Decisions on Auckland

April 7th, 2009 at 2:34 pm by David Farrar

The Government has announced its decisions to date on Local Government. There is a dedicated website – www.auckland.govt.nz –  with info. Note my disclosure statement.

The structure is to be:

  • One unitary Auckland Council for the region
  • One Mayor, elected at large, with governance powers
  • 20 Councillors, 8 at large and 12 from wards
  • 20 to 30 local boards as the second tier of governance
  • Local Government Commission to determine ward boundaries and number and shape of local boards
  • No Maori seats (unless voted for by the public)
  • Continue with a three year term
  • No Minister or Cabinet Committee for Auckland but an Auckland Transition Committee to be chaired by Rodney Hide.

I am very pleased that they have replaced the proposed six local Councils with a larger number of smaller local boards, that will provide better community representation.

Also pleased to see the Local Government Commission set all the boundaries, so they are presumably of equal size. I would prefer no at large Councillors, but they have at least reduced the numbers.

The Maori Party will presumably not be happy that there will be no dedicated seats for Maori. The Government has said Maori representation will continue to addressed by the Local Electoral Act which allows 5% of electors to demand a poll on establishing a Maori ward. So I guess the message for supporters of Maori wards is to go off and get 5% of Aucklanders to sign a petition for one. If they do, then a poll could be run with the 2010 election about adding them on. Sounds like a smart compromise – leave it to the people.

Overall the decisions look to be a good improvvement on the Royal Commission report, especially the introduction of smaller and more local boards to keep local government local.

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59 Responses to “Decisions on Auckland”

  1. gd (1,780 comments) says:

    Good structrual frame to begin with Now to see if we can get the quality of people and with it the quality of spending

    It will be hard unless we have a change in the top 2 inches of those elected and those in senior management.

    the past decade has been a disaster of growth in a the wrong areas bad quality governance and spending.

    We need to get rid of the mind set that citizens and ratepayers are just a big bloody ATM machine.

    It will need robust regulatory control until citizens see proof of change in attitude.

    The current lot will just ramp up the headcount and costs if they are left to their own devices They cant help themselves.

    Fiscal discipline is an unknown as far as they are concerned.

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  2. s.russell (1,650 comments) says:

    At-large elections for councillors have some pros and cons (which I do not dismiss). But one pro that I can see is that it may reduce the tendency that may infect the new structure in its early years for ward-elected councillors to be too parochial. There is a danger that such people will see themselves as representatives of their local patches first and of the whole area second, with unfortunate results. At-large elected councillors may help to compensate.

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  3. CraigM (541 comments) says:

    I really didn’t think they would come up with a plan I would buy into, but the buggers seem to have done it.

    I’ll have to have a good read tonight, but in summary it looks like it has enough in it to piss of most people equally :-)

    It’s is time we Dorklanders faced up to the mess we have and do something to fix it. I hope we dont spend time and money arguing over small stuff and lose sight of the big picture.

    Like most things, if the majority just suck it up and get behind it, it’ll work.

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  4. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    The claim that Auckland’s problems have been caused by a lack of unity is like saying that the second world war was caused by a lack of unity, or that the Korean War was caused by a lack of unity, or that the Cold War was caused by a lack of unity.

    All of these conflicts were because of conflicts between ideas and the conflicts in Auckland were between the ARC (and ACC to a lesser extent) and the other cities and districts because the ARC was committed to Smart Growth (since 1995) and intensification behind urban limits and getting people out of cars and into buses and trains, and of course keeping all development and employment centres within the central city area – the monocentric model.
    The other cities happened to disagree and favoured the multi nodal model of urban growth and development which is the norm and increasingly so.
    The proposed structure declares ARC the winner unless the Local Government Act is reformed and the RMA is reformed to prevent this council running the Council as a monocentril monolith.
    Federal systems provide contestability of ideas and of course some choice. IF the Auckland council falls into the hands of the loonies then they can wreak havoc.
    From where I sit it as though the world set up a commission who decided that Hitler and Stalin had it right and should be given the fruits of victory. All that disunity was causing to much mess.
    There should be no representation without taxation. All demands, no ability to actually deliver, so promise everything.
    These community boards will be just like the District Health Boards. NO one of any real calibre will stand.
    On the other hand, anyone who desperately wants to be Uber mayor should be disqualified from holding office.

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  5. emmess (1,398 comments) says:

    >>The Maori Party will presumably not be happy that there will be no dedicated seats for Maori. The Government has said Maori representation will continue to addressed by the Local Electoral Act which allows 5% of electors to demand a poll on establishing a Maori ward. So I guess the message for supporters of Maori wards is to go off and get 5% of Aucklanders to sign a petition for one. If they do, then a poll could be run with the 2010 election about adding them on. Sounds like a smart compromise – leave it to the people.

