Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Auckland Death Star 2010

Depending on how apathetic the residents of Auckland are, today's announcement of the Auckland Super City may be John Key's first big mistake. Rodney Hide is not generally known for caution, yet his early determination to let the Royal Commission report sink in should have set a few alarm bells going for the Nats. Yet here they are, plowing on with a new Super City election next year. Which is a bit at odds with the correct deliberation that the Nats are taking with the Electoral Act consultation.

What they should have done was allowed another round of public consultation followed by a final proposal and a referendum with next year's local body election. It would have given time for working out the great complexity of merging the assets and democratic structures. As the ASB business segment on 3News tonight demonstrated, this task should not be underestimated. The massive uncertainty of how to integrate 7 different balance sheets justifiably left the suit with a WTF arched eyebrow.

Consider the merger of 8 water and waste water operations, all charging different levies. From the sounds of it, Watercare will automatically become a regional monopoly. Public assets will be subsumed and controlled by private management. And what about Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands, where many households have their own rain tank water supply? Do they cross-subsidise the others, or get a divvie for other peoples' assets? Idiot Savant is onto it.

There are very real grounds for anger on the democratic front, where the nodal councils recommended under the Royal Commission report have been abandoned in favour of the harmless, powerless, splintered realms of local boards. The retention of At Large Council seats will be another source of antagonism. If the Wellington region proposed an At Large voting system for councillors, they'd have another shitstorm on their hands. They learned their lesson last time they proposed that idea.

Then there's the weird shit point that residents have more representation on a national level through electorate MPs than at a local level under this Death Star Council. There's more Maori MPs in parliament than in the local Auckland Council:

This is not on. There's a better way of doing this. Once I've finished reading the Royal Commission Report, I'll post up my cunning alternative plan.