'The transition agency has extraordinary pow' />
The powers of the agency designing Auckland's Super City are "draconian", says Green MP Sue Kedgley.
"The transition agency has extraordinary powers that I have never seen in legislation before," said the Greens' local government spokeswoman.
She was particularly concerned about a clause stating the agency had to provide information to the public only "as it sees fit".
The Government passed legislation under urgency setting up the Auckland Transition Agency, whose job will be to restructure the region's eight councils into a single entity.
It will be one of the largest mergers in New Zealand - and the Government wants it mostly wrapped up by October 31 next year when elections for the Super Auckland Council and 20 to 30 local boards take place.
The five-member agency has been given wide powers to undertake the huge and complex job involving 6300 staff and $28 billion of assets.
It has the power to review any council decision during the transition period that may "significantly prejudice the reorganisation", constrain the new Auckland Council or have a negative impact on assets and liabilities transferring to it.
What is more, it will approve council contracts worth more than $20,000 that run past June 2011, council borrowing beyond June 2011 and other council financial business.
Auckland City Deputy Mayor David Hay said that if the agency was not careful, councillors might as well go for a world trip until the next election and let the agency run the show.
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said the powers of the agency were strong, but they were needed to effect the transition.
"On the one hand we want to ensure the councils carry on business as usual, but within that business as usual we don't want them making decisions that compromise the new Auckland Council."
Mr Hide said he believed the agency would show common sense when reviewing council decisions because of the bigger job of the transition.
Asked about the agency releasing information to the public "as it sees fit", Mr Hide said the agency was subject to the Official Information Act.
He said the agency would need to build a rapport with the public, but he did not want to tell it how to do that.
The agency also has the job of appointing an interim chief executive to the Auckland Council up to the middle of 2012.
The interim chief executive has been given wide powers before he or she is accountable to the Auckland Council. These include the ability to hand-pick his or her executive team and enter into contracts, leases and other agreements "to enable the council to operate efficiently and effectively" from November 2010.
Meanwhile, Labour has called National's decision for Associate Local Government Minister John Carter to chair a special select committee on another bill examining the Super City an abuse of the process.
Labour's shadow Leader of the House, Darren Hughes, said it was completely inappropriate for Mr Carter to be involved in Cabinet committee discussions on the Government's Super City model and then chair a committee that was meant to subject the legislation to independent scrutiny.
Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee announced four other National MPs who would sit on the select committee - Tau Henare, Jackie Blue, Nikki Kaye and Simon Bridges.
Review any council decisions or items on council agendas.
Oversee council-controlled organisations.
Approve council contracts worth more than $20,000 that run past June 2011.
Approve council borrowing beyond June 2011.
Provide information to the public "as it sees fit".
Appoint interim chief executive to Super City.
Develop structure of Super City.