The following is the submission made on the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill by the Campbells Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association:
This submission addresses provision for volunteer community participation under the proposed Auckland law reform.
The proposed reform weakens “representative democracy” (the population represented by elected council/board members) and therefore needs to be balanced by an increase in “participative democracy” if it is not going to weaken overall democracy in Auckland.
The intent stated in the “Explanatory Note” General Policy statement that the “changes to the governance arrangements aim to create one Auckland, which has ….. greater community engagement” is applauded. The concern is that the Bill does not appear to adequately legislate for that. There are two specific areas of concern:
1. Removal of the majority of infrastructure management (some estimates suggest 90%) to council-controlled organisations (CCOs) without adequate legislation to ensure (not just allow for) local input to planning and implementation by legitimate local groups of residents/ratepayers is a concern.
There is both a real and perceived loss of ownership with the establishment of the CCOs. The potential for control to move further and further away from local input/influence is scary when it relates to basic provision of infrastructure like water and transport. Recent history provides adequate precedent that this is not idle fear when one reviews the track record with our national rail and telecommunications privatisation.
We submit that legislation should specifically prohibit the selling of Auckland infrastructure assets (without future law change) and particularly prohibit overseas ownership and control until such time as we contract out our armed forces to overseas control.
Legislation like clause 43 (1) “The Auckland Council must not exercise any transport-related power or function conferred on a local authority under any en-actment that this Act has conferred upon Auckland Transport” illustrates very negative legislation. It should be balanced by positive legislation forcing the CCOs to incorporate local desires in their plans so that they are kept “front of mind” by planners in those organisations.
Again we state that when “representative democracy” is removed (as it is with CCOs) “participative democracy” must be increased in order to retain an adequate level of democracy to remain a real democratic country and not an imaginary one.
2. There needs to be provision for Local Boards and Council to incorporate local desires/aspirations/ideas in their plans, where these have been developed by legitimate local groups representing, say, 20 or more local residents/ratepayers, when they are not “non-regulatory activity” and when they are not “provided by the Council within the local board area”. If the select committee members consider this to be a cuckoo-land proposal we would encourage them to study the prize-winning legislation (bylaws/modes of operation) applying in Porirua City (Council) and adapt it to the Auckland situation. Legislation should mandate three-way communication between local representative volunteer groups, local boards and CCO planners, where the local groups desire it on issues impacting the local area.
This bill is an opportunity for progressive legislation to empower local volunteers to achieve the “greater community engagement” stated in its aim. Our understanding of its present form is that it falls far short of that for most of the infrastructure impacting on residents.