"Rodney Hide has said the LGA will be amended and this will include a cap on Rates to inflation + population growth. That cap will get rid of these quangos overnight even if the power of general competence remains."
Blair Mulholland thinks that:
"The point of the reforms was not to reduce the size of local government, although it may yet do that. The point was not to reduce rates, although it may yet do that. The point was always to destroy the vice-like grip of socialists and busybodies over our fair region."
Blair essentially thinks that the political demographic of the supercity will lean towards the centre-right, which is nonsense. He says "The Left will lose out in such a contest, not because they have less money (as they will inevitably whine) but because they are simply less organised in Auckland."
Blair is naive. The ARC has been centre-left dominated since its inception, it resisted selling the Yellow Bus Company when National last reformed local government, so had to be forced to do so by legislation because it could not fairly be a subsidiser of public transport through competitive tendering, and compete with the private sector in those tenders. The proposals create a grand ARC. It will NOT stop the vice like grip of busybodies over Auckland - not by a long shot.
Nick's more interesting point that a cap on rates (well after inflation and population growth) will be an effective constraint also misses certain key points. Such a cap does NOT restrict the regulatory powers of local authorities, it does NOT restrict the powers of local authorities to borrow and start up public sector businesses. Given the growth of local government in recent years, it does nothing more than slow down future growth.
Like I said before, a supercity for Auckland does nothing to address the core question - what should be the role of local government?
New Zealand is NOT a federal constitutional democracy. Local government has powers purely because central government lets it. Local government currently has unlimited powers because the Labour/Alliance coalition, with Green party support, granted it such powers.
A rates cap should be introduced quickly as an interim step, but a fundamental review of the powers and purpose of local government is needed - now - before super unitary authorities are to be created.
I'd hedge a bet that as long as people are confident their footpaths and roads would be maintained, rubbish collected, water/sewage systems function, and private property rights are protected from encroachment or torts (e.g. nuisance), most would want nothing more from local government.
Moreover, I struggle to find a single useful activity local government undertakes that can't simply be user pays in one capacity or another, or isn't just a matter of delineation of what ought to be property rights.