The Morrison Low (ML) report on Auckland governance referred to by Mahurangi Matters in its previous issue is a sham. It is largely based on Auckland Council figures and thus imports many of their inefficiencies and extravagances, witnessed on a daily basis, into the costings of the options. It appears to have been orchestrated as a clumsy attempt to discredit any practical alternative to the status quo.
The proposed ML model for North Rodney, under the Local Government Commission’s (LGC) guidance, is not even close to the model proposed by the Northern Action Group (NAG), which is based on the highly successful Thames Coromandel (TCDC) model. This clearly shows not only a decrease in rates, 10 times lower debt and higher service delivery but, above all, a much higher level of community involvement in affairs that affect them through the devolved empowerment philosophy.
Their ‘Community Empowerment’ philosophy is one of the reasons TCDC is lean and efficient, and enjoys such a high level of community satisfaction. Unlike Auckland Council, which we all know is at the other end of the satisfaction scale.
Why wouldn’t anyone choose something as attractive as that? It’s an absolute no-brainer.
However, the LGC has refused to even look at such a model in its evaluation.
As far as we can tell, instead of being the independent, objective and impartial organisation required of them by legislation, LGC is working to ensure the failed not-so-super city is kept together at all costs to avoid embarrassing the government.
LGC’s actions to date do not pursue the stated objectives of the process, to achieve improved local governance through engaging with the community. They are much more aligned with pursuit of a political agenda. Submitters have been ignored or shut out of the evaluation of alternatives.
NAG prepared 11 pages of questions on the Morrison Low report and had hoped to get some answers at a meeting with LGC and ML on Friday August 4. That meeting was deliberately structured and truncated to prevent participants from contributing to the analysis. Consequently, the very few questions asked did not receive satisfactory answers.
We have now put these questions in writing to LGC, but with a very limited two week timeframe currently imposed by LGC for comments, we are not confident we will get all the answers in sufficient time to make use of them. ML maintains its data is proprietary and thus deny interested parties the opportunity to scrutinise them.
Needless to say, we have become totally sceptical that LGC will fairly and objectively evaluate alternatives to AC’s failed governance model in this reorganisation process. So we have decided to have our proposed model independently costed by a respected specialist in the field. This model (unlike the ML models) will be publicly and openly available for all to see and comment on or question.
We have also asked all the major political parties to commit to running our model against the status quo in an independent localised binding referenda.
That, at least, would be democratic.
So far, only New Zealand First has committed to such a referendum. We urge voters to keep that in mind when casting their vote in September’s election if they want to see truly democratic and community oriented future governance of North Rodney.
The process from here
The Local Government Commission is in the process of determining the “reasonably practicable options” for local government change in Auckland with a view to identifying the “preferred option”.
If the preferred option is the status quo, the process will come to a halt.
If the preferred option is not the status quo, the following steps will be taken:
1) The Commission will prepare a draft proposal describing the proposed new arrangements
2) It will consult on the draft proposal with the community
3) It may then decide to proceed to a final proposal
4) If there is a final proposal, the public can call for a poll. At this stage, the Commission is unable to speculate on whether that is a likely scenario or not.
5) If it decides not to proceed to a final proposal, the process comes to a halt.
The Commission has said since late last year that a decision on the preferred option would be available in the second half of this year.
At present, that remains the case. A spokesperson says the Commission can’t be more precise because a number of unpredictable factors can impact on this timeline.
Read the Morrison Low report here.