Super city's council Australasia's biggest

By Bernard Orsman

The Auckland City Council wants to create the biggest council in Australasia in the form of a super city for Auckland.

The existing councils would make way for a Greater Auckland Council with 29 councillors and a Greater Auckland Mayor elected at large.

Brisbane City Council is the largest council in Australasia with a population approaching one million. Greater Auckland has a population of 1.4 million with the prospect of two million people before 2040.

"The future calls for bold ideas," Mayor John Banks told the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance yesterday.

"We [the council] believe a single unitary council for the region is the bold idea New Zealand needs, that the future needs," he said.

Auckland City is the first council to propose scrapping the seven territorial councils and regional council for a super city. The Auckland Regional Council will present a similar submission at today's public hearings in central Auckland.

Survival plans by Manukau, Waitakere and North Shore city councils were criticised two weeks ago by commission chairman Peter Salmon, QC, for putting those councils' own interests ahead of the interests of Auckland.


At the local level, the council wants to replace community boards with neighbourhood councils made up of four elected members and a ward councillor.

The local councillor would have a constituency office and be able to tap into "neighbourhood advocates" on local issues.

There would be four area committees comprising six to eight councillors to consider issues not of a regional nature, but too big for neighbourhood councils. The upgrade of Newmarket town centre was given as an example.

Mr Banks said the model provided one council, one plan, one set of rules, one bureaucracy, one chief executive, one management team and one leadership for Auckland.

"A single unitary authority will represent all the people living in Auckland, provide legitimacy and authority to the region's voice and empower local authorities."

Mr Salmon said such as council would be the largest local authority in Australasia and large by world standards.

"How would you prevent the growth of bureaucracy and increasing costs associated with new layers of management and sub-management and sub-sub-management?"

Mr Banks said he believed amalgamation would lead to savings, while council chief executive David Rankin said the test was efficiency and value rather than size.

Bigger units could provide services like the council's 24/7 call centre and a higher level of specialisation and professionalism, he said.

Making a private submission later, councillor Graeme Easte said folding the governance of a third of the country into a single body run by a couple of dozen elected representatives was just nuts.

He slammed the council's fine words about local democracy, saying it had done its level best at every turn to deprive community boards of their powers and functions - a viewsupported by former councillorGreg McKeown in another submission.

The council baulked at a suggestion from commissioner David Shand for a commission to oversee the transition to a new governance structure for Auckland.

The council wants the transition board to comprise a proportionate representation of the eight councils, which would appoint the new chief executive who would start drawing up a greater plan for Auckland before the new council was elected.

Deputy Mayor David Hay said a similar model worked well during the last amalgamation of local government in 1989.

- NZ Herald

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