Orsman on Auckland Council

Bernard Orsman gives a good summary of the issues around and what he thinks will happen:

Possible outcome: the concept of subsidiarity will be inserted in the bill and, given the weight of public opinion, the select committee will go beyond principles and prescribe at least some of the powers and functions for the local boards. The Government’s goal is to take the heat out of the Super City debate by getting the structure in tune with Aucklanders’ wishes, not inflame it further. The bill will be changed to make it clear the Auckland Council is a servant, not the master, and include a dispute mechanism when things invariably go wrong. The number of local boards will be fewer than 20, possibly around 15, and they will be renamed community councils.

Everyone agrees the Boards will have more powers. I am a fan of the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of what you call them, I would personally avoid a name that includes “council” as I think people may stll confuse them with the old TLAs.

I also think 15 local boards is too few. You’ll end up with some areas getting lumped in with other areas that have little in common. It will also remove much flexibility from the Local Government Commission. The original plan of 20 – 30 would give the LGC flexibility to cater for diverse communities.

Possible outcome: At-large councillors will go and there will be 20 or so ward councillors. If local boards are constituted with sufficient powers, ward councillors will be inclined to focus on regional issues. There is also the issue of keeping the voting system simple. Asking voters to select a ward councillor and eight councillors at large is not simple.

I think that would be a good outcome. I think a mixture of ward and at large would be confusing.

Possible outcome: No change to the powers of the mayor or the voting system. Despite STV delivering a majority mandate, the voting system is complicated and unlikely to be adopted by Government MPs on the select committee.

The Mayoral powers should not be diminished. They are already quite weak compared to some overseas models. I personally would favour STV (or AV) for the Mayoralty but the current law allows the voters to decide this, and most of Auckland is on FPP for now.

Possible outcome: The best Rodney can hope for is to be carved up with the area north of Orewa going into Kaipara District Council and everything to the south and west coming under the Super City. There is more likelihood of Franklin staying together. The boundary in the bill, based on the water catchments for Manukau Harbour and Waikato River, could be moved north but will not move south. The select committee will also tidy up the southern boundary for two of Auckland’s largest water dams and three regional parks to stay in Auckland rather than transfer to Waikato District Council.

Don’t really cares. Whatever works and does not piss too many people off.

Possible outcome: This is one for the ninth floor of the Beehive. If John Key wants a long-term relationship between National and the Maori Party, and he is putting a lot of effort into that, he will provide Maori seats. However, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide is understood to strongly oppose Maori seats and the issue is shaping up as a test of the Government’s three-way party arrangement.

My preferred position is to let Aucklanders decide. Wellington should not decide for Auckland. Current local body laws allows for a Maori ward if people vote for it in a referendum. Schedule a referendum with the 2010 elections.

While I understand the motiviations of those who advocate for Maori seats, I worry that long-term they may lead to problems like we see in Fiji. But you know if Aucklanders vote for them, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

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