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Final bill on Auckland governance released

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, May 24 NZPA - The final legislation covering the reform of Auckland's local governance has been released.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said it showed the Government had listened to ratepayers, but the Opposition says otherwise.

The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill was reported back by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee today.

Mr Hide said the bill showed the Government "is listening to community concerns and acting on them".

Among the committee's key recommendations were having the role of local boards more clearly defined and strengthened, and strengthening Auckland Council's control over council controlled organisations (CCO).

The Auckland Transition Agency will publish a list of local boards' baseline responsibilities, functions and funding before the October election. The boards would also be able to have five-12 members instead of the current four-nine range.

The Auckland Council would appoint the chair and deputy of each CCO, CCOs would have a public accountability policy and would be subject to the council's long-term strategic plans.

"I am very pleased with the result which has successfully addressed community concerns, boosted transparency and made some constructive changes -- which is exactly what New Zealand democracy is all about," Mr Hide said.

The third and final bill would complete the legislative framework for the Auckland governance reform and would go through Parliament in the next couple of weeks.

Labour MP Phil Twyford said the bill gave "no real power" to the local boards and failed to shift normal civic activity back to the council.

"The Government is imposing the CCOs on Auckland. Every other council in New Zealand gets to make its own decisions about what is corporatised and what is not; why not Auckland?"

The CCOs were going to be so big and powerful it would be difficult for the council and mayor to make them accountable, Mr Twyford said.

"This Government has ignored the majority of submitters who said they wanted to see the powers of local boards guaranteed in law."

Greens MP David Clendon said communities would feel "remote from the decision-making process" because the local boards would have no real capacity to influence decisions.

He said he was not convinced the CCOs would be transparent enough or accountable to the council.

"Mr Hide has chosen to ignore the many submitters who want democratically elected local politicians to have control over such entities."

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