Royal Commission report online

March 27th, 2009 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar

The Royal Commission report is now online.

Comments shortly. Key details:

  • ARC and the seven TLAs to be dissolved and replaced with one unitary authority called the Council.
  • Some adjustment to the boundary with Waikato
  • Six elected local Councils within the Auckland Council to oversee delivery of services and local engagement.
  • Community Boards to be abolished except for the Great Barrier and Waiheke Island Community Boards which get wider delegated powers
  • An elected Mayor of Auckland will have greater executive powers than currently available in NZ, but less than some overseas models.
  • The Mayor will appoint the Deputy Mayor and Committee Chairs, propose a budget, initiate policy and have an appropriately staffed Mayoral Office.
  • The Auckland Council approves policy
  • Auckland Council to have 23 Councillors. 10 elected at large, eight from four urban wards, two from two rural wards, two from Maori electoral roll and one directly by mana whenua.
  • Council should have a role to improve social well-being
  • Estimated efficiency gains of $76 to $112 million a year.
  • Integration costs of $120m to $240m over four years

There are some good parts to this. The one Council is a real step forward. Having control of all infrastructure and planning will make a difference.

I’m not convinced the six local Councils under the one Council will be of great value. I’m not sure you need elected reps on them to oversee delivery of services. I do think local engagement is vital, but thought that would be better done at community board level. There is a risk too, the local Councils may just become internal lobby groups. But on the plus side, the overall Auckland Council will hold the power and can make decisions.

Good to see Waiheke and Great Barrier recognised as unique communities needing their own community boards, and that they are to get more powers.

The Mayoral powers look good. A good Mayor should be able to achieve and lot and be held accountable for what happens.

I do have a problem with having three of the 23 seats race based. There certainly is a need for there to be significant consultation with tangata whenua, but I have never though having elected seats restricted to those of Maori descent is the best way to achieve that. This will probably be a highly challenging area for the Government.  Incidentally on that front, people may want to note my updated disclosure statement.

Also I thought giving Councils the power of general competence was a step too far, To also make the Council to have to focus on social well-being risks it taking the ball off core services.

Overall the report would be a significant improvement on the status quo, and the Commissioners should be thanked for their work. What lies ahead is for the Government and Parliament to make decisions. There isn’t much time to get it all done by October 2010!

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36 Responses to “Royal Commission report online”

  1. jacob van hartog (300 comments) says:

    Doesnt seem to be ‘one ‘ council , as there is two rural councils on the northern and southern edges.
    The demographics will put the new city or ‘tamaki makaurau’ firmly in labour/greens hands

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  2. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Please identify yourself? How does one obtain a Username and Password?

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    jvh – it’s one council. The powers of the subsidiary councils are much diminished – more powerful than community boards, certainly, but without powers of general competence etc.

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  4. goonix (140 comments) says:

    Next up – Wellington.

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  5. jacob van hartog (300 comments) says:

    2 elected and one appointed councillors just for maori. That should go down here like a ton of bricks

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Not a fan of this at all:

    The Waitemata Local Council will have 15 councillors, two for each of the seven wards, and in addition, a local council chair appointed by councillors. The local council chair will have been elected from a ward, but on appointment, his or her place will have been taken by the next highest polling candidate in the ward.

    [DPF: Yeah for it means no certainty of outcome]

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  7. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Dollars to donuts there won’t be local elections next year.

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  8. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    I fail to see how having a total of 100 councillors will make decision-making easier or indeed cheaper. The cost savings also seem to be over-optimistic, while the incurred costs of establishing the new council appear to be on the low side. I’m not expecting a rates reduction in my lifetime.

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  9. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    DPF: Yeah for it means no certainty of outcome

    It also means there’s a good chance that chairs won’t be selected on the basis of who would do the best job, but who will come in to replace them.

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  10. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    Getting rid of the ARC would be a big tick. Race based elections bad idea, and as formulated would be grossly over representative. Subsidiary councils seem like a waste of time – whilst Auckland covers a lot of area there are not that many people in it. But its a start.

