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Thursday, 7 May 2009

Minister calls for public input into Auckland governance

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide is calling for New Zealanders to contribute their views on the future of Auckland governance

through select committee hearings to be held in Auckland over the next few months.

“I know Aucklanders are passionate about their local communities and their region and we want to hear their views,” Mr Hide said today after a Cabinet meeting to decide the legislative programme for the Government’s proposed structure of Auckland local government.

“The proposed structure of one Auckland Council, with 12 members elected from wards and 8 at large, and 20 to 30 Local Boards, has been designed to ensure good governance for the Auckland region for the next 50 to 100 years,” Mr Hide said.

“As the Royal Commission on Auckland governance highlighted, the existing structures don’t work. The Commission said Auckland’s regional council and seven territorial authorities lacked the collective sense of purpose, constitutional ability, and momentum to address issues effectively for the overall good of Auckland.

“Our proposal will overcome these problems by allowing Auckland’s civic leaders to think regionally, plan strategically and act decisively in a way that has not happened for the past six decades.”
Mr Hide said the Government’s legislative programme for Auckland governance would consist of three separate Bills. The first two Bills will be introduced to Parliament next week and the third Bill will be introduced later in the year.
The first Bill will proceed under urgency and without Select Committee hearings. It will:

establish the Auckland Council as a legal entity;

establish the Auckland Governance Transition Agency (AGTA), responsible for rationalisation and transition to the new governance arrangements; and

constrain the decision-making powers of existing Auckland councils and their subsidiaries.

The second Bill will proceed through a Select Committee process ending in September. It will:

provide for the high level framework for the structure of the Auckland Council – eight members elected at large and 12 members from wards, and 20-30 Local Boards including their high level functions;

empower the Local Government Commission (LGC) to determine the boundaries of the wards of the Auckland Council and the Local Boards, and the Boards and their membership; and

provide for the integration of Auckland’s water infrastructure.

A third Bill will be introduced later this year to provide for the ongoing governance structure, functions, roles and powers of council and local boards, and detailed legislative framework for governance arrangements.

Mr Hide said he wanted people to contribute their views on the composition of the proposed Auckland Council, including the numbers of ward councillors and at large councillors which is currently eight and 12 respectively.
The Government also wants to hear people’s views on the roles of Local Boards. At present it is proposed that the Boards would:

act as an advocate for people in their area;

maintain an overview of services provided by the Auckland Council within their local area;

undertake responsibilities and duties delegated by the Auckland Council;

prepare an annual submission to the Auckland Council for expenditure within its local area;

have input into the regulatory policies and plans of Auckland Council;

have delegations for specific decisions, e.g. swimming pools and libraries;

develop their own policies and plans on some local matters, including dog control and liquor control and assist the Auckland Council to develop regional policies with local variations eg local parks; and recommend the making of local bylaws under the Local Government Act 2002.

“It’s important that people make their views known to the Government so we get the right structures in place to ensure good governance for the Auckland region well into the future, and also guarantee that local grassroots democracy is preserved and promoted for the benefit of all,” Mr Hide said.

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