Remuneration Authority pay rates appear to lack consistency says North Shore Mayor

Thursday 24 June 2010, 4:47PM
By North Shore City Council


The determination by the Remuneration Authority setting the pay rates for the Mayor and elected members of the new Auckland Council, and for local board members, appears to lack consistency and has overlooked the size and scope of the job, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“The Remuneration Authority is to be congratulated for getting the determination out in a timely fashion, well ahead of the election, and while the salary they have set for the new Mayor of greater Auckland appears to stack up, those for the new Auckland Council members seem to lack consistency,” Mayor Williams said.

“A member of the new Auckland Council will have on average around 70,000 people to serve and represent, with the largest being Orakei Ward with one councillor and 81,100 people, and the Waitakere Ward with two councillors serving 158,700 people or 79,350 people each. This is a larger population than for a parliamentary electorate, yet the pay rates are significantly less than that of an MP.”

“For example, as the MP for Epsom, Rodney Hide gets paid a base salary of $131,000 to look after the 60,645 people, plus allowances are other perks, and paid electorate staff and offices. Yet the equivalent Auckland Councillor is supposed to look after many more people on a significantly lower base salary of $80,000 and with virtually no support resources what-so-ever.”

“Even comparisons with Wellington cause puzzlement. Each of the 14 Wellington City councillors receives a base salary of $69,240 to serve a city of around 195,000 people or around 14,000 people per city councillor.”

“Although $80,000 may look like a pretty attractive salary to most Aucklanders, the issue here is that there does not seem to be any genuine consistency in the approach taken by the Remuneration Authority in relation to other elected representatives both at national and civic level.”

“The workload of a member of the new Auckland Council will be much more than a normal full time job, if they are to do the job any justice, and will include most weekends and evenings, attending meetings or holding constituency clinics, and meeting with local boards and ratepayers over their concerns, not to mention keeping the new council companies honest.”

“The fear is that once the everyday costs of serving a constituency of up to 80,000 people are factored in, the danger is that only those people of independent wealth will be able to afford to stand for election and do a decent job for their constituents,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said that in a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald, Remuneration Authority Chairman Michael Wintringham said that he would be taking advice from the Auckland Transition Agency and policy advisors in Wellington on the distribution of responsibilities between the Auckland Council and local boards and the balance between the Auckland Council and the Council Controlled Organisations.

“If this has indeed taken place, we need to question the adequacy of the advice the Authority received from the bureaucrats, because looking at the wage rates between the Mayor and the Councillors and the Local Boards, and comparing them with other cities and with local MPs, there is a definite lack of consistency,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams also said that Local Government Minister Rodney Hide’s declaration that the new pay scales had saved ratepayers $1.3 million was ridiculous when placed against the cost to ratepayers of setting up the super city, estimated by some to be approaching $300 million and climbing.