Sunday, April 13, 2008

Auckland local government?

It doesn't matter how you want to slice the Auckland local government cake - it is still cholesterol laden and tasteless. It's too big. Arguments about the best structure avoid the first point - what should local government do? Labour and the Greens believe it should have the power to do just about whatever it wishes, this means running businesses, supplying housing, regulating and planning as much as it can get away with. I believe that, at the most, it should provide a transitional role in defining property rights, administering public space and divesting itself of activities that could be done by the private sector and voluntarily.
What does National believe?
It could start by restricting local authorities to only being custodians of arms length commercially or cost recovery run water, sewage, stormwater, rubbish collection and public parks, with planning authority only to enforce private property rights. It could transfer roads to companies with adjacent property owners owning the shares and paying access fees. However, most of all local government needs to be limited. The current review of Auckland governance ignores this, and attributes blame for Auckland problems on the wrong arrangement of councils - when the real blame is the meddling of councils and their inability to carry out well some of the functions they are entrusted with. The poor turnout at local body elections show what little interest many people have in local government and how poorly representative it is of "the community".
So first decide what local government should or shouldn't do. What do YOU think? Would Auckland be worse off if Auckland Regional Council was abolished?

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