Unelected boards of businesspeople will control at least 75 per cent, if not 90 per cent, of existing council business under the Auckland Super City, says Rodney District councillor Suzanne Weld.

She said plans for at least seven council-controlled organisations (CCOs) would be funded by Auckland ratepayers but have no accountability to them.

"This is a deliberate attempt to separate and compartmentalise ordinary council business and to keep the citizens of Auckland at arm's length from their assets and their facilities."

Ms Weld was speaking on the first day of hearings before a special Auckland governance select committee considering the Government's third and final piece of Super City legislation.

The scale and scope of council-controlled organisations is emerging as a hot issue in the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill, which contains much of the detail for the Super City.

The Government has provided for three council-controlled organisations - transport, water and a waterfront development agency - in legislation.

Four others have been recommended by the Auckland Transition Agency - the Government-appointed agency designing the Super City.

Apart from two councillors on Auckland Transport, the rest of the board members will be unelected. The first appointees will be overseen by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

The normal practice is for councils to establish council-controlled organisations after public consultation and appoint board members.

Another hot issue - the nuts and bolts of 19 local boards under the Super Auckland Council - has not been addressed in the third bill.

The transition agency will present a discussion paper on the powers and functions of the boards to the select committee in Auckland on Friday.

Allen Davies, with a combined total of 73 years as a council employee and politician, said the council-controlled organisations would be council-owned but "most decidedly" not council-controlled.

He said that by providing for council-controlled organisations in the third bill, the National Government was preparing to flog off Auckland assets.

Auckland regional councillor Brent Morrissey, deputy chairman of the transport and urban development committee, said the largest of the CCOs, Auckland Transport, would have access to 54 per cent of the rates collected in Auckland.

"The Auckland Council is responsible for striking and collecting that rate, but will have no ability to influence Transport Auckland at all in its regional transport programme."

Mr Morrissey likened Auckland Transport to "taxation without representation is tyranny", the slogan coined by Rev Jonathan Mayhew in a sermon in Boston in 1750.

Local government commentator David Thornton said: "Too much power is being concentrated in CCOs and ratepayers can't see how they can influence major spending decisions."

Several submitters were also concerned at provisions allowing CCOs not to publish agendas and minutes and to meet behind closed doors.

THE BIG SEVEN
Council-controlled organisations:
Auckland Transport *
Watercare Services Ltd *
Waterfront Development Agency *
Economic Development, Tourism and Events Agency
Property Holdings and Development
Major Regional Facilities
Council Investments

* Approved by Government and legislated for