Hide talks up super city
Mon, 30 Aug 2010 1:00p.m.
By Dan Satherley
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide used a speech at today's New Zealand Herald business luncheon to talk up the "radical" changes Auckland will be undergoing from November, as it comes under the governance of a single council.
Mr Hide thanked the Herald for its coverage of the super city issue, saying the paper should be "proud" of its coverage, whilst taking a light-hearted jab at his own party's recent headline-grabbing antics.
"I say this as someone who, along with my ACT colleagues, has been strenuously working to keep you supplied with news over the past few weeks," he said.
In addition to talking about the new Council-Controlled Organisations (CCOs), Mr Hide detailed specific changes that would come into effect next year.
From July 1, water prices across the Auckland region would be standardised at $1.30 per 1000 litres. Currently, each council charges a different amount, all above the new rate.
"Taking the current prices and the new GST rate, the good people of Orewa and Whangaparaoa were looking at paying $2.33 for 1000 litres," said Mr Hide. "That means they are being delivered a saving of more than a dollar per 1000 litres."
The only region that wouldn't see a significant saving is Manukau.
"The fortunate people of Manukau already pay the lowest price in the entire region so their saving is comparatively small, but a saving all the same," said Mr Hide.
He said the changes would see some families save around $225 a year.
Mr Hide focused on other areas of bureaucracy he claimed the new council would streamline, such as dog registration and building consents.
"There are 60 categories for registering, impounding, and adopting dogs," said Mr Hide. "There will now be half that number with charges dropped to the lowest levels."
He also said the number of different resource consent forms would be slashed from 850 to 120 "simplified" forms, that would be the same no matter where you went.
"[The new council] will streamline operations and reduce bureaucracy, through consistently delivered policies, lowered fees and costs, simplified paper work and improved customer service across the region."
Mr Hide finished by urging Aucklanders to "think long and hard about the sort of council they want and the person who will be mayor".
"When the mayor of the new city calls Wellington, the people who answer will know they are talking to someone who represents a full third of the people in New Zealand… The new city cannot afford a mere figurehead, but rather requires a mayor who will provide the unified leadership it has lacked for 100 years.
"We have been bold, decisive, and yes, radical."
Labour this morning attacked the new CCOs, which are headed by unelected, Government-appointed chairmen. MP Phil Twyford singled out Mark Ford, current head of the Auckland Transition Agency, in particular. Mr Ford will head the transport CCO.
"It is not right nor proper that one unelected bureaucrat - appointed from Wellington - who set up the super city and oversaw the appointments process for these boards, ends up getting perhaps the most powerful job."
Transport Minister Stephen Joyce welcomed Mr Ford's appointment.
The unelected CCO directors will be paid a total of $2.3 million a year, about $450,000 more than current elected Auckland Council politicians.
Mr Hide defended the decision, saying not only are all those appointed from Auckland, but their pay has been benchmarked against comparable organisations.
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