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Parliament passes Auckland super city bill

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rodney Hide
Rodney Hide

By Peter Wilson of NZPA

Wellington, June 3 NZPA - Parliament has passed the legislation that sets up Auckland's new super city council.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide hailed it as great for the city, saying Auckland's local governance had been a problem for more than a century.

"Michael Joseph Savage, back in 1919, called for a unification of the region's disparate and ineffective councils," he said during the third reading debate on the bill.

"The Royal Commission agreed and found the eight councils lacked a collective sense of purpose, constitutional ability and the momentum to operate effectively for the overall good of Auckland."

Mr Hide said services were poor and cost more than necessary, and councils couldn't agree on consistent standards and plans.

"But no more," he told Parliament.

"Today is the day Auckland ratepayers at long last get to win."

Mr Hide said the new unified council would be more effective, more accountable and would provide world class services.

"One council, one mayor, one vision for Auckland by November 1st 2010 -- a single vision under a single leader."

Labour opposed the bill.

The party's Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford, said the council set up was "every bit as bad as people feared and suspected a year ago".

The Government held its consultation process but it had not heard the pleas of the people, he said.

"It has insisted on going ahead with its corporatisation agenda which will consign three-quarters of the city's assets and operations to the control of hand-picked appointees," he said.

"It is fundamentally shifting accountability and control of civic life in Auckland out of the public domain and into the boardrooms -- and Aucklanders made it very clear they didn't want a bar of that."

Labour's local government spokesman, George Hawkins, criticised the Government for refusing to allow Maori representation on the new council.

"On November 1 people will see what will largely be an all-white council," he said.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira said there was talk of a Maori liaison role within the council but that meant making do with second best.

"Maori don't want to be dancing monkeys at anyone's table," he said.

"We will not support the use of a Maori liaison person or a Maori advisory board."

He said his party would continue to fight for Maori seats on the council.

The bill passed its third reading on a vote of 63 to 56 with National and ACT supporting it. Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party and the Progressive party opposed it.

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