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Auckland Super City Decisions Could Be Made In One Week: Key

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, March 30 NZPA - Decisions about whether a super council should rule over Auckland could be taken as early as next Monday, Prime Minister John Key said today.

The Royal Commission into Auckland Governance report was released on Friday by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

It called for a single, region-wide unitary authority to replace Auckland's array of councils and community boards.

The commission proposed the dissolution of the Auckland Regional Council and all seven territorial authorities in the city, instead opting for a single unitary authority called the Auckland Council.

Localised democracy would continue through six elected local councils working within the Auckland Council community, and community boards would no longer be required, apart from on Great Barrier and Waiheke islands.

The new council would have 23 councillors. Ten would be elected regionally by all Aucklanders, eight in four urban wards, and two in two rural wards.

Mr Key said the report had generated a high amount of community debate and excitement.

"The focus is now on analysing all the detail in the report and being clear about the best way to move forward if changes are to be made," Mr Key said.

Officials were working urgently on advice to ministers.

"We hope to be able to take decisions at the next Cabinet meeting on April 6 and to make announcements shortly after that," Mr Key said.

"We are working on this is a matter of priority because preparations need to be under way within weeks if the Auckland region is to be operating under a new governance structure in time for the local body elections in 2010."

It was important to get the structure right as it would affect the prosperity of Auckland for the next 50 to 100 years.

Mr Key said he would be meeting the commissioners - retired High Court judge Peter Salmon QC, former public servant Dame Margaret Bazley and David Shand - tomorrow to discuss the report.

When asked if the Government was going to proceed with a single council because of the speed of the decision, Mr Key said journalists "should not jump to conclusions."

There had been an exhaustive process involving millions of dollars and thousands of submissions to find a more appropriate governance structure for Auckland.

If that was to be in place by 2010, then the Government had a duty to act quickly, Mr Key said.

The commission also called for the election of two councillors by voters on the Maori electoral role, and one appointed by mana whenua.

When asked about this issue, Mr Key said he was not yet prepared to dissect individual aspects of the report.

An executive summary of the 800-page report investigating Auckland's governance future found many issues obstructing progress in the city.

It said Auckland's regional council and territorial authorities lacked a collective sense of purpose, constitutional ability and momentum to address issues effectively for the overall good of the region.

Disputes between councils over infrastructure and development were regular and Auckland was dislocated from the rest of the country and should be contributing more nationally.

In terms of a leader, the report said the city needed an "inspirational leader, inclusive in approach and decisive in action who could articulate and deliver on a shared vision".

The mayor would have greater executive powers than provided under the Local Government Act 2002.

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