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  11. Manolo (13,838 comments) says:

    “2 elected and one appointed councillors just for maori. That should go down here like a ton of bricks”

    And rightly so. Why should we have seats based on race? “Extensive consultation with tangata whenua” does not seem a plausible reason. Why are they treated differently to the rest of us, New Zealanders?

    The policies of apartheid should’ve died long ago, but they are still among us, helped and propped by weak politicians incapable of making hard decisions, and abetted by submissive electorates.

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  12. georgebolwing (869 comments) says:

    The recommendations are another example of why judges should not be allowed to do public policy.

    It’s all about process and structure, nothing about the appropriate role of government.

    From a quick skim, it seems that they are going close to recommending that Auckland become a country in its own right. For example,

    “The Auckland Council should work closely with consumers, the industry, and central government agencies to develop a climate change and energy strategy for the region. It should, from time to time, retain its own expertise to review the performance of the various organisations including Transpower, Vector, and the Electricity Commission, to ensure security of supply”.

    And here’s me think that it was the role of the national parliament and government to review the performance of bodies created by statute.

    One small council, responsible for rubbish, pests and roads would be fine. And a massive rates cut for everyone.

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  13. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    keep your pants on manni.

    These are reccomendations, the government can accept and reject as it sees fit. Maybejonkey can show leadership by removing race from policy making. I doubt it, but maybe he can.

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  14. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    I just hope we get a better standard of governance from the new structure than we have now It Ok to have elected representation but if they dont have a clue about even the most basic principles of good governance then the executive and council officials will bamboozle them like they do now so they end up not understanding the consequences of their actions ot inactions

    Those putting themselves up for election must be able to demonstrate they meet 3 fundmental criteria

    1. they are fit for purpose. that is they have the morals and ethics to make sound judgements

    2. they have the necessary body of knowledge to make sound judgements

    3. they have the necessary experience to make sound judgements

    Until we get people who meet these criteria we will an optimum outcome.

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  15. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    A group of city councils with a rural rump.
    The Auckland Council’s boundaries should coincide with the Cities’ boundaries.

    How will someone living on the top of the region feel respresented by one ward councillor attending meetings in Queen Street.
    Rural Rodney is effectively disenfranchised.

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  16. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Come on, Owen, you can say a lot more than that on this issue.

    Do we have an increase in accountability, or a decrease? Will this be a success or a disaster? I for one am not convinced.

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  17. CraigM (694 comments) says:

    When I was a lad :-) I remember a forward thinking old fella called Robbie who was pushing for a second harbour crossing and light rail for Auckland. Circa early 1970’s I think.

    Imagine if we had acted then.

    I look forward to the new ‘Auckland Council’ being formed, sometime around ?

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  18. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    Community Boards to be abolished except for the Great Barrier and Waiheke Island Community Boards which get wider delegated powers

    Oh god no. Ah well, that means no progress or economic growth here for the next however long then. Backward leftwing bigotted whining cronys the lot of them.

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  19. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    Well, it is bad enough to have elected race based councillors but appointed???????
    Looks like perestroika in reserve to me
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7961645.stm

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  20. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    georgebolwing

    Much and all as I like the idea of a one structure format I fear rather than reduce costs we will se a major blowout as Councillors ramp up their fiefdom and empire to even greater heights. they know no better.

    I do like the French example of a mayor for every 300 citizens someone local who can take issues to a central body.

    I fear the Super City will mean the citizen will be even more divorced from their representative than at present.

    Craigm Good point and we must remind the pollies at every opportunity about the wasted years when neither central nor local government had the will capacity or capability to carry out old Robbies plans.

    Its a disgrace that everyone of them past and present must share the blame for their incompetence and arrogance in failing to act in the best interest of the citizens

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  21. jacob van hartog (300 comments) says:

    I can see owen McS point of view,the urban rural split needs more of a difference.

    If you are in Mangere Bridge or Devonport , you should have the same ‘local council’ , while those in the truly rural areas have lesser expectations of the Council ( no water supply or sewage or buses).

