March 27, 2009

Auckland Governance Report

The Royal Commission has released its report with recommendations on the future governance structures for the Auckland region. An executive summary is here [PDF]
Auckland will get one Council, abolishing all current structures of city and regional councils. Plus it will get an "executive mayor", much like London's Lord Mayor. Expect jostling for that position to become as fanciful as in London. My bet is that John Banks (JoBo) will become Auckland's BoJo.

The devil will be, of course, in the details and how much and what of the report will be implemented by legislation. But I quite like the idea of a unified Council for the region with stronger community boards, as I have outlined in my submission to the Royal Commission.
Waiheke Island gets mentioned once and it's all promising:
33. Generally, community boards will no longer be required in the model the Commission proposes. The Commission recommends that an exception be made for the Great Barrier and Waiheke Island Community Boards, which should be retained, with wider delegated powers.
What those delegated powers will be is still the question. But any improvement on what the community board competences are now is a plus.

The electoral process of those 23 Auckland Councillors has been rightly criticised as unfair and inequitable. It's inevitably what you get with a First Past The Post system.
The only solution is to go for 25 Councillors elected from party lists. You really don't want 25 beauty contests of candidates, but that super council to implement solid policies for our region. So why can't we vote for policies instead of show ponies? An effective 4% threshold for your list of candidates would seem much fairer than what is being suggested now - and no need for race-based seats either.

UPDATE 7 APRIL: The Government has published its decisions on what the Royal Commission has recommended.
They have reduced the number of Auckland Councillors from 23 to 20 by abolishing race-based seats (good) but not really addressing the voting system. 20 seats would give a 5% threshold if proportional voting was introduced (good) but 8 will be elected at large (bad) and 12 from wards (bad too) and this will lead to under-representation of minorities and an over-representation of the moneyed classes and lobby groups who can mount a city-wide election campaign.

The Royal Commission executive summary is not without its humour: they have been unable to find a Maori name for the Rodney area. Even the Herald was asking: "Who was Rodney?" To which any post-colonial citizen answers: "Who cares?"
On the other hand, since North Shorians are less than happy with their new name "Waitemata", it would recommend that area to be renamed "Del-Boy"

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