Garner on Wellington


Surely this is the most ridiculous and offensive statistic this week: The Wellington region currently has 95 councillors.

It’s simply indefensible having so many on the payroll. The wider Wellington region is over-governed and it’s getting nobody anywhere fast – there are nine mayors for just 490,000 people.

Wellington doesn’t need nine mayors, it just needs one good one with a genuine mandate to get things moving. The fragmentation also means duplication, nine CEOs – nine of everything basically.

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett said it best this week when he stated: “This is serious. We need to pool our resources and get it together.”

The super-city plan is simple. One mayor, 21 councillors and a bunch of local boards representing each ward from Miramar to Masterton.

Everyone will get a voice.

When you hear voices on this issue, ask yourself a question – are they one of those who might lose their ratepayer funded job, if occurs?

So, the model proposed for Wellington is essentially a tweaked version of what’s happened in Auckland. How’s it going in the City of Sails? It’s certainly had some teething problems. But Wellington can learn by going second.

It hasn’t been helped by Auckland Mayor Len Brown not being able to keep it in his pants. He’s largely lost his popularity, and with it his mandate. But his political impotence is all his fault, not the super-city model’s.

Regardless, Auckland now has an executive council which is a one-stop shop for decision-making. Government ministers know who they have to deal with when they turn up in town. Everything’s been streamlined.

On big infrastructure, consenting and building issues there is simply one point of contact.

This means the best decisions can be made without too many compromises. Yes rates are increasing more than Brown promised – but in Wellington city it’s the same, a 4.5 per cent hike when inflation sits at just 1 per cent.

4.5% is way too high a rates increase.

So super-city opponents, don’t fear change. Consider it an opportunity.

A Wellington super-city needs a super person to lead it – someone who understands business and both central and local government.

It’s not a role for Celia Wade-Brown. It’s a job for Fran Wilde.

Fran would be a very good regional leader – in fact she already is. Nick Leggett would be also.

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