Core services plan to be delivered by stealth

Published: Tue 27 Oct 2009 01:17 PM
Core services plan to be delivered by stealth
The government’s apparent back-down on their audacious plan to restrict local government to core services will have little effect on Aucklanders with all core infrastructure and services under the ‘super city’ set to be handed over to unelected and unaccountable companies, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.
“The government has already decided that water services and transport will be given over to independent organisations run on a commercial basis, and we are now told that council community services such as parks, libraries, arts and culture and recreational facilities are headed down the same path,” Mayor Williams said.
“Coupled with the Local Government Minister’s plans to cap rates and force more commercialisation on local government, and his refusal to rule out privatisation, people will be left wondering exactly what their elected Councillors on the new Auckland Council will have direct control over, and will likely wake up one day to find that the Minister’s scorched-earth core services plan has been delivered through the back door,” Mayor Williams said.
Mayor Williams said that the purpose of council controlled organisations and independent authorities is to remove decision making from elected members and give it over to appointed boards with a commercial rather than a community focus.
“When I blew the whistle on Rodney Hide’s core services plans back in June it resulted in a storm of protest from local government leaders across the country, and to be fair to him, the Minister has been honest enough to admit he has been learning on the job with no real experience of the vital role of local government and little understanding of the value of programmes they are delivering to their local communities,” Mayor Williams said.
“Our own submission to government on the Auckland Council Bill detailed dozens of examples of the innovative approach to community services and programmes taken by North Shore City, and the idea that these vital services are to be bundled up in a neat package and handed over to a bunch of unelected board members beyond the reach of local communities is abhorrent to local representative democracy.”
“The Minister is already on public record saying that there is far too much consultation in local government and cites the need to “consult the public on some decisions – notably decisions to contract major council services to the private sector or to sell shares in a port or airport company” as an area where public consultation is particularly troublesome,” Mayor Williams said.
“Transport Minister Steven Joyce said in advocating for an independent transport authority to own and control Auckland ’s transport assets and services that this would provide “greater focus on transport issues and continuity of decision making than could be provided by the Auckland Council.” Clearly he has no trust in the new Mayor and Auckland Councillors before they are even elected to make the best decisions for Auckland , and it now appears our cherished community services are also to be taken out of the hands of the elected representatives of the people of greater Auckland as well.”
“Rodney Hide’s agenda is clear to anyone willing to take an objective look at the facts, read what he and other Ministers have actually said behind the spin, and join the dots. They have been captured by the vested interests and are on-track to impose a fully commercial model of governance on the people of greater Auckland by stealth, with the new Auckland Council relegated to rubber stamping arms-length company annual reports, and it’s the people and communities of greater Auckland who will be the biggest losers,” Mayor Williams said.

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