Royal Commission report online

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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