Two retired bureaucrats and a retired High Court judge have decided that 1.4 million people in the Auckland region need a super-bureaucracy to keep them properly in check.
That's the only conclusion I can draw from the Herald's suggestion this morning that the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance will assuredly be recommending a new "super" city council to "govern" the region and to meddle in "the social needs" of the region.
Just what we need. A new super-bureaucracy to make the existing uber-bureaucracies of the region look like friendly examples of small-government delight by comparision, and to give the super-bureaucrats a jet-fuelled rocket-propelled career path. 1.4 million people to boss around and whose "social needs" can be attended to. A dream job of meetings, memos and "super" action plans that will tell people where and how they can live, and what they'll be allowed to do if they beg correctly . A 140km strip of the country that the super-planners can dictate from their eyries, which will become even more untouchable and unaccountable than they are now.
A utopia for bossy boots busybodies of every stripe.
The nature of such a "super" city -- which will be truly super only in the size of both the city itself and of the egos of the people who will be clamouring to rule it -- can be gauged by how the smaller borough councils changed when they were forced to merge under Michael Bassett's force amalgamation of the eighties: from small agencies you could talk to, to larger bureaucracies who talked at you.
Ironically, last I read Bassett is not a supporter of the current "super" city idea (and I write this with only limited internet connectivity, so I'm unable to properly check that memory), but new Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide is. With boots on.
So if the Herald is correct, then, you can expect then to see small government advocate Rodney Hide announce in March that he will be giving his blessing to the largest new bureaucracy to be created in Australasia since Canberrs was constructed in the back of beyond.
Not the sort of legacy, I suspect, that Rodney's small-government voters thought they were voting for when they choser to throw their vote in his direction.
UPDATE: Owen McShane's 2007 column on this is worth a re-read: Super City - or Mega Flop?