    There is no real savings if we continue with the 4 major urban councils in a slightly different form.

    This is because we have 3 ‘worthies’ who are not especially knowledgeable about local councils giving a report .

    better to have an ex brisbane Lord mayor, or someone from Toronto to look at it in a fresh way

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  22. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Expectations will be high but I believe the system will unravel because as I read it the Second Tier councils have no budgetary power and hence no real power.
    The old saying still stands – No representation without taxation.

    Costs will not decrease and large councils are more prone to hijacking by organised lobby groups.

    The fascination within boundaries never delivers fruit. The proper analysis begins with deciding what functions are best served by what organisation and at what scale. AFter a few years everyone will be able to name the Mayor (probably because he or she is a TV star) but noone will be able to name or recognise their councillors.

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  23. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I knew Robby well.
    He had great plans because he was an Independent Mayor who never had to fear that his plans might be put into effect.

    A bit like Norman Mailer who after yearning for revolution one evening (In the Armies of the Night) suddenly realised his dream might come true and he would be living in a nightmare.

    Robbie’s plan for a BART style rapid transit was never a goer. It was a hoax designed to explain how you could build such a tiny motorway system for Auckland and still carry the traffic.
    Even San Francisco has not been able to afford BART.

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  24. GN (18 comments) says:

    As resident of Northern Rodney, this a only positive I can see…

    “(The Commission has been unable in the time available to identify a suitable Māori name for Rodney Local Council, but recommends that one be identified after consultation with mana whenua.)”

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  25. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    They said it would save 3%. It’s frankly not worth the risk then because we all know that these things never deliver the savings promised and if 3% is the best number they can come up with they must be really struggling.

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  26. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Bevan – try this
    http://www.royalcommission.govt.nz/rccms.nsf/CONTENTPAGES/$first?open

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  27. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Bigger councils cost more, buy bigger white elephants and are less accountable. The media love it because it will produce more prima donnas and show ponies with a much bigger audience to sell stories to. Decisions will be driven by centralised politics rather than economics and local needs. Big business will mine a lucrative vein of funding, aided by judicious salting of the decision-making process.

    The voting turnout will fall further. All the problems Auckland has now will be worse in ten years time.

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  28. tvb (4,431 comments) says:

    The Commission has lobbed a big fat grenade with the 3 seats reserved for Maori. You have dismissed this superficially as “race based” seats. That comment is raced based. It will take skill to get around that one. I predict John Key will find a compromise here and that may well set the pattern for the parliamentary seats. The position of maori goes way way beyond merely dismissing reservation of representation for maori as “race based”. For instance collective maori interests have significant land holdings within the new Auckland Council. I hope they stay, but I have no confidence Rodney Hide has the political skills to sort this out and may well follow the superficial chorus by saying the proposal is “race based”.

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  29. reid (16,513 comments) says:

    I have no confidence Rodney Hide has the political skills to sort this out

    It’s a very tricky job alright, but so far in his career from my observation, Rodney has gone from strength to strength. Talking Roger into returning to Parliament was no mean feat, and with the strength of his advice standing behind Rodney, I’d give Rodney good odds on making this into an outstanding success.

    It’s about bloody time Auckland got its shit together. The ratepayers there get totally screwed via unresponsive lazy bloated unnecessarily expensive inefficient services.

    Aucklanders themselves don’t see the separate cities as being separate, why does the bureaucracy?

    The integration process will be the key here. Each city performs hundreds of processes each of which is differently designed. In each process, only one of the current cities is simply the best, better than all the rest. The trick will be identifying the key processes, identifying and measuring the KPIs for each while taking into account the fact they are rarely entirely comparable, then deciding for each process which city does it best and using that as a model and benchmark for the new super-city. Doing that without getting bogged down in the detail is an incredibly difficult proposition.

    The alternative of course is to start with a blank sheet and take the best from here and overseas and use that as a model. IT costs alone for doing it this way would be significant, but it might actually be the best way. Provided you were modeling the best and not the dross of course.

