Speaker by Various Artists


Grand Theft Auckland

by Russel Norman

There is something awry in the state of Auckland - The Growth Machine is being constrained. That great Machine is feeling restricted. And those select few who make a whole lot of money from the Growth Machine - the property developers, the motorway builders, the corporate investors - are unhappy, very unhappy.

They have found themselves constrained by local communities with too much power under the Resource Management Act. The RMA has given local community groups the right to take them to the Environment Court.

And the RMA is pissing them off.

They have found themselves constrained by a metropolitan urban limit (MUL) that says they can’t keep putting new sprawling subdivisions on greenfield sites serviced by motorways.

And the MUL is angering them.

They have found themselves constrained by elected councillors who are under the influence of the community that elected them; councillors who are influenced by communities that don’t want to sacrifice green space to development.

And they are railing against all these elected councillors.

And they have found themselves constrained by a regional land transport strategy that says that better buses and trains, walking, and cycling should be the priority ahead of new motorway developments that bulldoze their way through the ‘burbs.

And they are furious that 50 years of road wisdom is being ignored.

And they have run up against laws that block privatisation of assets, and a timid central government that won’t sell them cheap public assets like the 80s and 90s.

And they can almost taste the money they made last time around.

So, they are going to do something about it.

They’re going to give those pesky community groups the bash, by changing the RMA so they can’t get into the Environment Court without coming up with a bond before they walk through the door and then bankrupt them if they persist.

They will shut up the community groups.

They’re going to abolish the constraint of the metropolitian urban limit so those paddocks they own on the far side of that infuriating line will now be worth millions as they can be used for urban sprawl.

They will lock in the sprawl.

They’re going to conduct a forced amalgamation of the Auckland councils so they will be left with just 20 councillors for 1.4million people - ,20 councillors who will have even larger electorates than MPs and even less connection with their communities, and who will be less under the sway of the park-loving, library-loving, community hall-loving unwashed masses.

They will shut up the local councillors concerned about being re-elected.

They’re going to use central government funding of motorways to subvert regional land transport strategies so that Fulton Hogan and all the rest can get on with building motorways and making money; regardless of whether there is a positive benefit to cost ratio or not.

They will take the wheel clamps off the bulldozers.

And they will hand over $28billion in assets to a 20 member über Council they control who won’t have legislative or political constraints on privatisation.

They will liberate these assets from the clutches of the public sector.

They have a plan and they are going to push it through, because they remember that blitzkrieg worked well in 1939 and 1984 and 1990 and it can work again.

Melissa Lee was right when she said people are coming along the Western Motorway to steal our stuff. But they don’t live in South Auckland, they come from Auckland Airport; they don’t wear balaclavas, they wear suits; and they don’t drive beat up Toyotas, they are driven in Crown limos. Grand Theft Auckland is heading our way.

Time to get up off the couch and fight for your stuff and your democracy.

Russel Norman

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