    Ha ha love it
    It would be great to see a referendum on this if the poll on the Herald website is anything to go by (89% against 11% in favour)
    The yes vote would crash and burn so badly it would probably take the national level Maori seats with it

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  6. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    If you’re unhappy with it Owen then that’s a good sign that it’s probably a good plan. I think this is a great step forwards, although it will be interesting to see how boundary issues and transport issues sort themselves out more fully.

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  7. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    The Government has said Maori representation will continue to addressed by the Local Electoral Act which allows 5% of electors to demand a poll on establishing a Maori ward. So I guess the message for supporters of Maori wards is to go off and get 5% of Aucklanders to sign a petition for one. If they do, then a poll could be run with the 2010 election about adding them on.

    I’m not sure that will work. 5% of the residents of Auckland city might get together? But how can they force a vote on the whole of the Auckland region? Or is it 5% of the residents in Auckland Regional Council area? Well, I suppose that could be forces to have a vote, but given that it won’t exist, the vote won’t actually mean anything…

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  8. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    The 20-30 community Boards should give enough scope to recognise the numerous very distinct communities there are in Auckland and delegate those boards to retain the special character of those communities. In essence Auckland is a series of small towns with very distinct characteristics.

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  9. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Owen, you should be happy that the Urban Development Agency no longer has compulsory acquisition powers.

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  10. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    Who will process resource consents and who will sit on Hearings Committees and where will they sit.
    Remember, the Council extends to Wellsford and Port Albert and believe it or not these landowners do apply for resource consents and they all require a site visit.

    Roll on the corporate state.

    These community boards have no powers other than to lobby the main council. They have the same weakness and District Health Boards. The at large councillors will be charismatic leaders all in the network with the Mayor and the pressure groups.

    The rural area roads will be at the bottom of the priority list and the rural areas would appear to be their to let city folk know when they have left the city. These mega amalgamations have failed where they have been tried in North America and I see no reason they should succeed here. The focus will be on the monuments and big projects and the detail will be ignored.
    The only “one plan” tried so far is in Wairarapa and the one plan ended up thicker than the previous three plans stacked on top of each other.

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  11. village idiot (748 comments) says:

    Hey! Maori party! You are being Right-Royally Screwed by your National Party bedfellows. Again and again. Enjoy!

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  12. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    Jarbury.
    I am indeed. I can only hope that a few of the other extremist ideas are down the gurgler too.

    I am still bothered by the idea that these cities can be taken out of existence without a referendum.
    Government by Philosopher Kings has never appealed to me.

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  13. Chris Diack (680 comments) says:

    Like DPF I would prefer no at-large Councillor elections – they simply make the representational links too weak. Plus these elections will be extremely expensive to contest for those candidates.

    Thus the successful candidates will come to the elections with pre existing profiles (built without any experience in local govt or with knowledge of the public policy issues) most of whom will assume the mantel of the weakly institutionalised local government parties.

    Also consider the candidate profile statement booklet 50 – 60 names with 150 words a pop – no voter will wade through this. The donkey vote will be a big factor as will a lower turnout as voters struggle to work out who to vote for.

    There is absolutely no evidence from the ARC that constituencies resulted to parochialism on the ARC itself. The At-Large Councillor elections attempt to remedy a problem that simply doesn’t exist. And who side at-large Councillors will take a region wide view – I suspect they will seek to represent those whom they think voted for them.

    I suspect the At-Large Councillor elections will not survive a change of Government. Labour will promise to remove them – its been in their manifestos forever.

    Overall I give the package 7.5 out of 10. The Government is to be congratulated for substantially improving on the Royal Commission proposals – which were frankly a shambles.

    Rodney Hide and John Key wisely brought back boards.

    Owen McShane is wrong about the Local Boards – they will grow in stature so long as the fine detail that determines their relationship with the Council is sorted properly. The board I sat on questioned smart growth and anti personal mobility policies. The officers didn’t like it; and the Council often sent its brightest officers.

    Therefore the opportunity is there – it’s what local communities make of them. They also have the opportunity to see everything the Council does in a geographical area – they get an overview that Councillors don’t because of their subcommittee structured decision making.

    On Owen’s substantive point which is to question the conversion of most of Auckland from a low density suburban environment to a medium to high density apartment lifestyle with little or no open private space, that is really a public policy choice issue not a structural one.

    The problem is that many on the centre-right who hold office in Auckland local government support this policy and do not understand its ideological underpinnings – it’s really a species of social engineering via land use regulation. They would never support Wellington trying this stuff but in their own government fora they support it.

    No one in Citizen’s and Ratepayers seriously questions smart growth – they just carry officer recommendations on this stuff without engaging their intellect.

    When Owen offers the ARC as proof, much of the ARC’s smart growth stuff was pushed through centre right pols under a centre-right chair of the ARC.

    The challenge for Owen and others of us on the centre right is to up skill centre-right local government politicians and candidates to challenge this American programme for American problems imported here and pushed by the local government planning professionals who like it because it’s the height of planning fashion.

