Time to rein in Auckland Council

The government needs to show some courage, and fix up the governing legislation they enacted to help fix Auckland.

Richard Harman at Politik looks at the issue:

Pressure is slowly mounting on the Government to review the legislation governing the Auckland Council.

And the issue has the potential to cool relations between the Government and its Auckland party members if the Auckland Council does not become more user friendly.

ACT Leader David Seymour is leading the charge with his party planning a one day conference next month in which he will float some ideas for change in Auckland.

But there are National Party members and MPs who also believe the time may be coming to change the legislation to make the Council more accountable to voters.

However the Minister of Local Government, Paula Bennett, has no plans at present to change the legislation.

She may not be able to hold that position interminably.

Questions about the Council surfaced at the National Party’s northern regional conference earlier this year and more recently POLITIK understands that similar questions have been asked at party meetings in Auckland.

One Auckland MP told POLITIK that he would be open to any change that would make the Council less remote and more accountable.

Paula Bennett should spend more time in Auckland rather than swanning around in Wellington. There is real anger about Auckland Council with many residents feeling powerless to control the bureaucrats and the Mayor.

Mr Seymour says that a large amount of the work that he deals with as Epsom MP relates to the Auckland Council.

“People are frustrated about rates and remotesss,” he told POLITIK.

What is ironic is that the Auckland Council legislation was designed by former ACT leader, Rodney Hide.

Now Mr Seymour favours amendment.

He says that the super-city has achieved a lot in terms of regional services like transport.

“But I think we should be open to continuous improvement.”

He will not reveal precisely what he will propose at the ACT conference but it is clear he favours greater powers and responsibilities being given to local boards.

And because he is critical of the way the boards operate without any responsibility for raising the money they spend, he may also favour some taxing powers being given to the boards.

National MPs who spoke to POLITIK would not go that far.

Giving useless local politicians taxing powers would be like giving bags of crack cocaine to a junkie. Seymour needs to pull his head in on that. What needs to happen is there is less ability to raise taxes in the form of rates.

We need a TABOR for local governance, not giving local muppets the power to tax.

I think a test case where some politicians get taken to court and held responsible for their profligate spending might focus a few minds.


– Politik


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