Eight out of 10 respondents' />
Business leaders have given a firm "get on with it" message to the Government to deliver the super city for Auckland.
Eight out of 10 respondents to the latest Herald Mood of the Boardroom survey believe the Government's proposed single council, made up of at-large and ward representatives and supported by 20 to 30 local boards is "on the right track" It is the clearest message yet that John Key's National-led administration has accurately judged the mood for change in Auckland governance among the wider business community.
Nearly 80 per cent oppose a referendum on the proposed structure ("they will get a referendum - the next general election!" said one energy sector CEO); and most - 93 per cent - want the new Auckland Council to focus on core services in line with the recommendations of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.
EMA (Northern) chief executive Alasdair Thompson, who has campaigned for years for a super city under a single authority, is heartened by business support for the proposed governance system in Auckland.
"It is exciting for Auckland if the Government gets it right."
"EMA was the leader in this. We ran two campaigns that led to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance being formed. We had a huge amount of evidence.
"We consulted 70 business and community organisations. We ran a couple of special websites and we gave them an opportunity to put their views on them and overwhelmingly people were for what has happened."
Thompson, a former mayor of Thames-Coromandel, said a single council provided the opportunity to lift local government productivity by quicker decision-making, greater efficiencies and a single rating system.
A small percentage disagreed with Local Government Minister Rodney Hide's approach.
"I think the Government made a huge mistake both politically and commercially by not going with the Royal Commission model in its entirety." said a fast-moving consumer goods boss. "It is bloody arrogant to have a panel study the issue full-time for 18 months and then to say you know better over the next two weeks."
There is also concern over the proposed number of local boards. The EMA's Thompson said the proposal was wrong. "There should be 16-22 local councils with real power but served by the one bureaucracy that will also serve the Auckland Council."
Grant Samuel's Michael Lorimer slammed the proposed boards as "little better than tea parties" - a view echoed by New Zealand Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr: "There is not enough of the local element in the boards. We would like to see them with rating powers."
A sharebroking boss disagreed.
He believed the council and mayor need more executive powers. "Local boards will be a nightmare."
Despite some misgivings about the Royal Commission report, Kerr said Business Roundtable was pleased with its direction and approach.
"One can be quite critical of the quality of the report but what it came up with was that there should be one unitary council for Auckland."
Kerr believed the Mood of the Boardroom survey reflected the broad views of the business community on Auckland local governance. "An important thing there is the support for the core functions."
He wants the power of general competence granted to councils under the 2002 Local Government Act to go, and councils removed from running commercial enterprises. "They should exit all commercial 'private good' activities."
But an agriculture sector chief warned the social issues are "of a scope that cannot be properly understood from Wellington" and needed to be addressed as part of an integrated strategy.
Deloitte New Zealand chief executive Murray Jack said the creation of a single Auckland Council would result in the successful integration of council activities and help create international events to drive local and international tourism.
"There is a real opportunity if you look at what is happening globally," he said. "As cities compete more and more with each other as destinations, Auckland has got to be no different. The prospects of being successful in that endeavour if you pool your resources are much greater."
He said ratepayers looked to the new structure to bring about efficiencies and hold or reduce rates.
"It is a tough job integrating a number of quite large businesses so doing that and maintaining services is quite a challenge. It will take a number of years to get the thing really going."
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said he would like to see a culture change in the new council that did not just focus on regulation.
"I don't think there is a council in Auckland that does not operate on the basis of being a regulator. Auckland has got to move away from this trap of being a regulator.
"The culture of local government is to engage itself in process but business sees an endpoint."
Barnett said the arrival of the super city was an opportunity to employ a world-class chief executive and develop a "compelling, coherent strategy" for the region.
"A vision, yes. A strategy, yes. But I want a leader who is an enabler who will make that sort of stuff happen."
He said the super city provided an opportunity for positive change because of the leadership put in place.
"People like me who have a long investment [in advocating the super city] know this is our best opportunity for something new to emerge."
He said the Chamber of Commerce would be looking for cost savings and efficiencies from the new council and progress on transport and roads.
Chief executives views on the new city's priorities diverge.
McConnell Group chief executive David McConnell (see sidebar) said the top priority should be infrastructure, in particular new and upgraded public roads.
Mark Unsworth, of Wellington-based public policy consultancy Saunders Unsworth, said unity should come first. Barfoot & Thompson's Peter Thompson agreed: "Instead of building egos, we need to get all the ratepayers settled and show the worth of one super city."
Thompson stressed it was important there were common rules for local government services such as building consents.
Others called for removing red tape, trimming bureaucracy and spending and cutting rates.
* Waterfront feature or sideshow?
Nearly two out of three business leaders support plans to develop Queens Wharf in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup as a cruise terminal and for "party central" but they are sharply divided (35 per cent in favour, 43 per cent against) over whether a waterfront agency should be appointed as recommended by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.
They are more amenable to an Auckland Council-controlled organisation driving waterfront developments (48 per cent for, 32 per cent against).
Two-thirds would also like a more considered approach taken to waterfront deZvelopment, including internationally rated design ideas to provide an enduring iconic infrastructure.
This view is shared by Matthew Cockram, chief executive of Britomart developer Cooper & Co, who welcomes the decision to develop Queens Wharf for the World Cup but warns about long-term spending on the project. "It is absolutely fine to be made suitable for the World Cup. It is a central asset in terms of the whole waterfront realm but to go into creating something for generations is a mistake," he says. "Clean it up, tidy it up and provide good shelter."
A tourism operator went further saying Auckland should just "move the port, create a world class convention centre and waterfront area to rival Sydney".
Cockram opposes the creation of a separate waterfront authority. "I don't think we need one. With one council all of this is dealt with together. The one-council approach is what we are doing it for." He says the most important thing is to get the super city up and running. Other issues were merely a "sideshow".