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  14. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    Chris,
    Don’t have much argument with what you say.
    The acid test will be whether the LGA and the RMA are amended to make enforced Smart Growth impossible.
    No MULs would be a good start.
    While it can be argued that Smart Growth is a policy issue rather than a structural one I can argue from the research that function does tend to follow form. This model is highly moncentric in form and so will encourage monocentric thinking and policy.
    Images count. We watch the sunset even though we know it is an earthrise.

    All real power will be in the centre and all thoughts will focus on the centre. What connection will the people of Pt Albert and Maraetai have with the decision makers in Queen Street and when will the decision makers in Queen Street ever give a thought to the people of Port Albert and Maraetai?
    I would be much happier if the Region was shrunk to the metropolitan area and the rural areas allowed to form their own unitary councils or whatever.

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  15. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    The community boards will demand budgets and to be able employ their own staff-no representation without taxation. They will also want control over the district plans because they will all want to control development in their communities. I doubt the Auckland Council will be strong enough to oppose them since they will all want to be re elected. The mayoral candidates will want to be elected so they will say anything to keep the voters happy. Pretty soon we be back to the status quo.

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  16. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    bchapman,
    Here is the relevant section from the Govt web page:

    Decision
    Twenty to 30 Local Boards will be set up across the Auckland region as the second tier of governance.

    Explanation
    Local boards will have more powers than the current community boards in Auckland, but will not be able to raise their own revenue or hire staff.

    They will:

    advocate for their local community and have input into the Auckland Council’s plans
    develop local operational policies for local issues, for example dog control, liquor licensing and graffiti control
    influence the Auckland Council by petitioning for extra services that their community wants. Services would be paid for through a targeted rate for the local area, a local rate rise or a change in priorities. The local boards will not have the power to set rates, so any rate rise would have to be agreed by the Auckland Council.
    The Local Government Commission will decide on the numbers and boundaries for the local boards.

    Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island will have their own local boards because they are geographically isolated and have their own distinctive needs.

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  17. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    I’m hoping that the boundaries of the local boards will align with the MUL so that growth boundaries can be rigorously enforced.

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  18. Stuart Mackey (336 comments) says:

    I haves concerns with the council effectively becoming nothing more than a rubber stamp, the mayor proposing the budget, selecting his/her deputy etc, and do we have anyone with the experience to be an executive mayor of such a large area?

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  19. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    Hey, what’s with all the piling into Owen McShane with negative karma? The guy has perfectly valid points, born of years of close study of these issues.

    I feel really sorry for people like him, fated to say “told you so” over and over again, but never given any credit for the points they raise at any particular time.

    Muriel Newman’s latest NZCPR issue has a lot of pointed stuff on the amalgamation issue that got me pretty worried (including an essay from Owen).

    Here is her own essay; you should also follow the links and the references at the end to get a few eye-openers:

    http://www.nzcpr.com/weekly174.htm

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  20. gd (1,780 comments) says:

    Again IMHO unless we get people with good governance skills and abilities then forget it A structure is just that a structure the best structure with the worst people will still be just that.

    The quality of governance in local and central government is very very low. Most have no idea of the principles or how to apply them

    They continue to make bad judgement calls because they dont know any better.

    The first step to change this is to set up a Code of Requirements for everyone who seeks election to the Council.

    Those seeking election would need to demonstrate they meet 2 criteria before they can stand.

    1. They understand the principles of good governnace and can apply them in real life examples.

    2. They have an ethical and moral code that meets the majoritys standards.

    Both criteria can be examined by a simple series of tests conducted by a small panel of JPs.

    This would the PAMS ( potential axe murders) and other unsuitable candidates.

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  21. gd (1,780 comments) says:

    Last line should be this will weed out the PAMS and other unsuitable candidates.

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  22. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    jarbury
    you do appreciate that rigorously enforced growth boundaries lead to over priced residential, commercial and industrial land and generate a real estate bubble and when it bursts as has just happened a financial crisis follows because of the lost security in all the real estate.
    Do you want another round of recent events. I would have thought we might have learned something.
    I suspect that all you really want is to keep a parkway along our motorways out into the countryside so it looks as though you are in the country even if there is all manner of development over the hill.
    Greenbelts might impress astronauts but no one else is aware of them.
    The US and Swedes are masters of the art of the parkway illusion. The northern motorway and the new tunnels are a great example of a parkway. Let ‘s keep it that way and forget about the MULs.

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  23. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    I see the village idiot is still the village idiot.

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  24. garethw (205 comments) says:

    Align the wards with the local boards. Two boards in each ward will see some degree of local representation on the Council – if the elected councillor does nothing to advance the proposals made by his two local boards he shouldn’t expect to survive the next electoral cycle.

