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Concern Grows Over Use Of CCOs Under Super City

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sue Kedgley
Sue Kedgley

Wellington, March 16 NZPA - Concern is mounting over the intended use of council-controlled organisations (CCOs) to manage the bulk of Auckland's assets under the new super city structure.

CCOs are already used in Auckland, but the Government intends using seven of them, run by unelected officials, to take charge of major services under the new structure.

Green Party local government spokeswoman Sue Kedgley said it should be left up to the newly-elected council to decide whether it would set up any CCOs and who should be on any boards, should they be used.

"Every other council in New Zealand determines whether it wants CCOs or not, not the central government. Auckland should have the same democratic rights as every other council," she said.

Ms Kedgley said the Greens wanted the Government to remove the creation of CCOs from the third super city bill going through Parliament because of the growing opposition.

That opposition has also come from Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule, who said in a letter to local mayors that the logic behind the proposal was "unfathomable".

He praised a campaign being run by the New Zealand Herald challenging the proposals, which could hand a huge proportion of Auckland's assets "to the hands of a few" and stifle democracy.

It was concerning that powers of the elected mayor could be diminished by such a structure.

Green Party super city spokesman David Clendon said if Local Government Minister Rodney Hide didn't listen to concerns, the party would propose amendments to the bill.

Prime Minister John Key said today that CCOs had been in operation across Auckland for a long time and he had no problem with the structure.

The third bill still needed to be passed and the Government was open to "taking soundings" on it, but the core basis of CCOs operating in large areas like the waterfront and transport would be put in place, Mr Key said.

He has previously said the council had the power to remove the chairman and directors of CCOs if necessary.

Mr Hide told Parliament democracy was not threatened by the CCOs.

"Council-controlled organisations are service delivery mechanisms. Council-controlled organisations already exist under the local government framework, and many councils use that method of service delivery," Mr Hide said.

"For example, the Wellington City Council has nine council-controlled organisations managing water supply, stormwater, the waterfront, and the stadium, as well as the city's economic and tourism development.

"Council-controlled organisations are controlled by councils; that is what the name means, and that is what the Local Government Act 2002 provides for."

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira questioned whether Maori views would be represented on the council. Mr Hide said they would.

"If the member had attended the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the third bill, he would understand how they would operate, and, indeed, would be encouraging Maori to stand for the local boards and for the Auckland Council."

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