The Local Government Commission is holding a range of public meetings in Mahurangi this month, where residents will be encouraged to say how local government can be improved and what the risks and benefits are in making changes to Auckland Council. The Commission is also running a series of drop-in sessions and an online survey at lgc.govt.nz.
The consultation is part of the Commission’s assessment of the Northern Action Group’s (NAG) application to create an independent unitary council in North Rodney.
Commission lead advisor for Auckland and acting chief executive Rewi Henderson says it’s time for the community to have their say.
“We’ve heard a lot from NAG and Auckland Council,” Mr Henderson says. “Hopefully this will give people a chance to give voice to their thoughts on local government in the region.”
Northern Action Group chair Bill Townson has welcomed the announcement.
“This is a huge milestone for our community since being unilaterally forced into the Supercity back in 2010 and NAG strongly urges everyone, regardless of their viewpoint, to take the opportunity to express their view as we will be unlikely to get another opportunity in the foreseeable future.”
After consultation wraps up in November, the Commission will conduct further research, using independent contractors and consultants and a detailed economic analysis of any alternative options. It will then create a list of workable, “reasonably practicable” options for changing local government in Auckland. The list will include the status quo, do-nothing approach.
If the Commission believes a new structure would better serve the area, it will identify a preferred option and develop a draft proposal, which will go out to consultation. After considering feedback, the Commission can then issue a final proposal. A poll on the proposal can be triggered if 10 per cent of the affected electorate sign a petition, which in this case would be all of the Auckland region.
Overshadowing this process is a proposal to amend the Local Government Act, which could completely change the course of the assessment. Among proposed changes are amendments to require a poll be held on any major council reorganisation. It could also give the Commission greater power to decide whether to assess applications and bring the Commission under greater Government control.
Mr Henderson says the Commission has no involvement in the amendment Bill and is proceeding with the law as it stands. But, if the Commission has not issued a final decision when the new Act takes effect, the proposal will be assessed under the amended Act.
The Government hopes to pass the legislation by the end of the year, but there has been significant opposition to the proposal and many political pundits are predicting a back-down on the policy. At a post-Cabinet press conference this month, Prime Minister John Key told reporters it isn’t “buttoned down on the issue”.
Wellsford Community Centre, Tuesday September 20, 7pm
Shoesmith Hall, Warkworth, Wednesday September 21, 7pm
Matakana Cinemas, Monday September 26, 8pm
Snells Beach, Mahurangi East Community Centre, September 27, 12-1pm
Wellsford War Memorial Library, Tuesday September 20, 11am-4pm
Warkworth Library, Wednesday September 21, 11am-4pm
Matakana Cinemas, Monday September 26, 11am-4pm
A drawn out process
The Northern Action Group forms when the Government announces North Rodney will be amalgamated into the Auckland Supercity.
NAG presents a petition to Parliament with over 6000 signatures calling for North Rodney to be excluded from the Supercity.
NAG makes a formal application to the Local Government Commission to split from Auckland Council.
July: the Local Government Commission declines to assess NAG’s application, citing a lack of clarity around the proposed council, insufficient evidence of community support, and that the application was not in the public interest.
April: The High Court overturns the Commission’s decision after NAG appeals.
August: The Local Government Commission agrees to assess NAG’s application.
April: The Commission calls on alternative applications for local government in Auckland.
September: Consultation begins.