Sue Kedgley

Wellingtonians won’t fall for Dunne’s Super city plans

by Sue Kedgley

Wellingtonians won’t fall for Dunne’s Super city plans

Wellingtonians are far too intelligent to fall for Peter Dunne’s ‘we must follow Auckland and become a super-city’ line.

The main (in fact only) reason Mr Dunne gives for his plea that Wellington fast-tracks into a super-city is that we must follow Auckland. If Auckland is becoming one, then we must become one too, or we will be left behind and become a ‘back water.’

This is slavish me-too-ism. Whatever Auckland does, we must do too. I don’t think Wellingtonians will buy that.

Wellingtonians will be even less enthusiastic about following the Auckland super-city model when they realise that the so called Auckland super-city is in fact a super con.

It is really nothing more than a master plan by Rodney Hide to shrink democracy, corporatize most of the Auckland Council’s functions and assets (and ready them for privatisation) and reduce the participation of ordinary Aucklanders in local government.

It is nothing more,IN other words, than Rogernomics part two.

Under Rodney Hide’s super-city plan, seven well functioning city Councils will be obliterated in October this year, and replaced by what will effectively be a form of state government –a huge, bloated bureaucracy led by a Mayor with sweeping new executive powers and 20 Councillors, who will represent one third of New Zealand’s population.

The Councillors will represent constituencies that are larger than almost anywhere else in the world – larger even than MP’s constituencies. This is hardly ‘local’ government!

Under Rodney’s model, these 20 Councillors wont have much to do, however –because virtually all of the important functions of the Council –transport, water, sewage etc, will be removed from the control of democratically elected Councillors and siphoned off into companies (called ‘Council Controlled Organisations’) which will be run by unelected and unaccountable directors appointed by Rodney Hide.

All major decisions about everything from new roads, public transport, local footpaths, water metres –will be made behind closed doors in secret company meetings by company directors, not by democratically elected Councillors in open meetings. The companies Will not even have to bother to publish agendas or minutes of their meetings.

Much has been made of local boards that will be created to represent local interests. In fact these local boards won’t have any power, resources or staff of their own. Any power that is delegated to them by the Auckland Council will be able to be removed, at whim, by the Council. In other words, they will have no genuine autonomy at all.

Is this what Wellingtonians want – a  corporatized structure masquerading as democracy? I don’t think Wellingtonians will be fooled. Far better we learn from Auckland’s mistakes and protect the local democracy that we have.

Published in Justice & Democracy by Sue Kedgley on Fri, February 12th, 2010   

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