Auckland is at tipping point. It can either carry on with business as usual, trudging through the next few years and risk falling off the world stage, or it can address the current crisis of governance, rise above council in fighting and central government tensions, and turn the ship around.
Auckland isn't slowing down anytime soon, and 2021 will be a big year for our city with major events including Apec, the America's Cup, and the Women's Rugby World Cup. Wehave a real chance to prove that our city can compete with the best of them on the world stage. But will Auckland Council rise to the challenge? The track record could prove otherwise.
Tensions surrounding the recent stadium strategy and waterfront stadium report have boiledover, and any future decision-making for major events will undoubtedly be rife with conflict.
Throughout my time I never experienced the level of lingering dissent that has nowhit Albert Street. Even Len Brown's fiasco cannot compare to the toxicity and irreparable damage that has divided the current council table.
Them is alignment with the Government is only pushing the Council's stability further off-balance. Between Labour's Urban Development Authority creating uncertainty over council responsibilities, potentially overriding the Auckland Plan, and NZ First's half-baked plans for a national port strategy that would gutthe Ports of Auckland, it is clear that Wellington's voice on Auckland policy has expanded unchecked.
Now more than ever is the time for council's cogs to start turning with the right people pulling the levers. There are 21 people that sit around the council table, many of whom aren't held as accountable as they should be. That needs to change. I am ambitious for Auckland and believe we can pull off these events as a great host, but we need the right approaches to leadership that are as bold and ambitious as the city itself.
Everyone has their Christmas wishlist for our city, whether better infrastructure, or a new stadium, but there's only one thing that truly matters right now.
Unless Council cansort out its gaping hole in governance, we will be waking up to an empty Santa sack come 2021.
Denise Lee - National spokesperson for Local Government (Auckland).
Delivering the city Aucklanders want
The spotlight of the world's stage will be on Auckland in 2021. We want that light to shine on Auckland's best attributes and enhance our reputation.
In addition to the obvious infrastructure investment, I see Council needing to focus on three things to achieve success.
First, we need to invest to deliver a city that Aucklanders want and will continue to work for them well after 2021. We've done this well in the past— the Viaduct Basin, for example — but there are overseas examples of investments which have become white elephants after 'the event'… let's learn from that.
Second, we must work to deliver a clean, green and safe Auckland that highlights our cultural identity. Our clean, green image needs significant investment to truly show our point of difference. To swim in our beaches, have no over flows into our harbours, accessible-to-all litter-free well-lit parks and public spaces and infrastructure that uses environmental designs to better deliver outcomes should be the norm.
We need to be proven to be safe, especially inlight of the Grace Millane case and its international exposure.
Hard work is required to deliver a safe Auckland; safe transport, CCTV in key locations (an Apec requirement) complemented by a justice system that comes down hard on offenders.
Third, we need to work better with central Government both as a team and financially, acknowledging that its Auckland Council that governs Auckland. We have yet to have central Government ministers meet all councillors and the mayor this term. To date, discussions have been between a select few.
The views of that few are not necessarily shared by the majority. We need to ensure Aucklanders' priorities are heard too; is lightrail down Dominion Road more important than water quality?
The central Government/Auckland Council partnership is hugely beneficial to Auckland, but we need to set clear financial guidelines.
Significant budget overruns forlarge projects must stop. Aucklanders are losing confidence and we need to regain it with transparency, accountability, and evidence that we can stick to agreed budgets.
At the end of the day, Council must not be afraid to say no. We arenot an eftpos machine. We are accountable for every dollar we spend.
We need to deliver value for money for all Auckland communities and residents.
Desley Simpson - Auckland Councillor representing the Orakei Ward.