For good or ill, the future of the Auckland region is now a fait accompli. There are no great surprises by the royal commission. Shrewdly, they covered all the political bases.

They effectively leave intact the current cities and districts, albeit they are now demoted to city wards. The commissioners have probably neutralised any serious mutterings by letting Waitakere and Manukau keep their names. Rodney, Papakura and Franklin get carved up. North Shore was always going to lose its name, but it does get to gobble up the Hibiscus Coast. I'm sure some in the leafy suburbs in the isthmus will be annoyed at having to pronounce their new name Tamaki Makau Rua. But they'll get used to it.

Interestingly, each of the wards maintains almost the same numbers of elected councillors that they currently have. When you take into account the regional councillors' roles reverting to city councillors, the only layer taken out is the community boards with a few mayors.

The only organised secessionist opposition that could have caused headaches was going to come from the Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands. They not only keep their community boards, but have had their powers and autonomy extended. It was a smart move to give self-rule to the islanders. That should shut them up.

One of the creative initiatives was to set up a City Centre and Wharf community board with direct feed into the new council. We'll never hear the end of Heart of the City's Alex Swney now. But the CBD is a disgrace and a focused entity for the inner city will at last give the region a real city centre.

The commissioners would have us believe the amalgamation will save the ratepayers millions of dollars a year. Of course, it's all nonsense. They said that the last time they amalgamated the Auckland region's boroughs into the present arrangements. Despite asking, I haven't yet been given one example in the world where services have been maintained and rates have dropped after a local government restructure.

I notice there was little reference to what will happen to the current council workers.

But even the harshest critics accept that streamlining the region for the sake of transport and public utilities was well overdue and will now happen. But this will cost a lot of money. And that's where an agenda by some of our corporate and right-wing idealogues is fermenting away below the radar.

There is no doubt in my mind that under this Government a privatisation strategy will be rammed through if they think they can get away with it. Rodney Hide as Act leader didn't take the Local Government Minister's role because he had nothing else to do.

The public is already being softened up for the sale of the Ports of Auckland. You should have noticed by now the pattern of subtle press releases and opinion pieces being strategically placed in the media. When enough of us start thinking maybe it's not such a big deal that the port is sold so we can invest in beautifying the wharf and inner city area, then on the auctioneer's block it will go.

And once we've sold one asset, why stop there? Let's pay for transport and infrastructure by selling off the rest of our airport shares. Then what about the electricity shares? Then water? We've been here before, remember?

Of course, to execute a privatisation plan you have to have allies in the elected roles. That's where the royal commission recommendations help such an agenda. It has created a mayoral role that, quite frankly, has dictatorial powers backed by a council to which only the famous and wealthy can hope to be elected. The commissioners are naive when they claim that as there is a $70,000 limit on campaign spending, that enables ordinary citizens to have an equal opportunity to contest elections.

Ten councillors have to get elected by voters in more than 400,000 homes. Just dropping a letter in the mailbox will cost them their entire budget. They couldn't even put a stamp on it as that would put them back $200,000 - triple their allowable budget.
The reality of the commission recommendations is that only people with media profiles and large dollops of money will have a dog's show of winning. The commissioners are setting up an electoral system in Auckland that will produce powerful local politicians who need access to big money. They will have to be either independently wealthy or court those with big money.

And who has the money and the motivation to get certain people elected? I don't have to spell out how business opportunity and candidates needing campaign funds works do I?

But the most disturbing thing is that the new city will be run by a mayor with dictatorial powers. The role has its own fully staffed executive office. The new mayor even gets to appoint his or her deputy. He or she also gets to appoint powerful committee chairs that essentially act as the mayor's cabinet. The new mayor even proposes the budget. Does anyone expect any of the committee chairs will oppose it?

Patronage and loyalty go together in politics. The commission report provides very few checks and balances.

After years of political wrangling, the best our royal commissioners could come up with is that we need a Caesar to rule Auckland.