Hard News by Russell Brown


Rousing Auckland

The Auckland issues page on the National Party's website might be seen as a sort of cosmic joke – it being wholly devoid of content.

I found that via Our Auckland, which extends Herald insert The Aucklander's vigorous campaign over shortcomings in the Super City process with an informal referendum and survey called the People’s Referendum.

Apart from The Aucklander, it's hard to tell who else is involved: we're told only that it's "a coalition of groups and individuals from across the Auckland Region who want the new Auckland Council to work – and to reflect the aspirations of the people of Auckland."

Given that a good part of their beef has to do with transparency, this seems a rather thin declaration – especially when the website asks you "Enter your details as they currently appear on the electoral roll" before it even lets you see the questions.

It's all very well to say "Your details will be kept private and are only used for validation purposes," but it would be nice to have a clearer idea of who we're giving them to.

Paper forms were distributed in The Aucklander and to libraries and community centres two weeks ago and the "voting" closes at 5pm tomorrow. The questions, all Yes-No options, follow a theme:

Do you think the Government has paid enough attention to the wishes of Aucklanders before completely restructuring Auckland and how it is governed?

Has the Government officially asked you what kind of Auckland you want?

Do you want decisions about issues that affect your neighbourhood to be made by your Local Board?

Local Boards do not have the power to make decisions and bylaws. They can only make recommendations to the Auckland Council. Do you think this is fair?

Do you want the control of significant assets and the traditional work of councils, like water, transport, economic development, tourism and events, to be taken over by new style "Council Controlled Organisations" (CCOs) who aren't governed by members of your elected Council or Local Board and make decisions behind closed doors?

Would you give your permission for such "Council Controlled Organisations" (CCOs) to take charge of Auckland's most important assets?

The Royal Commission recommended three dedicated seats for Maori on the Auckland Council. Do you agree?

The Royal Commission recommended permanent Pacific and Ethnic Advisory Panels to the Auckland Council. Do you agree?

Everywhere else in New Zealand, citizens are asked by formal referendum (vote) before any significant assets, e.g. water, ports, airport, museums, stadiums, are sold or privatised. Do you think this should be the same for Aucklanders?

Do you think people on the fringe of Auckland should be asked whether they should be part of the new Auckland structure?

The interest won't so much be in the answers – I only bucked the implied answer once, on the asset sales question, where I'm not sure about referenda as a tool – as in how many people actually do respond.


I have a ticket to give away to Social Media Junction next Monday. It's a commercially-oriented social media seminar featuring the likes of Aisha Hillary, the new media specialist at Australia's SBS, and North American online reputation specialists Andy Beal and Julien Smith, along with a number of the usual suspects (Brislen, Hickey, Heeringa, me) on panels. I'm quite looking forward to it.

I'll give the ticket away to the first taker – just hit Reply and ask, but be sure you're serious about going and can commit the day to it.

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