Joyce adamant on city transport giant

By Bernard Orsman

Transport Minister Steven Joyce. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Transport Minister Steven Joyce. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Government has no plans to shelve the mega-transport agency for the Super City, says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

But the minister says he plans to consult Auckland mayors and Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee on the initial directors for Auckland Transport.

Yesterday, Mr Joyce mounted a strong defence of Auckland Transport, which will spend $630 million of Aucklanders' rates but be removed from the democratic process.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett has called for transport to be placed in the hands of elected politicians. Mr Lee has called the proposal "obnoxious", saying it will weaken the Super City.

Manukau Mayor and Super City mayoral contender Len Brown yesterday said the Government needed to urgently rethink Auckland Transport, one of seven council-controlled organisations being set up to run more than 75 per cent of council services.

"We cannot have half of Auckland's rates going into an organisation which has little accountability to the region," said Mr Brown. "Ratepayers have a right to have a say in how that money is spent."

Mr Joyce hit back at calls to shelve the transport CCO. "There hasn't been anything so far which suggests that it is the wrong move overall because this is a delivery agency ... Auckland will need a good agency focused on delivering the projects that have been agreed by council.

"The council controls the funding, the council controls who the directors are, the council controls the regional land transport strategy and the council will control the annual statement of intent."

Under the Government's third and final Super City bill, Mr Joyce and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide will appoint the initial six unelected directors of Auckland Transport. The Auckland Council will be able to appoint an additional two councillors and the New Zealand Transport Agency can also appoint one non-voting director. Thereafter, the council will appoint the directors.

A scan of NZ Transport Agency agendas reveals most of its business is done behind closed doors. Under the bill, Auckland Transport will not be obliged to hold public meetings and the council is "prohibited" from exercising any transport functions unless delegated by Auckland Transport.

- NZ Herald

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