What is Auckland Council's mandate?

According to the royal commission on Auckland governance, amalgamation would provide better services through well co-ordinated resources that, with economies of scale, would reduce the cost of those services or provide more services with the same resources.

If that was not the aim, why amalgamate?

What's happened is the opposite. There have been only minor improvements in outlying places like Orewa and no major "works" since the birth of the Super City. But council staff levels and the associated wage and salary bill have burgeoned. Now we are told services and projects are to be slashed.


A classic example of the absence of sense and logic is that we can't afford to upgrade public facilities, yet are seeking people to go on an "advisory panel for art in public places".

This will no doubt need a gaggle of admin people to run it and ratepayers will pay for it. We voted for a mayor and councillors - not a bunch of ring-ins - to make decisions for Auckland.

The Mayor has painted himself into a corner by taking the populist route and saying he would hold rates. A small rise in rates overall would solve some of the fiscal problems. But before that is even considered the council needs to drastically clean its own house. In other words significantly reduce costs such as the $720 million a year on staff.

The council can cut services, increase rates, increase borrowing, increase legislative compliance costs, sell property, reduce staff and salaries or improve organisational effectiveness.

Only the first of those choices seems to be favoured. It's the soft option. The lack of imagination is astounding.

We are legally obliged to pay our rates, yet there is no measure of council effectiveness and efficiency, let alone whether we get value for our money.

The Super City has led to a weird structure in which the Mayor and 20 elected councillors have to joust with seven council-controlled organisations over which they seem to have little control, and a phalanx of unelected bureaucrats. It's highly questionable democracy.

District councils were a manageable size. They were locally aware, and so far more effective in their communities than the Super City monster. This amalgamation twaddle was foisted upon us without any checks and balances to measures its success.


Hopefully one day we shall return to an appropriate governance model that publishes its aims, targets, results and failures, then ratepayers can judge performance and vote accordingly.

Meantime the very least that needs to be done is to implement item 32G of the royal commission's report on Auckland governance, which recommended a statutory position of an independent Auckland services performance auditor to ensure the council is providing high-quality services in a cost-effective way.

A lot of Aucklanders are very browned off.

John Clements is a retired pilot from Orewa.