The Government may keep Aucklanders in suspense for several weeks about the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance.
The Prime Minister, John Key, yesterday told the Herald the Government had not decided whether to publicly release the report immediately after receiving it or release it later with "our perspective".
The royal commission has until March 31 to report to the Government. Mr Key was speaking after a meeting with six of Auckland's eight local body leaders and their chief executives at the Auckland Town Hall where the "hot topic" was the commission.
The Prime Minister would not be drawn on a Herald report that expects the royal commission to recommend a super city council and election of a single mayor with executive powers.
"While I don't support the status quo, I'm not going to presuppose what the royal commission should suggest," he said.
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, who also attended the meeting, said he would be recommending to the Government that it sit on the report for a couple of weeks to work out a response. Aucklanders had been demanding change for years. Waiting a couple more weeks would not matter, he said.
Holding the report back would have the political effect of focusing on the Government's plans for Auckland and not the contents and merits of what is in the report.
The meeting was described as positive by central and local government leaders, although Mr Key, Mr Hide and Associate Local Government Minister John Carter were given food for thought from some quarters.
Manukau Mayor Len Brown, who supports a three-city model for Auckland, said Mr Hide had a strong focus on reform. Mr Key had a strong focus on economic development and Auckland performing better for the benefit of the wider country.
Mr Brown said he asked Mr Key how much better Auckland could do beyond the 35 per cent of gross domestic product Auckland contributed to the national economy - and did not get an answer.
"If the question needs to be answered, 'does Auckland need to be fixed for economic benefit, then what are our goals? What is our vision for the region if Auckland is to be united?'," Mr Brown said.
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams, who wants to keep the status quo at North Shore and strengthen the Auckland Regional Council, said politicians were spending too much time in Wellington and not enough time in Auckland to see the improvements taking place.
Mr Williams said he told Mr Key and Mr Hide that the proposal for a super city and community councils was "going back in time" to the 1970s and 1980s when Auckland had a regional authority and 27 borough councils.
"It is a backward step," he said.
Auckland City Mayor John Banks, a supporter of the super city model, said there was consensus round the table that Auckland was not working, governance had to be improved and infrastructure needed fixing.
Mr Banks, a former National Cabinet minister, said the Government was clearly going to engage with those challenges and noted Mr Key was in "change mode".
The Public Service Association has called for the royal commission report to be released as soon as possible to provide certainty for the 6300 staff (2400 of them PSA members) employed by the region's four city councils, three district councils and one regional council.