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Saturday, 22 March 2008


The Royal Commission has been set up by the government to inquire on, investigate and report on Auckland's governance. But we have no idea what will come out of it so all we get is hope heaped on hope heaped on hope. We hope our submissions will be noticed, we hope that if they are they will be among the Commission's recommendations, and we hope that the government will turn them into law. But even if it does, it then has to wind its way through the House, and we cannot see any change on the ground till after the local body elections at the end of 2010--which means 2011 at the earliest. Three long years of limbo.

The Local Government Commission is the independent, statutory authority that decides what local authorities we have and where their boundaries are. Its word is law, so by petitioning it we get certainty heaped on certainty heaped on certainty. We know for certain that its answer will be yes or no--'go east' or 'keep going west.' And we know exactly what we will get if we do go east, because the Reorganisation Proposal--which will soon be published--spells it out in detail. We also know who would be running things: we can call them and talk to them, we can go and meet them, we can look them up on the Internet. And we know that everything would be up and running next year--two years earlier than anything that might come out of the Royal Commission.

It is very interesting that the government chose to create a Royal Commission instead of following the procedure set down in law and using the Local Government Commission. The Local Government Commission has all the power and wherewithal needed to reorganise Auckland, and it operates under a fair, democratic, statutory system. The government can have no say in its process because it is independent, by law. But the Royal Commission just has the power to submit an expensive report. Only the government can make it into law.

With the Royal Commission we make submissions, we get a report, and the government decides what happens, in 2011. With the Local Government Commission we make a petition, we make submissions, and it decides what happens, in 2009).

With the Royal Commission we don't know what structure will rule our lives, nor do we know what people will rule them, either the elected or the employed. We cannot see what we will get. With the petition and the Local Government Commission we know both. The Reorganisation Proposal will detail the structure, and we can meet and talk to the people. What you see is what you get.

With the Royal Commission the democratic process is subject to government interference. With the Local Government Commission it is not. With the Royal Commission we only get pie in the Beehive sky. With the Local Government Commission we get a real pie off an open shelf.

The government chose to bestow on us a process in which it gets the final say, instead of a democratic process in which an independent authority gives it. Why?

With the Thames-Coromandel petition we can thumb our noses at the government and choose the Local Government Commission. We can make democracy prevail. Now.