Goff on Auckland

has made a speech outlining his vision for Auckland. Let’s look at the substance:

will legislate to enshrine real decision making powers for local boards.

In principle I support the boards having their powers certain and legislated for. I think the Government erred in leaving it to the Council, even though they did state a principle of subsidiarity.

However Goff has not stated what are the powers he would legislate for local boards, so it is somewhat meaningless.

And we will review the ward boundaries and talk to communities about whether single rather than multi member wards would better ensure that all communities are fairly represented and feel their voice is being heard.

Now again in principle I agree with Labour. I think single member wards are better than multi member wards. The main reasons, being it is easier to select one Councillor from a smaller area, than multiple Councillors from a larger area. You get better informed voting.

I suspect Labour’s concerns are more on trying to gain control of the . The fact is the ward boundaries have been determined by the Local Government Commission, and should be given a chance to see how they work.

Rather than insist on single Councillor wards just for Auckland, I’d rather Labour pushed a policy of single member wards for all local bodies.

We will restore to Auckland the power to make its own decisions about the structure and powers of the seven council-owned companies that will manage three-quarters of the rates revenue provided by Aucklanders.

Now again, I have some agreement here with Labour. I do think it was essential that the Government and the ATA set establish initial CCOs. It would be an absolute disaster to just have elected Councillors take office, and no CCOs in place. They would spent their entire first term just trying to work out what to do. There would also be a serious risk of failure in key areas such as transport if there was not a unified CCO ready to go on day one.

But I don’t see why the initial CCOs need to have legislative backing to remain permanently, and the Council should in the future be able to make it own arrangements. So my solution would be to have the legislation setting up the initial CCOs expire after five years. Then from 2015 onwards, the Council can modify them as they see fit, having had the experience of seeing how they work.

We will legislate to ensure all Aucklanders have a say in a binding referendum before strategic assets can be sold.

As I have said time and time again, I’d contemplate supporting such a measure if it was balanced – demanding a referendum for both the purchase/construction of such strategic assets and their sale.

Labour though refuse to consider that the public should have a binding say on massive purchases that put up rates bills.

It is insane that Auckland Councils are buying shares in two Australian Airports, with no need for permission from ratepayers. Yet under Labour’s proposal they will need permission to sell shares in said Australian Airports.

I will invite the Mayor of Auckland to attend Cabinet committees for significant decisions relating to Auckland.

Well that would probably be almost every meeting ever held. So the Mayor will have to find an apartment to live in, in Wellington as he or she will spend more time in Wellington than Auckland.

And why stop there? Why not the Mayor of Christchurch and Dunedin also? And Hamilton?

The last idea is populist nonsense. The remaining issues raised by Goff are areas where improvements can be made, and I am supportive of that. Having said that, let’s see how the initial Council goes, before demanding change.

What is most surprising about the speech, is what Phil did not mention. Why did Phil not mention the Maori seats? Labour’s policy is to legislate for reserved seats for Maori on the Auckland Council? Has he forgotten that policy? Why on earth would he not even mention their policy in a speech about the changes he would make to the Auckland Council?

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