Sunday, June 07, 2009

Open letter to the Jonkey...

I sent this to the Herald today. The chances of seeing it in print - very remote...


My thanks to the NZ Herald for keeping me in contact with the increasing debate on the ActSupercity.

What is becoming increasingly apparent are the real reasons - other than the "dysfunction of the Auckland Region" - the true reasons, the political justifications, for the amalgamations and the proposed political structure being put in place.

It is not just a matter of John Key's endorsement of John Banks as the leader of the supercity. I would have expected nothing less from the old boy school of political networking. One only has to think back to the time of the initial announcements, and the handfuls of butter being applied by Banks in favour of the scheme. In fact, Banks may well have been told (by his political mates) to back off somewhat in his over-enthusiastic and effusive praise; good things come to those who wait...

There is also the Spectre hiding in the darkest corners of Epsom; the political promises of successive local and governmental representatives to reduce the load of local taxes on their respective electorates. That shadow is well lit by a small report that appeared, not in the Herald but in the Eastern Courier, on Friday. That report summarises the Long Term Capital Plans impact on the borrowing levels of the seven Auckland Councils. For a ratepayer of Manukau City it makes for frightening reading. Potentially, the long term borrowing for each of the Councils is expected to roughly double in the next ten years from $1,219 per person (based on region-wide averages) at the end of this year to $2,665 in ten years. For clarity, that is based upon the current LTCCPs, the current population.

It is when you take each Council individually that the Spectre starts to take shape in that very dark corner. If the Supercity does not proceed, then as a citizen of Manukau City I can expect my "indebtedness" to increase from $670 to $1,360 (excluding the proposed water paradise). A person living in North Shore will face an increase from $1,600 to $2,590, Auckland City from $1,180 to $2,730.

The Supercity will in fact double my personal indebtedness at the end of those ten years from $1,360 to $2,665, about a four-fold increase on the present.

But it does not stop there. The management of the individual cities has varied considerably over the past 20 years since the last reorganisation. The consequences of those variations is now to be spread (like the butter) over people who had no part in the election, representation, formulation or imposition of those policies. Not once, in any of the Hidean Edicts and Keysian Principles, has there been any indication that the Supercity will be required to ringfence the costs, the liabilities, the assets, and the benefits, of the present individual authorities.

Yes, the Auckland region has been dysfunctional, in a wide range of activities and over a long period of time. What must be said is that the responsibility for a great deal of that dysfunction does not lie entirely with the individual authorities. Auckland's problems have not been helped by the interference and broken promises of successive Governments which seem to have been driven more by the Jafa Principle than by reason or sense.

Let's face it. If the Supercity had existed would there already be a (unneeded) motorway over Judges Bay? Would we yet have universal ticketing on public transport? Would the twin-tracking of the northwest rail already be in place? Would the extension of (light) rail to the airport be started? Would there be less congestion on the major arterials? I suspect that there would be very little if any difference from what has already been done and achieved.

What the perpetrators of this reorganisation must understand is that if the Supercity does not work, then the Auckland Region is not going to hand any solace to the National and Act parties for a long time to come.

The indications are, as I outlined at the beginning, are not hopeful.

Pass the butter, Marlon.

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