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  25. serge (108 comments) says:

    The concept is ok as a concept but in practice it will not work, it will be as usual a Robbing Hood situation, one sector of ratepayers will subsidize another sector not even in their natural community, and let’s face it whenever decisions are made to save money, 100mil in this case, it never works that way it will probably cost 200mil more to run. The priority in Auckland should be the safety of its people, not their financial management.

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  26. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Pita Sharples is spewing! John Banks is gloating! Go you white boys, go!

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  27. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    The concept is ok as a concept but in practice it will not work, it will be as usual a Robbing Hood situation, one sector of ratepayers will subsidize another sector not even in their natural community

    You mean the way the rest of the country is forced to subsidize projects for Auckland?

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  28. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Lmao what a joke Chris

    Tell you what, we will let some of uncle sams ships into Auckland Harbour and build a big ass nuclear plant to power our industry since we are all about doing our own thing.

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  29. Viking2 (11,684 comments) says:

    All this is well and good but you all need reminding that the ratepayer is the most abused person in this country. The rate payer funds all things council but the rate payer is not the only user of council things.
    I refer of course to the non paying users of services i.e. tenants. Tenants in housing pay no rates but are very definitely major users of council services etc. Worse still they get to vote those councilors who spend the ratepayers money. ( before anyone starts to tell me that tenants pay rates in their rent they do not as it is specifically disallowed under the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords are only allowed to charge for the use of the house.)
    This leads to socialist distortions i.e. voters will vote according to the feel good policies of councilors knowing full well that they can vote for policy that gives them all the nice things they want without any direct cost to themselves because their landlord will pay.
    What has this to do with Auckland. Well 40+% of the population rent houses. That 40% has voting rights with no responsibility for the cost. i.e. the have representation without responsibility.
    So while you are all bothered about representation you should also concern yourselves about how that is achieved and if it is done in a democratic manner. Clearly while we have a few payers and many users then it is not an equal argument.
    Everyone should be paying their share of the council costs of the area that they live in and use.
    Then little old ladies wouldn’t rated out of their homes by ever increasing costs of rates to the benefit of renters who use and abuse community assets at no cost.

    There is a chance here for the Minister of Ratepayers and Local Govt. to fix this problem and make living in a community fairer especially to existing rate payers. There is a change need to the Residential Tenancies Act to allow landlords to pass on rate accounts to the tenants in the same manner in which water and power costs are oncharged. From a practical point of view the landlord still has to collect and pay.
    If you agree with this then email Phil Heatley and tell him so with a copy to Rodney Hide
    phil.heatley@parliament.govt.nz
    rodney.hide@parliament.govt.nz

    More information on http://www.nzcpr.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=178&st=0&sk=t&sd=d&start=15

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  30. francis (617 comments) says:

    Two things. First, that website is solid, congratulations.

    Second, greenbelts. I usually agree with Owen’s comments but on greenbelts, not – especially when they’re greenways rather than belts. Washington DC has a fantastic greenway in Rock Creek Parkway – actually a massive park rather than a simple belt of green – and it is highly valued. I think a good greenbelt/greenway can add immense value for residents. There are lots of them in DC other than RCP and they’re always a draw.

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  31. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Viking2 – the fact that rates are a wealth tax and not a usage tax cannot be disputed – interested to see how to solve this though as poll taxes caused enormous problems in the UK and I’m not sure what the alternative is

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

    The Royal Commission actually did a lot of work on CCO’s. I see the government have toned them down without any analysis other than the knee jerk sentiments of redundant TLA councillors. What a shame – a huge opportunity lost

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  33. Chris G (106 comments) says:

    “Plus these elections will be extremely expensive to contest for those candidates”

    Na na itll be fine. Someone will have enough backing like Boris Johnson to employ Crosby/Textor… Then it’ll be all over. Uber-Mayor ahoy!

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  34. Viking2 (11,684 comments) says:

    slijmbal: just continue as it is and allow the landlord to charge the tenant for the rates. Councils should be forced (if necessary) to move to user pays charges in as many services as possible. Many councils still have all encompassing service fees hidden in their rates. ) Quite simple really. Same as any commercial lease.
    It has a beneficial side effect for Aucklanders as well. When those that have scumbag kids who graffiti everything see that it costs them to have it cleaned up they might control their kids better.
    Do you realize that Housing NZ pays the rates for all those that rent their houses. i.e. you and I as taxpayers are slugged to subsidize their house and to pay the local Mayors salary as well as paying for our own rates. In some area’s that means paying for their waste disposal and the water they use. Why should a landlord pay for those things?
    Another reason why one should never pay tax.!

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  35. reid (16,720 comments) says:

    You poor bastards who still live in Auckland should be really focused on what they’re going to do with the services especially the water.

    As you all know, the MetroWater model sucks, it’s more expensive, for what? Nothing.

    If I were you, I’d be demanding, nay rioting, for a return to a model like Wgtn’s. It’s MUCH BETTER IN EVERY WAY.

    Take it from someone who knows both sides.

