Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Auckland: where only one man votes

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  • Sacha,

    'Interview' starts from about 6 mins into clip from CloseUp.

    Rodney Hide claims that CCO board members will be appointed "by Cabinet" and "in consultation with Auckland" - and that the new Council can sack them right away if they like. Shame that's not what his 3rd Bill says.

    Many have tried to reason with Hide but after many months the deluded little fool is still talking about Councils purely as providers of services for a price, not also centres of local democratic engagement.

    The rest of New Zealand is next.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    This is not a story that will lack for sources.

    Well, I certainly hope Bernard Orsman is going to be a little more temperate and sceptical that he's being here:

    Demolition of the popular Kingdon St railway station in Newmarket over the Christmas holidays was a foretaste of what Aucklanders can expect under the Super City, says one of Auckland's most experienced politicians.

    Mike Lee, who theoretically is in charge of public transport services as chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, found himself powerless to intervene and prevent demolition of the station.

    The ARC's "council-controlled organisation" - the Auckland Regional Transport Authority - and Kiwi Rail decided to demolish the temporary railway station before the opening of Newmarket's grand new $35 million station without political input.

    Well, far be it from me to break with tradition and interject any fact into one of the Herald's campaigns, but did they bother asking Lee where the ARC had budgeted to keep Kingdon St. (which was always a temporary station) open? Would it also be out of order to suggest that there's nothing "democratic" about Lee writing policy, and making funding commitments, via press release?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Rodney Hide claims that CCO board members will be appointed "by Cabinet" and "in consultation with Auckland" - and that the new Council can sack them right away if they like. Shame that's not what his 3rd Bill says.

    It's also a shame that his claims were allowed to pass unchallenged.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the Auckland Trains blog:

    Hide defended the government appointment of the new key agency staff saying that it wouldn’t be feasible for the new mayor and supercouncil to be elected on November 1 and then go about appointing people – but if they don’t like the Cabinet appointees, “they can sack them.”

    Sadly, there was no discussion about the most contentious of the new set -up , the fact the CCOs will be making decisions in secret, without public meetings or publicly-distributed agendas. A limp interview and a wasted opportunity there, Mark. Why didn’t you ask about the issue we’re all talking about and has even been splashed across your morning paper’s front page today?

    It's also worth reiterating that the Water CCO will effectively be the boss of the Auckland Council for some time after the council is elected, into 2012 -- it will even be able to dictate bylaws. And they can all run up debts in the name of ratepayers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    From the Auckland Trains blog:

    How do you find time to read all these blogs? Oh, that's right, it's your job. Carry on...

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    At last, some proper bloody questioning - go John Campbell. From the same wonderful AKT blog (yay for transport bloggers), Hide in Wonderland: Super-Secret Transport Agency “Increases Transparency!" about Hide's surreal Campbell Live appearance last night. Here's AKT transcribing the Minister:

    There’s no transparency and accountability, and that’s why transport isn’t working in Auckland. What the government is saying is we’re going to fix this. We’re going to have an elected council. We’re going to have elected local boards. They’re going to set the strategy. They’re going to set the direction for Auckland.

    On top of that, we’re going to have CCOs like we have but we’re going to rationalise them. They’re going to be following the direction and the policy and vision that the Auckland council sets, and the transport agency and the other CCOs are going to be held to account for service and delivery. That’s what the people of Auckland want.

    Uh huh - so local boards will set strategy then? Transport has been hamstrung not by lack of central-government-controlled funding but by lack of local accountability? Hide even denies that 8 of the 9 transport agencies to be merged into the new Transport CCO currently hold their meetings in public (because they're Councils). What a muppet.

    the Water CCO will effectively be the boss of the Auckland Council for some time after the council is elected, into 2012 -- it will even be able to dictate bylaws. And they can all run up debts in the name of ratepayers.

    ..and sell assets or enter into binding long-term private contracts - with the maximum term for water contracts coincidentally increasing to 35 years.

    Sure, the Council can fire the board members (after it finds out what they've done), but would no doubt face standard commercial compensation for breaking any contracts. Most would baulk at 35 years worth of break fees.

    The 3rd bill also proposes that the Water CCO is only bound by normal local body official information obligations until mid 2012 (coincidentally when restrictions on privatisation, etc, are lifted). Leaves a tasty window for some underhandedness before the next local elections in 2013. And Aucklanders are not allowed to use any voting system but FPP at those.

