Thursday, April 02, 2009

What I fear about One Auckland

At Not PC Owen McShane characterises the proposal for a single megacity for Auckland as fascist.

Now, while this risks derision by the mere use of the word fascist, it is worth noting only the differences between TRUE fascism and what is being described for Auckland.

Yes, you will be able to leave Auckland, you will be able to criticise the megacity with the same free speech rights as now, you wont face more censorship, you wont be conscripted into an army to invade Ethiopia.

However, you will face more co-ordinated attacks on your private property rights, you might face the megacity regulating your business, or even competing with you. The megacity will have a substantial budget for propaganda publicity, and with one grand plan you'll know what is expected of you, your land use decisions and your property in the future. You are likely to face ever growing demands for money from your pocket, through rates. A megacity after all can increase rates by a small amount and get so much from it. Besides, few of you objected with relatively large ARC rates increases, so that can continue right?

A megacity will dilute your influence. By this I don't mean that there should be more democracy. That will simply mean those with the greatest lobbying strength (either by numbers or money) will use a megacity to regulate, tax and subsidise as they see fit. The left fears this ends up being business, the right fears it ends up being leftwing activist groups - both are right - Auckland does not need governance by lobbyist.

However, what will happen is just that. Loud lobbyists will work full time to lobby a megacity, and a megacity will have an army of planners out to ensure land use, transport use, energy use and indeed almost all aspects of day to day life are monitored and regulated if they can be legally empowered to do so.

In fact, I expect one of the first things a megacity will ask for is a review of local authority regulatory powers and tax raising powers, which were not substantially changed in the 2002 Local Government Act. The megacity will complain it isn't sufficiently empowered (to have power over you), or can't make you pay enough for it to do what it want otherwise known as raise revenue.

Auckland is over governed as it is.

The Royal Commission on Auckland report should be treated as follows by the government:

- Thank you, very interesting;
- Raises some important issues about current problems with local government in Auckland;
- Royal Commission operated under a mandate determined by the previous government so did not address some fundamental issues about the role of local government that this government has;
- We believe there are more fundamental issues to the performance of Auckland based on local authorities going far beyond certain core principles that should limit want councils do;
- As such we will be undertaking a more fundamental review of local government across the country, and will take into account Auckland as part of that review;
- (Thanks for the doorstop, the Royal Commission on Social Policy documents were getting a bit yellow).

Time to consider what the hell local government ought to be doing.

Time for those who say "not very much" to make their voices heard loud and clear, before the Nat/Act/Maori/Dunne government takes what Labour has done on local government (give it an almost unlimited mandate), and make it much much worse.

Otherwise, Rodney Hide's position as Minister of Local Government will have been for nothing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What, amalgamating municipalities risks raising fascism?

Well, that's about the level of reasoning I've come to expect from libertarians. 0.05% of votes is about what it deserves.