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  36. Gooner (919 comments) says:

    Viking2, never a truer word spoken. Your 7:41pm comment was right on the button.

    The main reason why poll taxes were a ‘riot’ in the UK was mostly due to political management. The main reason why rates are so popular here is because they are so easy to administer and collect. Yep, basically they are a lazy way to tax people which the bureaucrats love.

    Can anyone answer me this question. Why should my elderly Mum who lives alone in an expensive house, which is expensive mainly due to Auckland’s MUL, and who uses no services apart from the road to the local shops, pay in excess of $3,000 per annum on her Rates? She uses no services. None. And she is a single pensioner. Why should she be paying $60 per week to the Council for no return?

    Of course the worst part of this is that she lives on the North Shore and their LTCCP has her rates @ $6K per annum in 8 years time! $120 per week. Disgusting.

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  37. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Owen,

    I do agree with you that cities with urban limits have had house prices rise faster than those without them. Yes it is a demand/supply thing. However, I would argue that house prices have gone up in these “ring-fenced” cities because intensification hasn’t been allowed to the necessary extent. What’s important is housing supply not land supply, so if you allow higher-density development then you can provide the required number of additional dwellings – just within the existing urban area (meaning lower transport costs, public transport promoted, fertile land saved etc.) rather than on its edge. Auckland has screwed up in the last 10 years by not providing for the necessary amount of intensification, and also making it too difficult to get consent for higher-density developments. All the rules are based around promoting sprawl, so it’s no surprise that we’ve largely ended up with that, or nothing. It’s the “nothing” that has increased house prices so much.

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  38. libertyscott (344 comments) says:

    This is a disaster for Auckland ratepayers and businesses, as it does not for one moment address what the role of local government is.

    Labour, the Alliance and the Greens defined it in the Local Government Act 2002 as “to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and in the future” and it has the “power of general competence” to do so. In other words, it has a wide open mandate and has NO restrictions on the activities it can operate or subsidise.

    National and ACT voted against this in the House, but typically they are now embracing this fully – the leftwing vision of local government able to grow into whatever role councillors see fit – milk ratepayers as much as you can.

    The megacity will be a powerful lobby for more money from central taxpayers, and will drive whatever “vision” its planners, policy makers and councillors want, including the “people should live in highrise near railway stations” “smart growth” myth. It’s a wet dream for planners and failed central government politicians wanting to tell people what to do.

    Auckland’s infrastructure problems have been because of local government’s role, not because it is poorly organised. Stormwater was neglected for decades because it didn’t get votes. The worst managed roads in Auckland are the council run ones, because they grossly underinvest in capacity improvements – as so many councils think managing congestion is about not ever building capacity, whereas they reject any form of road pricing to spread demand during the day and raise revenue to expand road capacity. Public transport in Auckland was most appallingly managed when the ARA ran most of the buses as a monopoly subsidising itself.

    Local government if it is to exist, should delineate between property rights and manage itself out of operational control of public goods.

    National clearly supports the Helen Clark, Judith Tizard, Sandra Lee vision of what the role of local government is.

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  39. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    Pita Sharples has been complaining that the government, by not giving one race preferential treatment on the new council, is guilty of “systemic racism”. Now I normally dislike racially based or targeted policy, but I really think someone needs to give a remedial course to Maori (or at least the Maori party) on what racism actually means.

    I also found it funny that Pita was equating polynesian with Maori: complaining that the polynesians in the largest “polynesian city” would not get representation without the Maori seats. This of course ignores the pacific islanders who are also included in polynesian set but were not going to get any race based seats, and would actually have their voice diluted by assigning seats to Maori. Rather typical of Maori Party thinking: that there are “Maori” and “Everybody else”, and they don’t give a toss about everybody else.

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  40. sonic (1,995 comments) says:

    Most of us gave the National Party/Maori Party alliance 6 months at most.

    Only one month out, not bad!

    Still I did not expect the National Party to blow it apart quite like this, by sticking up two fingers to Maoridom in Auckland and all across the country.

    So it’s up to John and Rodney now, oops.

    [DPF: Ipredict have a stock on if the agreement will be terminated in 2009. If you have the courage of your words, go start buying some stock. Me I have money invested in the agreement carrying on. You see parties disagreeing on an issue is part of MMP]

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  41. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,760 comments) says:

    What a unitary Auckland Council for the region needs is a decent Mayor. John Banks will be perfect for the role.

    I voted for Boris Johnson here in London and he has done a brilliant job.

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  42. deanknight (227 comments) says:

    But is the dissent a breach of collective responsibility and the Cabinet Manual?

    http://www.laws179.co.nz/2009/04/dissenting-views-of-minister-of-maori.html

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  43. goodgod (1,317 comments) says:

    I refer of course to the non paying users of services i.e. tenants. Tenants in housing pay no rates but are very definitely major users of council services etc. Worse still they get to vote those councilors who spend the ratepayers money. ( before anyone starts to tell me that tenants pay rates in their rent they do not as it is specifically disallowed under the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords are only allowed to charge for the use of the house.)

