Featured post

ROCKY BAY NEVER WAS OMIHA

A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

Follow Waiheke Notes by email

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

ESCAPING FROM AUCKLAND'S RUINOUS DOMINATION

The only way to remove the constant problems caused by the Auckland City Council is to remove it from our lives. Self-rule, unfortunately, is impossible, because we don't have the population needed to apply to the Local Government Commission. Even with Great Barrier included we fall well short of the necessary 10,000.

The root of the problem is that the character of Auckland does not fit the character of the Gulf Islands. We march to the beat of a very different drum, so they keep treading on our toes. And that will continue till we have the numbers to saw through the bars and escape.

But we do fit our close neighbour, Thames-Coromandel. Therefore, with the ideal inattainable, the obvious interim move is to petition the LGC to transfer us to the Thames-Coromandel District Council, so that we can exchange a grossly mismatched community-of-interest for an excellent match. The Thames-Coromandel has 21,472 voters and Waiheke-Great Barrier 6524 (5875+649), so we would at last have strong say in how things happened on our patch. We would not be buried amongst 279,000 city voters. Local decisions could be made locally, as they should be.

Council matters would be serviced from our local service centres, and that plus the Internet and today's cheap toll-calls would mean that there would be little or no logistical disadvantage, especially given the fact that having a stronger voice relative to the whole would mean we should get virtual independence.

With Thames-Coromandel we would no longer be a flea on the backside of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

If we were to escape that way, the process would of course have to 100% democratic, which means it would have to have very strong support from the island (66% at least) before we could give it a shot. If we had that support we would work out a heads of agreement with Thames-Coromandel and its regional council so that we would know exactly what were getting into. Then the island would vote on that, and if there was strong support for it we would make a joint approach to the Local Government Commission. If they said yes, we would be free at last of all the problems caused by Auckland City.

For a start, no longer would $3 million of the $15 million collected in rates and charges be spent over in Auckland, so our rates and charges could reduced $3 million. Or we could leave it in for a year and build a swimming-pool, then slash it off.

If when moving to Thames-Coromandel we were also to negotiate a much fairer way of setting rates, we would have a comparative paradise. No more Auckland City Council, no crushing rates burden, and virtual autonomy. And the problem of driving low- and middle-income families and individuals off the island would be utterly eliminated.

We would also not be under threat from a 'mega-city', if it happened.

Negotiating with Thames-Coromandel and making an application to the Local Government Commission would obviously take time, so until then the best we could do would be to negotiate with Auckland City for a high degree of autonomy for our Community Board. But if only one board tried it it could not be from a position of strength, so I propose that as soon as possible after this election our board invites all Auckland's Community Boards here to arrive at a joint negotiating position, then deal with the Council en masse. Community Boards have a lot of autonomy in Christchurch. We should have it here, especially in the Hauraki Gulf Islands.