Blaming 'Wellington' a smoke screen says North Shore Mayor

Monday 8 March 2010, 11:09AM
By North Shore City Council


Blaming ‘Wellington’ for the Super City fiasco is a smoke screen to divert attention from the real culprits, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“A disturbing trend is appearing where some commentators and super city supporters are starting to blame ‘Wellington’ for the impending super city train wreck, in a shrewd attempt to shift the blame from the real culprits who are right here in Auckland under our very noses,” Mayor Williams said.

“Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett recently blamed ‘Wellington and a select group of bureaucrats’ for super city failings, AUT academic Peter McKinley recently said ‘the whole restructuring process is being driven from Wellington’, and mayoral hopeful John Banks recently tried to blame ‘the backroom people, the architects of the grand plan’ in Wellington.”

“The super city is the creation of local government minister and Epsom MP Rodney Hide and has been rubber stamped by Cabinet every step of the way, eight of whom are Auckland MPs themselves, including five here on the North Shore; John Key, Wayne Mapp, Murray McCully, Jonathan Coleman and Steven Joyce.”

“All the decisions, from setting up the super city and super mayor, to setting up the local boards as ‘talk shops’ without any power or funding in their own right, to the rules setting up the ward gerrymander, to handing the vast bulk of community assets over to unelected council company boards meeting in secret, are all decisions taken by the Minister and the Cabinet.”

“The truth is that the Wellington bureaucrats, for once in their lives, have actually helped the people of Auckland. Their inherent inability to move quickly and their endlessly frustrating processes have acted as a bulwark against the government’s ‘crash through’ approach and given Aucklanders just enough time to see the true horror of the super city model before it is too late.”

“The government is behaving like Dr. Frankenstein running from its own monster, and looking for scapegoats. Next they will be blaming ‘Wellington’ for the appointment of dozens of the government’s cronies onto council company boards, then they will try blaming the Auckland Transition Agency, then the new Auckland Council itself and its massive bureaucracy, for failing the people of Auckland, which takes us back to square one,” Mayor Williams said.

Eleven months ago on 7 April 2009 Rodney Hide launched his attack on the democracy of Auckland. His speech and press statement that day stated “The Government had rejected the Royal Commission’s proposal of six local councils because it would mean unnecessary and costly duplication of service delivery, and be too large to allow effective grassroots community representation. “We now have a simpler, clearer governance structure that provides strong leadership at the regional level and community representation at the local level.”

Goodness knows how Rodney Hide thinks that a super council with over 6,000 staff, eight siloed non-elected CCO’s handling 75 percent of council business, and 19 toothless local boards is a "simpler, clearer governance structure " than the well established democratically accountable local units of government they replace.

So much for his much promised, much vaunted “one mayor, one council, one voice for Auckland”. What we are being delivered is a far cry from his claims of 7 April.