Paula Bennett should call for an enquiry into why the SHAs have been stuffed by Auckland Council

The Government currently has egg on its face because the Special Housing Areas are a dismal failure. With only a fraction over 100 houses built the Government has to shoulder some of the blame but it shouldn’t shun the topic when it could hold an enquiry.

Everyone knows that Auckland Council has deliberately shafted the SHAs with infrastructure and planning decisions.

For example the council deliberately cut budgets so that it could say to SHA developers there is no money to pay for needed pipes and that it was unlikely to build them for up to 30 years.

I think Paula Bennett could do more than sit back and watch. As Minister for Local Government she could, and should order an enquiry so that the facts can be laid bare for all to see.

That would allow her to follow through with legislative changes that stop Auckland Council acting like a bunch of unconscionable ratbags.

Like other Ministers she doesn’t understand Local Government and it’s not a sexy portfolio. In her drive to the top she is also prepared to take whatever portfolio her boss gives her but she isn’t willing to do much. Rocking the boat might result in a screw up. So she has been prepared to ignore things.  

I’m surprised that the Government won’t step in to rain on Auckland Council’s parade. I suspect they are worried that they will cop flack for creating the beast.

But an enquiry would help them sidestep any criticism. And the reason is simple – the problem is deeply rooted in the Council with the people who deliberately set about screwing the scrum. Councillors and officers who have – behind closed doors – operated in a way that was never intended when the Council was amalgamated.

An enquiry would show that the Council deliberately set out to stuff the SHA programme. That surely would absolve the Government?

Stepping in would also signal to the rest of NZ that something can be done about Councils. Nobody trusts Councils which is why everyone is scared of amalgamated Super Councils. Too much power corrupts.

So root out the problems and cut them off.

An enquiry would provide the escape route from blame on SHA failures and an opportunity for change.

So Paula – how about it?

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