Friday, 11 April 2008

Supercity? Bigger not better

As Auckland councils have got bigger and bigger, they've become more and more authoritarian, and less and less interested in helping rather than hindering.  So why do advocates of a 'Super City' for Auckland expect anything different to come from a 'Super Council' led by a Lord Bloody Mayor?  Sure beats the hell out of me.

When in 1989 Minister of Local Government Michael Bloody Bassett merged the 700 small, humble, ramshackle councils around the country into 93 bigger, beefier bureaucracies, he told us it would lead to greater service, increased "efficiencies," and "increase the rating base for councils."  It's certainly done the latter, and a whole swathe of minor power-lusters have been made very happy by the bigger bully pulpits they were given by Bassett's misguided reforms. 

The most recent proposal to hit the table would put all of Auckland's 1.4 million people under the power of an egomaniac called a Lord Mayor.    That the proposal emerged from the office of Mayor John  Banks, who needs no further platforms on which to exercise his egomania is just another reason to be against such an idea.

Bigger councils have become more out of control since amalgamation, not less -- less responsive to the people who are their employers, bigger than ever bullies, and grasping consumers of ratepayers' wealth.   Far from giving more power to citizens, amalgamation has given us less, so why on earth an even bigger amalgamation would be A Good Thing for Aucklanders just leaves me bewildered. 

All the idea did for Londoners was to resuscitate the political career of Red Ken Livingston, and see them barred from driving in and out of their own city while picking up the tab for the city's spate of expensive monument building.  I don't think we want that happening here, do we?

Tell the commissioners currently considering the idea to bury it, forthwith.

1 comment:

  1. I might be wrong Peter, but it's not the size or name of the council, but how it is used. As I think Owen McShane points out, Local Government legislation in NZ lets councils define their business as whatever they feel it to be - a bit like "strategic asset."

    Although in the end there is no good reason for councils to exist, a good step would be limiting them to more "core" "services" like water and waste and town roads.


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