    Either option costs a lot but is the only way to achieve long term performance gains which is the raison d’etre for the whole thing anyway. Therefore I agree with the comment above: integration cost appears underestimated, significantly.

    I had the same problem as another commenter, the link took me to a logon screen with no info re: how to register. DPF can you please post a workable link.

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  30. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    I’m quite a fan of the proposed changes – particularly with relation to transport as the new RTA appears like a strengthened ARTA. The commissioners’ support for public transport ahead of simply building more roads is not surprising as they actually got out of the country and visited other cities, instead of relying upon blind ideology like Steven Joyce has done in the past week or two.

    I like the Auckland Council concept. I like the fact that the local councils are only going to be slightly more powerful community boards. I like that there will be one District Plan in the future. I like the way the central city area is dealt with and there are many other things I like.

    The big question remains… how much will the government screw with it?

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  31. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    The majority of “Maori” in Auckland (whatever “Maori” actually means) still vote on the general roll: Out of 64,400 voting age Maori, only 20,000 actually voted on the Maori roll in Auckland last election. If the majority of Maori in Auckland prefer the general roll, why does Auckland Need Maori seats?

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  32. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Pretty hard to blame the Commission for the separate maori representation when it was incumbent in their terms of reference. The entire Law is advocating this racism

    “The terms of reference for the Royal Commission
    (a) (consistent with
    the purposes and principles of local government as described in the Local Government Act 2002)”

    “Local Government Act 2002
    Part 6
    81. Contributions to decision-making processes by Maori
    · (1) A local authority must—
    o (a) establish and maintain processes to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and
    o (b) consider ways in which it may foster the development of Maori capacity to contribute to the decision-making processes of the local authority; and
    o (c) provide relevant information to Maori for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).”

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  33. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    “Pretty hard to blame the Commission for the separate maori representation when it was incumbent in their terms of reference. The entire Law is advocating this racism”

    That’s stretching the truth beyond breaking point. The law opens the door a crack to race-based electorates but it certainly doesn’t require it. The commission has booted down the door and charged through it in a way which frankly calls into question its objectivity and judgment on everything else.

    As others have said, the 3% saving is a fatuous mirage that will never happen. On the other hand the transition costs will be huge, immediate and fleece ratepayers as happened last time with the trick of pulling the rate collections forward 3 months to empty ratepayers’ pockets into Council coffers.

    I’ve skimmed through the “Executive Summary” and it is 17 pages of bureaucrat-speak, political button-pushing codswallop.

    As I said before, it will be good for Big Business and Big Government, bad for small business, will cost more, be less responsive, innovative and adaptable to communities and will not make a blind bit of difference to Auckland’s existing problems.

    But it will create better political theatre – hopefully you don’t mind subsidising other people’s ego trips because that’s what Auckland ratepayers will be doing.

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  34. petal (706 comments) says:

    “Estimated efficiency gains of $76 to $112 million a year”

    let’s assume the lower bound

    $76M, divided by 4 million people is $19 per person per year. Assuming 4 people per rate paying house hold, a projected saving of $76 per year on your rates…

    “Integration costs of $120m to $240m over four years”

    let’s assume the upper bound

    $240M, divided by 4 million people is $60, assuming 4 people per house hold, that’s $60 per year (times 4, divided by 4).

    NET gain per rate paying household for the first few years, per year?

    $16.

    WOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Net gain after that? Allowing for inflation and increase in costs, etc?

    Probably $30-$50 savings per year per rateable household paying $1500-$2500 per year.

    Will these savings be passed on?

    Anybody?

    NO.

    My prediction: 1 city willhave no net savings for rate payers.

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  35. petal (706 comments) says:

    In fact, any savings will be eliminated by the cost of the new logo. You know I’m kidding, yet you know I’m going to be right.

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  36. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    True, but at least it will eliminate the regional f*ck up that is the ARC and allow regional infrastructure to be developed.

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