hunua Range.
25) Any other clauses that need to be changed in order to give effect to the
preceding recommendations should also be amended.
26) I oppose the privatisation of public assets. Public assets such as parks, the
buildings and contents of libraries, galleries and museums, water and
wastewater infrastructure, public transport assets, and Auckland zoo have
been paid for by Aucklanders, and should remain in their ownership and
27) It is with considerable disquiet that I have observed the progress of
government’s hasty efforts to reorganise Auckland governance since it
received the Royal Commission report earlier this year. If local government
is about anything, it is about the fair and democratic representation of the
views of local communities in decisions on matters that affect them.
28) The government has not consulted Aucklanders on whether they want to
disestablish their existing democratically elected councils. Nor has it fulfilled
its legal obligation to poll Auckland citizens on whether or not they support
the proposed reorganisation, as required by Schedule 3 of the Local
Government Act 2002.
29) Nevertheless, I trust that the select committee will hold the democratic right
of Aucklanders to be fairly represented in local government foremost in their
minds during their deliberations on this legislation. I look forward to a
governance model in Auckland that truly enables democratic local decision-
making and action by, and on behalf of the region’s communities. I also
urge the select committee to develop a governance structure that will be
innovative and flexible enough to solve the resource, sustainability and
environmental issues that we increasingly face.
Thank you for considering this submission.
<name withheld on request>