    Tenants must pay excess water charges, and very soon they will pay excess damage above the cost of the bond and the market rent for a house is decided by the total cost of running the property.

    For the purposes of this Act, the market rent for any tenancy shall be the rent that, without regard to the personal circumstances of the landlord or the tenant, a willing landlord might reasonably expect to receive and a willing tenant might reasonably expect to pay for the tenancy, taking into consideration the general level of rents (other than income-related rents within the meaning of section 42(1) of the Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters Act 1992) for comparable tenancies of comparable premises in the locality or in similar localities and such other matters as the Tribunal considers relevant.

    Rates are included in that cost – whether it is stated or not as a “reasonable” cost. Not even income related rents of HNZ properties are completely excluded from market rent. You’re clearly not a landlord. Leave it to us.

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  44. goodgod (1,317 comments) says:

    I refer of course to the non paying users of services i.e. tenants. Tenants in housing pay no rates but are very definitely major users of council services etc. Worse still they get to vote those councilors who spend the ratepayers money. ( before anyone starts to tell me that tenants pay rates in their rent they do not as it is specifically disallowed under the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords are only allowed to charge for the use of the house.)

    Tenants must pay excess water charges, and very soon they will pay excess damage above the cost of the bond and the market rent for a house is decided by the total cost of running the property.

    For the purposes of this Act, the market rent for any tenancy shall be the rent that, without regard to the personal circumstances of the landlord or the tenant, a willing landlord might reasonably expect to receive and a willing tenant might reasonably expect to pay for the tenancy, taking into consideration the general level of rents (other than income-related rents within the meaning of section 42(1) of the Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters Act 1992) for comparable tenancies of comparable premises in the locality or in similar localities and such other matters as the Tribunal considers relevant.

    Rates are included in that cost – whether it is stated or not as a “reasonable” cost. Not even income related rents of HNZ properties are completely excluded from market rent. You’re clearly not a landlord. Leave it to us.

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  45. goodgod (1,317 comments) says:

    Had to chuckle at Pita Sharples mumbling about institutionalised racism last night at having the maori seats removed. How much more racist does an instituion get than a political party based on race?

    As Cullen acknowledged yesterday, when he was asked why he was taking a job from the “Rich Prick”, he said there were a lot of ironies in political life. Plenty of understatement too, no doubt.

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  46. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Maori will be greeting National’s decision to over ride the Commissions recommendation on Maori seats as MANA ENHANCING and will be firming up their resolve to attach themselves to the MANA ENHANCING right-wing party again when the opportunity next arises.

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  47. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Had to chuckle at Pita Sharples mumbling..
    Yes goodgod, yes. How we chuckle as they struggle with our ways.

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  48. KiwiGreg (3,278 comments) says:

    “How we chuckle as they struggle with our ways.”

    Could you be any more patronising?

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  49. wapjap (1 comment) says:

    Will the rating system be Annual Value, Capital Value or Land Value. How will existing differential rating be handled and differnt user charges. Has anyone done any modelling on this? Given the large varience in current average rates coupled with going to one rating system there is going to be a lot of vary large changes to the level of rates some people pay.

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  50. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    Even if this was the greatest idea since the internet – this is not the time.

    We are in recession and this diverts everyone from the main task.

    Should we really be chosing the next couple of years to write a Long Term Community Plan for Uber Auckland and then a One RMA Spatial Plan (an undefined term) for Uber Auckland.

    Haven’t our business people got better things to do with their time – have they any time at tall for such stuff?

    Use it as a doorstop until we know whether the RMA reforms and Stephen Joyce’s brilliant reforms have solved Auckland’s infrastructure problems anyhow.

    Can you imagine the size and complexity of a Long Term Community Plan for the “community” that extends from Port Albert and Wellsford to Maraetai and Waiuku and thereabouts?

    The LTCP will cost millions and be a total waste of time. Have any of you read the 41 page paper by Rod Oram, commissioned by the Royal Commission, in which he writes about what Auckland will be like in the year 2060? I repeat – TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTY?

    What makes him qualified to write such stuff? I would have written the paper for very little because it would have been very short – namely “I haven’t the faintest idea – and why are you asking for such twaddle?”

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  51. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    Gooner, Goodgod, you guys are right. So much council expenditure does NOT benefit poorer ratepayers, that this is an outright main reason for increases in inequality in our society.

    And that law that forbids landlords to recoup rates in their rental charges is just economic madness, who the F–k dreamed it up, some economically illiterate class warfare maniac like Pol Pot?

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  52. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    How does rent not include rates, in practical terms?

