Councillor Cameron Brewer explains the ramifications.
Auckland Councillor for Orakei Cameron Brewer says he and seven other councillors are furious that Mayor Len Brown and his supporters today voted to hand over the final consideration of the Unitary Plan to the Auckland Development Committee, chaired by Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and including two unelected members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board.
“We wanted the Independent Hearings Panel’s (IHP) recommendations to go straight to the Governing Body for full and final consideration from 10 August. That is the expectation of the public, the intent of the legislation, and in fact what the IHP’s own website prescribes when it states ‘The Council (Governing Body) will consider the Panel’s recommendations and make decisions on whether to accept, accept in part or reject recommendations’.
To have it now go mainly through the Auckland Development Committee and then signed-off by the Governing Body is not only an inefficient process, but it’s completely undemocratic, and not befitting of the status of this hugely critical 50-year document, says Mr Brewer.
“Last week when it became clear that such a decision was already predetermined, a few of us demanded this issue of delegation be reported on at the full council’s monthly meeting. Well today, we debated it but staff, the mayor, and a majority of councillors were still pushing for it to go back to committee so the IMSB could have more input and the Deputy Mayor could keep control.
“Let’s not forget the IMSB has had significant input for four years. In fact most of its members are senior office holders of Maori trusts and Iwi authorities which have made submissions and the IMSB itself has made literally hundreds of submission points across the entire document. For them to now sit in judge and jury raises a number of issues.”
“Some in council should not have made big promises to the IMSB in the first place when the issue of delegation had still not been decided, and nor should the council have folded when the threats of legal action have been sounded in recent days.
“That issue aside, it should be the Mayor of Auckland who chairs these many days of critical discussion and decisions. The Deputy Mayor’s views on unitary plan are well entrenched and in recent weeks she’s been on a media campaign talking about her own solutions to Auckland’s housing and land supply issues.
“For the Mayor to simply hand this over to his loyal deputy as some kind of political legacy project to finish, and to enable him to ‘get out in the community’ is completely wrong. He was the only one elected at large. He should take the chair.
“The Unitary Plan Committee, the Independent Hearings Panel and the Auckland Development Committee’s work is over. It’s time for the Governing Body to take over the reins, but sadly no. It’s all very disappointing and sours the integrity of process going forward,” says Cameron Brewer.
The eight councillors who voted for the IHP’s recommendations to go straight to the Governing Body, but lost, were: Brewer, Fletcher, Krum, W Walker, Watson, Quax, Stewart, and Wood.
The IMSB is ridden with conflicts of interest, having made numerous submissions on the AUP to the IHP. Over the last two months councillors have been advised repeatedly about conflicts contaminating the final AUP outcome with the possibility of a judicial review. The councillors who voted for this were not able to mount one decent argument as to why the IMSB should be included in the final deliberations. The plan has been through two committees already with full participation by the IMSB. This decision is an affront to our democratic principles and will add unnecessary delays and costs, with the process now going to a committee and then will finally be debated by the GB.
For one or two councillors their speeches today amounted to a political suicide note.