Amalgamation might have worked had Auckland elected a Mayor who understood the purposes of the Local Government Act, namely to be cost efficient and effective.
But Auckland did not elect such a Mayor. Consequently, the results have been the opposite of those intended by amalgamation with Auckland Council being neither cost efficient nor effective.
• Hiked rates by 8 percent in year 1.
• Increased debt by 30 percent in year 1
• Cost jobs and increased jobs.
• Meant fewer councillors.
• Brought powerless local boards.
• Set up a Maori board.
• Started local race-based spending.
• Involved iwi in building consents.
The answer for Auckland is to get rid of its profligate self-serving Mayor and elect one who understands the purposes of the Act, and who is self confident enough to give real power to local boards.
Similarly, the answer for Waiheke is to get rid of its self-serving and profligate members and elect a local board that understands how to work with Auckland Council to achieve cost efficient and effective outcomes that benefit the whole community.
Yes, Mayor Len Brown has emasculated all local boards in Auckland, but ironically of all the local boards in Auckland it is Waiheke and Great Barrier that receive more back in Council services than they pay in rates. For every $1 collected Waiheke receives $1.70 in return according to the Mayor when he visited Waiheke a couple of weeks ago.
For this reason, if for no other, any application by the Waiheke Local Board to the Local Government Commission for de-amalgamation will fail. The status quo favours amalgamation and the Commission’s members are all hand-picked for their pro-amalgamation stand.
Assessing amalgamation proposals in New Zealand is the responsibility of the Local Government Commission. Established in 1947, the Commission is an independent statutory body with three members appointed by the Minister of Local Government. The present Chairman is Basil Morrison, a former Mayor of the Hauraki District and President of Local Government New Zealand, who is also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.
So the upshot is that whilst I am against any amalgamations in the three regions mentioned I am also against de-amalgamation for Waiheke.
On Waiheke de-amalgamation is no more than a ploy by the Waiheke Local Board to divert attention away from their abysmal performance to date in losing the community $12 million of funding. This board is full of protest politicians of the left mentored by hard left Green Party list MP Denise Roche. They are supported in their political agenda by the Gulf (Green Taliban) News. They have chosen de-amalgamation as their ‘cause’ on which to campaign for re-election. It means they can get their rent-a-mob out on the streets proclaiming ‘independence’ for Waiheke as their rallying cry.
Just like their promise of a community swimming pool it will come to nothing. But on Waiheke the protest is the thing.