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  53. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    jarbury (63) Vote: Add rating 1 Subtract rating 2 Says:
    April 7th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    “Owen,

    I do agree with you that cities with urban limits have had house prices rise faster than those without them. Yes it is a demand/supply thing. However, I would argue that house prices have gone up in these “ring-fenced” cities because intensification hasn’t been allowed to the necessary extent……” ETC

    In practice, mid/high density housing closer to the city centre is much more expensive than new homes on the fringe, for the simple reason of the difference in the price commanded by the LAND. The ratio is roughly consistent; the resulting price of mid/high density housing closer to the city centre is higher if fringe land is also higher. If fringe sections are $40,000, the land closer to the city centre will be a third the price it will be if fringe sections are $120,000, and a sixth the price it will be if fringe sections are $240,000.

    Alain Bertaud, in “The Costs of Utopia”, shows an interesting graph of urban density profile for Curitiba and for Portland, two cities that are advocated as models of urban limit planning. What is clearly visible in contrast to less-restricted cities, is that infill development is taking place predominantly at the fringes of these cities because frankly that is the only place that the houses that result from infill development are (relatively) affordable.

    By contrast, in less regulated cities, the depression of all land values as a result of the extremely low prices at the fringe, result in demand for infill development closer to the city centre being met at an affordable equilibrium price. Paradoxically, if you want infill development to occur closer to the city centre, i.e. a “natural” density profile; you need to ensure that the land is as cheap as possible by ensuring that the land on the fringes is worth next to nothing. There is no other mechanism by which you can achieve these results other than by totalitarian style confiscation of property.

    The ironic outcome is that average commute distances are higher in Portland than if they had allowed a natural density profile to occur.

    Sadly, there is very little grasp of the realities of economic supply and demand and incentive issues, with our “planner” class that has so much misplaced authority today. People like Owen McShane are right to be as sceptical as they are.

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  54. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    Alan Moran, in “The Tragedy of Planning: Losing The Australian Dream”, discusses the fact that infrastructure closer to the city centre is older, close to capacity, and very expensive to access and temporarily withhold for upgrading. It is in fact much cheaper to do Greenfields infrastructure. Note that the price for a greenfields development for Wellington hospital (at Porirua) was much cheaper than the reconstruction in Newtown that was appallingly chosen on highly political grounds.

    One of the perverse results of insisting on “development/infrastructure fees” for fringe development and not for inner city infill development, is that the cost burden falls heavily on the poorer people who buy the cheapest homes they can, at the fringes – they are paying for their own “development/infrastructure costs” AND paying in rates for the cost of infill development infrastructure upgrading, the benefits of which are captured by the rich people who buy the expensive inner city dwellings.

    The conceits of the “planner” class are actually responsible for a lot in the form of perverse outcomes. The tragedy is that those who suffer the most are unaware of where the true blame lies.

    I am coming more and more to the conclusion that the fashionable mania that insists that we live in higher densities to save resources, is most likely wrong in any case. As Hugh P. and Owen McShane have been pointing out, studies tend to show that high density living is more wasteful of resources, not less wasteful. In a complex world, I have developed a deep skepticism of all fashionable conceits that insist on “all-knowingness”; the USSR got all this completely wrong and I doubt we are likely to do any better. I do not believe for a a moment that the USSR was a dismal failure “in spite of the advantage of being able to plan high density living and public transport”. I insist that those things were an integral part of the “because of”,……the “reasons why” the USSR’s economy failed so dismally.

    Another thing I liken this to, is the fashionable scepticism for man re-ordering nature by genetic modification and the like…….yet we seem to despise the fact that cities can and do develop “naturally” and there is an intrinsic beauty and balance about the results that are actually spoiled by our conceited interference. Look at those urban density profiles in the Alain Bertaud study: aren’t the profiles in non-regulated cities so beautifully uniform and “natural”? But look at the ugly results in Portland; and the intentions of the regulations are not achieved, in fact the consequences are perverse on every level.

    Think about this: if resources really do become so scarce that we have regular power cuts, would you rather be living in an inner city dystopia, or out in the suburbs where everyone firing the barbecue up to cook their dinner, or lighting candles, won’t asphyxiate the entire neighbourhood? There are many, many implications like this one to consider. Quite frankly, the opportunities for “sustainable living” are much, much higher out in the suburbs.

    The “Pacific Ecologist” magazine had a lavishly illustrated article a few months ago on how Cuba was a wonderful example of how to exist on a minimum of resources. There was not a high rise building to be seen apart from ruins. Everyone was flat out tilling the land around their separate houses, and running livestock and little cottage industries in their yards. Not only were there no trains, but there was almost no commuting, full stop. The sort of jobs that we commute to here in NZ, simply cease to exist in any case, long before resources become so scarce that commuting becomes impossible.

    We really, really need to be thinking these things out a lot, lot more intelligently than we are. We are already suffering enough consequences of this sort of lack of imagination, in financial markets and in social policy and many other areas.

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  55. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    # jarbury (64) Vote: Add rating 0 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    April 8th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    “How does rent not include rates, in practical terms?”

