Draft raises fears for democracy

By Bernard Orsman

Caring for grassroots democracy is down the pecking order in the draft management structure of the Auckland Super City, according to Manukau Mayor Len Brown and Mangere MP Su'a William Sio.

Mr Brown, a candidate for the Super City mayoralty, said the proposed structure was a mix of the good, the bad and the missing.

The agency designing the Super City released a draft three-tier management structure on Monday, including a small executive team of a chief executive and three officers. Under the executive are 25 managers.

Mr Brown said the Auckland Transition Agency's announcement that council staff at the coalface would generally keep their jobs provided clarity, but he was concerned about a lack of connection to the local boards and communities.

"I had hoped to see evidence of a much stronger link to democratic governance."

The structure has a manager of local board services in the third tier whose activities include local board management, local plans and community consultation.

Mr Sio, a Labour MP and former Manukau City councillor, said the management of local boards and Maori issues should be at the chief executive level, not the third tier.

The structure places a number of roles in the office of the chief executive, including managers for risk and assurance, communications and public affairs, civil defence, and human resources.

"Most modern organisations have Maori development at the top, otherwise it will be lost in the mix. It will be hard to see the third-tier manager being able to advocate and get attention at the top level for both Maori and local boards," Mr Sio said.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks said he was pleased there would not be a lot of dislocation in the short term for most staff when eight councils are rolled into the Super Auckland Council next year.

Mr Banks, another candidate for the mayoralty, said the draft structure vested a huge amount of powers in a few people.

"It's very important that the mayor and elected council are in charge and not the bureaucrats. It's going to take some very strong leadership from the council to make sure the will of the people is reflected in what the council undertakes," he said.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has called on the Government to make public a third bill for the Super City, which will set out much of the detail. Only then, he said, would council staff and ratepayers see the complete picture.

- NZ Herald

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