    None of this is accidental, though there are no doubt drafting errors elsewhere because of the obscene haste which the Royal Commission warned against in light of overseas experience. But then that would constitute evidence-based policy..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    On a roll. Discussion of the Campbell Live interview on Joshua Arbury's transport blog. He also asks what's driving things and whether changes are likely before the 3rd Bill becomes law.

    Government agencies including Treasury advised against putting the crucial transport function into a CCO, not integrated with planning of growth and built form - but Joyce apparently pushed Cabinet into ignoring them. Joyce's funding changes last year to build more highways at expense of maintenance and public transport including cycling and walking are already becoming apparent - and expect to see more potholes in your travels.

    Hide and Joyce in today's Herald don't mention the Water CCO at all - look over there at the Waterfront Development Agency instead, folks. It all sounds plausible unless you've been paying attention to what's proposed in the Bill.

    Consultation on the implementation of transport activities will also occur under the Resource Management Act and other regulatory requirements that will impose their disciplines on Auckland Transport, as well as giving process rights to those affected by an activity.

    Ah, that would be the same RMA weakened with Ministerial call-in provisions to avoid irksome local consultation for major transport developments like the Waterview highway. And with more "efficiencies" on the way, no doubt.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wow.

    ARC councillor Joel Cayford finds his council seems to have "agreed" with the government on plans for Queens Wharf that he's never heard of.

    In honour of Rodney, I'm calling this The New Accountability.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    In honour of Rodney, I'm calling this The New Accountability.

    And don't forget the word 'Transparent'.

    In fact, it's so transparent, I can see right through it. Wow, the term 'democratic deficit' springs to mind, again.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Joyce is adamant, says the Herald.

    Mr Joyce hit back at calls to shelve the transport CCO. "There hasn't been anything so far which suggests that it is the wrong move overall because this is a delivery agency ... Auckland will need a good agency focused on delivering the projects that have been agreed by council.
    CCID: 29921

    "The council controls the funding, the council controls who the directors are, the council controls the regional land transport strategy and the council will control the annual statement of intent.

    I presume we can now expect changes to the 3rd bill to match these assurances.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Major Facilities CCO will replace specialist Boards for diverse major institutions, require nimble decisions.

    The agency designing the Super City is working on winding up 16 major arts and other regional facilities to create a single major regional facilities council-controlled organisation for the Super City.

    The new CCO, with a board of about eight directors, will be responsible for most of Auckland's iconic facilities, such as Auckland Museum, Auckland Zoo and Motat, cultural facilities like The Edge and Bruce Mason Centre, and major stadiums, including Mt Smart and North Harbour.

    The directors will need to make calls on risky musicals, decide on a new herd of elephants at Auckland Zoo, deal with the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium and manage controversial museum director Vanda Vitali.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Even John Banks' former right hand man Cameron Brewer is wary of business associations being positioned under CCOs or even.. gasp.. their area's Local Board. Also unamused at being kept in the dark (though it seems he has since scored a direct meeting with Mark Ford).

    We don't even know who will be collecting the targeted rate that funds our very existence. It is outrageous, given we're six months out from local body elections and given the huge number of Auckland businesses we collectively represent.

    ...

    We believe business associations should not report directly to their local council, or to a CCO, but rather have direct access with the Auckland Council itself.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Wearing my political Hat...

    In response to questioning from the select committee on the 3rd bill, I said that the Transition Authority had modelled new relationships between local Boards and CCOs on exactly the same relationship between community boards and Auckland City Council; a one way relationship where local boards will be dictated to and told to go away.

    Nikki Kaye cried unfair. I said no. The existing model works and works well for Auckland City Council AKA National Party. Why shouldn't the Govt / Transiation Authority copy this model?

    Whipping off said hat and going personal.

    Wodders and the gov't aren't doing this simply for something to do (although that is a distinct possibility given the paucity of intellect in the current govt). There's a reason for it and it's somewhat opaque. I would like to think that the reasons are alturitic; probably not.

    The whole of Auckland region and its assets will be stiched up tighter than a drum skin and manipulated to the n'th degree so that it can be sliced up for the market. That much is obvious.

    The question: to whom? This bit I can't see.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    The question: to whom? This bit I can't see.

    Same as it ever was?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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