    You ask the people who got that law passed, that question, Jarbury. You will find their level of economic understanding to be that of a 5 year old (or of Pol Pot or Che Guevara or Hugo Chavez – it is about the same thing). Winston Churchill said in the 1920’s, that Vladimir Lenin was getting the world’s most expensive education in basic economics; it was costing millions of Russian lives.

    We are not that bad, but nevertheless we are paying a high price in NZ today for economic ignorance.

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  56. PhilBest (4,757 comments) says:

    ……we are paying a high price in NZ today for economic ignorance AND a petty class warfare type mentality.

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  57. Owen McShane (1,182 comments) says:

    If there is going to be one rate then some people will pay less and some will pay more.
    None seems to have done the basic exercise needed to figure out how the chips would fall if the current revenue of the region was raised by spreading a single rate over the whole region.

    That would focus people’s minds.

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  58. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Thanks for your (fairly long) responses Phil, it is definitely food for thought.

    I still can’t see why land supply is more important than housing supply in determining affordability. Surely prices go up if there’s a deficit in the number of housing units compared with demand, rather than a deficit in the supply of land comapred with demand. I guess if you’re a greenfields property developer you’re more concerned by the latter than the former though.

    Of course land near the centre of a city will be more expensive than land towards the edge in a place like Auckland. That’s not always the case though, with the classic example being some American cities like Detroit, where the inner-city has been largely abandoned. However, even if the inner-city land is 4-6 times more expensive than that on the fringe, on a per-unit basis this shouldn’t matter if you are building at 4-6 times the density of what you would do on the fringe. Construction costs would be higher for high-rise buildings, but they certainly aren’t necessary to increase densities. Just look at the densities of inner Paris, with barely much at all over four or five levels.

    Places like Portland, and even Auckland, have experienced decreased affordability because they have not adequately provided for intensification to “off-set” having an MUL. For a start, in Auckland City the Residential 8 zone was meant to the be main way in which the Regional Growth Strategy was implemented, yet it’s now been 10 years since that Growth Strategy was published and we barely see any Residential 8 zoning throughout Auckland. Intensification of existing dwellings has been held back by stupid District Plan rules that are based on “units-per-site” density controls that actively promote unaffordability. Developers should be able to choose whether they put one 300m2 house on a site or two 150m2 townhouses, as either option are the same size and would have largely similar environmental effects. But density rules make the single 300m2 house the only option, and totally ruin affordability. I can only afford to live in Herne Bay because I live in a divided villa – which would be illegal under the current District Plan rules.

    If you want proof that intensification improves affordability, just look at where the cheaper places to rent and buy are within the Auckland Region. They’re not the McMansions in Flat Bush or Albany; but rather they’re the sausage flats in Mt Roskill, the apartments in the CBD, as well as the stand-alone houses in further out areas. I know that developers build McMansions in Flat Bush because that’s what they need to do to make money from the vastly inflated land prices out there (partially caused by the MUL I agree), but in the end it’s the District Plan rules forcing them to build stand-alone houses or face a hugely complex resource consent for anything else, which are the real culprits.

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  59. Viking2 (11,684 comments) says:

    Goodgod; for your benefit I am a landlord with a reasonable number of houses. and have been for quite a few years. Clearly while you may know some of the clauses in the Act there is one that specifically says that rates cannot be charged to the tenants and that the only charges that can be charged are those related to the use of the house. Heatley quoted that clause back to me and because I am not at the computer it is on I am unable to quote which clause,for this reply.
    The point is clearly that each council has a different interpretation of what it will spend its money on and what the ratepayer pays for. In Tauranga ratepayers don’t pay for rubbish or water but in Rotorua they do. That means that I as a rate payer pay for my tenants rubbish disposal and their water use in Rotorua but not in Tauranga. And we can go on all day with those sorts of examples. But as I said I only get to vote once in the area I live despite paying rates all over the place.
    Now the issue with that is that tenants don’t give a flying fig how much the council spends and indeed are encouraged by the bloody socialist councilors to vote for those that will give them the nicest toys and play things. And who pays, the landlord.
    If you are as you claim a landlord then you will know that rents simply don’t cut the mustard when it comes to return on asset value, so one is left wondering why you wouldn’t want the tenants to reimburse you for their voting rights. Voting rights surely are property rights especially when you consider that the council uses the ability to levy rates on your property for its borrowing security.
    Would you want to wake up one morning and find that Company finance Corp. that has lent money to your council to do the things that non payers demand is now demanding back its loan and because your properties are used as the the assets against which rates are raised you now have to front up with a lot more money to pay the loan.
    Might sound unlikely but that is what could happen. Some American cities are facing this kind of prospect.

    Basic to all this though is that the user should pay and at least by being given the bill they are made aware of what it costs
    to live in society.
    But I suppose that really you are Liarbor follower and like Clark and her cronies like to rent houses to the poor.!

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