Given the way the week ended for the Labour Party perhaps we can begin this one with some good news.

The Unitary Plan for Auckland is being overridden, at least in part, and that is a move to be acknowledged.

It should have been done several years ago.


A fascinating aside, is watching Auckland Mayor Phil Goff swallow the rat, and pretend it's all good news.

Imagine National rolling up to a left-leaning council telling them that all the work they have done regarding the plan is now in the bin - and they'll be taking over thank you very much.

It would be open warfare. But here we have Phil Twyford doing just that, and poor old Goff is putting on his best 'nothing to see here' face.

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The council's case probably wasn't helped, even if they were of a mind to fight, given the cock up over resource consents and all the people who now have to reapply given the council didn't do their job properly in the first place.

And that is the simple truth of councils, especially around land and housing. If there is one key thing that has held up the whole housing issue, it's the councils' attitude to land availability.

They hate making land available, and they have such a wall of red tape around it.

Ask any developer what it's like to deal with a council and then just stand back and soak up the expletives.


Even in his defence Goff was busy banging on about how many more consents they've issued, and yet failing to recognise the target is 15,000.

He's only doing 12,000: that isn't good enough, that isn't what we need.

And unless you're doing 15,000 then Twyford is coming knocking and he'll do it himself, which is the way it should have been from the start anyway.

Once housing became such a nightmare for the government, it was the government who needed to own it.

The councils around the country couldn't care less if it was hurting central government, so Wellington was taking a pasting from voters over a problem they could only jawbone, given they refused to get councils out of the way.

National should have owned it, they threatened Auckland but they lacked the gonads to act.


Twyford to his credit clearly doesn't hold the same fear.

And in that is another twist, the reason he's so gung ho is his 100,000 house promise is a myth, but he's not going to die wondering so he's need every bit of land he can get his hands on.

The simple truth is councils are handbrakes to progress. They're good for libraries and rubbish collection, but on the big stuff this is just a small country of four and a half million and we have far too many layers.

Too many health boards, too many community boards, too many mayors, too many committees.

Twyford, on this part of the grand plan anyway at least, will never regret getting a council the hell out of the way.