While Melissa Lee’s mouth was being firmly filled with her foot last night up in Mt Albert, down in Wellington your MPs were rushing through the first reading of legislation to enact NZ’s first fascist state in Auckland. “One voice for Auckland!” shouted Paula Bennett, trumpeting the`new non-representative Transitional Agency created last night to harness the will of 1.4 million people into “one plan” written for them by four political appointees. Ein volk, ein voice, ein big expensive politicised stuff up!
“One voice” might sound great if you’re a naive young thing, or it’s a voice with which you agree today, and whose profligacy you’d like to keep paying for forever. Not so great if you don’t. Not so great if you’re standing in the path of the uber-bulldozer. Not so great at all.
The huge expense in merging eight councils into one supreme uber-city authority has still yet be costed (but the cost of the Royal Commission’s amalgamation proposal was all of $240million) and the full cost of the new bureaucracy itself to the pockets and property rights of Auckland ratepayers will only be felt once the behemoth lumbers into life next year.
Nevertheless, as Owen McShane points out in his CRMS newsletter this week, even though the bill establishing the uber-state is yet to be rammed through completely (there are still two readings to go) the effects of the amalgamation are already being felt. Call it another example of “regime uncertainty”:
The Government's RMA Amendment Bill is intended to streamline and simplify the processing of applications for consents. And it may well do so. [Yeah right.]
However, there is little point in streamlining and simplifying the processing of such applications if no one is making any significant applications to their council.
I have spoken to many people who are involved in the development of land and property in the Auckland region and they are all reluctant to spend any money on preparing applications for major developments for the next few years because of the multitude of uncertainties they now face.
- When all the Auckland Councils disappear do their plans disappear too?
- How long will it take to replace these plans with the new One Plan?
- If the new staff of the Super City have to carry on with the six plans from the old cities how long will they take to get familiar with them.
- Will the ARC be merged into the Super City or will it be dissolved and replaced with an Environmental Protection Agency?
- When applicants finally get into the Environment Court what body of law, and whose body of law, will apply?
The Managing Director of a major land and property developer told me bluntly that the Auckland Region was "off the company's radar" for the next few years, and he would be directing his attention to Northland or the Bay of Plenty.
Another retired Managing Director of a major land development company wrote to me in these equally blunt words:Owen,
No subdivider in his right mind will be even contemplating any more developments in Auckland over the next 3 - 4 years.
The market is a bloodbath for section sales and subdividers. The Super-city will only make matters much worse.
Every subdivider I know has literally given up trying to fight all the ridiculous bureaucratic nonsense under RMA. ...
Rates will go sky-high under the Super-city. Everyone will be worse off except John Banks whose ego will get a great big boost when he is Lord Mayor.
It will be almost impossible to get anything done or approved. Resource consents for all but very large projects should be processed by the local community boards. Councillors from Papakura won't give a damn about Orewa, and vice versa.
I promise you, the Super-city will be one almighty, expensive shambles; very likely the downfall of the National Government.
Sadly, most of our existing city councils have performed so badly in recent years, they deserve to be abolished !!! ... The ARC has poked its nose into every little planning issue, instead of confining itself to regional matters. The ARC is now a great, unnecessary bureaucracy we could well do without. All the ARC ever does is impede progress.
The ideal size for a local council is circa 25,000 to 75,000 people or thereabouts. Throughout NZ and over the years, councils of that size have always given the best and most economical service. Between the head surveyor, head engineer and head planner, they know just about everything worth knowing, and can be personally accountable.
People more expert than I am in electoral politics tell me that if it comes to a Mayoral race between John Banks and Mike Lee (the current Chairman of the ARC), Mike Lee would win. The larger the council the more it tends to be Left/Green. The first Mayor of Super London was "Red Ken". Think about it.
It would seem that one of the first tasks of the Transition Agency will be to stop Councils from initiating new projects during the transition period.
So if the Councils stop their new projects, and the private sector starts no new projects, what sector drives the economic and job growth in the Auckland Region? Will the Super-City soon become "Dole County"?