Hard News by Russell Brown


So what now?

Yesterday's decision by 13 Auckland councillors to remove the council's voice from a Unitary Plan process in which, by any assessment, it should be the major player is being greeted as a victory by those responsible.

Richard Burton, the leader of the Auckland 2040 group, who gave an astonishingly arrogant interview on Morning Report today, appears to be believe he and his fellow travellers have dealt a blow to urban intensification.

Councillors and local board members who supported the bid to withdraw the council's evidence believe they have have stood up for proper process and democracy – on behalf of residents who were not to have had  the chance to submit on the council's revised proposal to the Independent Panel considering the Unitary Plan because they did not submit on the more tepid original. And, yes, the way the the process was designed in legislation did seem unfair to those residents.

But what none of them – and they roughly divide into Burton and his mendacious nimby mates; the councillors who oppose intensification but have been typically lazy about engaging with the process; and councillors and board members who support urban goals but believe they stood on process here – seems to be able to outline is how, beyond a mere moral victory, this actually helps them.

Central government has long since walked away from its natural supporters in Auckland and their strident opposition to intensification. Housing New Zealand wants the panel to go further on intensification than the council did in its now-junked evidence. It's not like they go away or the process stops.

Some of you understand this much better than I do. So what now?

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