David Clendon

Taking a Hiding

by David Clendon

You know your plans are not being well received when one of the major players in the sector speaks out against them. Mr Hide has already faced widespread public opposition to his plans for the Auckland Super City, as well as from other politicians, the current Auckland councils and now the President of Local Government New Zealand, Lawrence Yule.

Last week Mr Yule sent out a letter to elected members which was highly critical of Mr Hide’s plans to take away residents’ rights to have their say on the future of Auckland’s jewels.

Mr Yule gets behind Bernard Orsman’s sustained campaign in the Herald to raise awareness and present complex and important issues to Aucklanders saying that “The Herald has thrown down the gauntlet, let’s pick it up.”

Challenging words indeed especially when you look at the rest of the letter.

The logic behind the Government’s CCO proposal is unfathomable. ..under the proposals, unelected government-appointed technocrats and bureaucrats will have the power to decide on the future of billions of dollars worth of Auckland’s assets – from land to infrastructure to property.

This statement, coming from the President of what is generally a fairly non-confrontational body, is pretty direct language that reinforces what we have been saying. Auckland and its assets need to be in the control of Aucklanders, not ministerial-appointed technocrats and bueauracrats.

The proposed new regime will take away Auckland Council’s right to decide on which services should be run by a CCO, thus stripping ratepayers of yet another level of accountability and transparency.

Surely this is anathema to the principles of TAFM [Transparency, Accountability and Fiscal Management in local government] developed and driven by Minister Hide? Surely the Government and the Minister must see some irony here?

Especially since Mr Hide’s stated goal is “to put the ‘local’ back into local government”. This goal is obviously secondary to corporatising the assets of local government.

But wait here is the most damning passage about Mr Hide’s machinations:

Local Government will be working on a variety of programmes encouraging New Zealanders to vote in this year’s local government elections for a range of reasons, not least of which is do ratepayers want Auckland to be a model for the future of their assets. Watch this space.

You can read the full letter here [PDF].

Sounds like Mr Yule is worried that Auckland will be the model for any future local body amalgamations. He should be because this is a bad model. The mega-CCO system is fundamentally undemocratic and I will be pushing for amendments and supporting amendments that curtail their power.

When will Mr Hide start listening?

Published in Justice & Democracy by David Clendon on Mon, March 15th, 2010   

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