Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the Government is appointing the founding directors of an Auckland mega transport agency because existing councils would take too long agreeing on the best candidates.
"We'd have to put an electoral college together of the eight or nine existing councils - I lose count," he told the Northern Employers and Manufacturers' Association yesterday. "They would have to sit down for a little pow wow and come up with the starting board for Auckland Transport and we'd still be here in 2013."
Mr Joyce insisted that he and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide were appointing the initial board members for purely practical, rather than political, reasons.
"After November, when the new [Super City] council is in place, they could change the directors because they will have that control."
The minister was responding to calls by leaders including Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, Manukau Mayor Len Brown and Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett for transport to be placed more firmly in the hands of elected politicians.
Mr Joyce's assurance was accepted by employers and manufacturers' chief executive Alasdair Thompson, who said his organisation "just can't understand where our mayoral aspirants are coming from when they say no CCOs [council controlled organisations]".
He accused his fellow captain of business Mr Barnett of having "joined the fray" with the Super City political contenders.
Asked by the Herald why he could not allow the existing Auckland Regional Transport Authority to keep operating until the new Auckland Council was able to appoint its own directors, he said that would risk losing momentum in the vital transport realm.
"You've got to get on and do it, otherwise it will fall out of the rest of the structure."By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew