Brian Rudman pleads for Democracy to be returned to Auckland in his column this week.
“We have John Key and Rodney Hide to thank for the scandal erupting over Maori representation on the Auckland Council.
In designing the super city, they were so busy appeasing their allies and supporters that they forgot to consider the bigger democratic picture. To satisfy his Maori Party allies, the Prime Minister was forced to incorporate some form of separate Maori representation into the governance structure. But Mr Key and the then-Minister of Local Government, Mr Hide, regarded elected "Maori" seats as a step too far.
The compromise is the existing mess of unelected appointees, voting alongside elected councillors and answerable to no one but a mysterious selection panel that like some exotic insect, is supposed to die once its reproductive task is done.”
But what's really needed is to take a blowtorch to this whole un-elected bad dream, and permit Auckland to return to its democratic roots.
At least organisations in the private sector stand to lose money if services suffer. The public sector has only democracy to keep it in touch with its customers, and democracy in Auckland's local government has been sidelined.
Aucklanders are now accustomed to controversies in which the elected mayor and council members do not know what is happening.
If you wonder how council members could not be aware of the implications of their decisions, you need to sit in on their meetings. They work under a theory of governance that says elected bodies are for setting broad policy and must leave the finer details of its application to staff.
Accordingly, council meetings are fed a diet of voluminous stodge written by planners and policy analysts who say nothing concrete. Local boards, set up to keep the council in touch with communities, are similarly fed and seldom heard.
If they look at Auckland, Hawkes Bay people will see a dysfunctional mayor, a Maori Board with no electorate, no mandate and no accountability with two members on every committee despite legislation which suggests that it's membership should be confined to committee dealing with natural and physical resourses.(sic)
Rudman is right. John Key and Rodney Hide got is into this mess to appease tribal interests. Hide is gone but Key remains and he must take responsibility, admit National has committed a great wrong and repeal the undemocratic tribal mess they have landed us in.
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