New Super Government Coordinated Role
So as the news about Paula Bennett wanting to do something else after being Minister for Social Development over the last six years I was thinking there might be a role that could come along (although not her as the respective Minister).
Transport Blog were looking at a Minister for Auckland or Minister for Cities both of which would be flawed and put us on an antagonistic path with the large rural sector. However, Transport Blog and Bennett did jolt my memory insofar as that Australia’s State Governments have a Minister of Planning. New South Wales, and Victoria are the two States we hear most often about with their Ministers of Planning as both States engage on multi billion dollar State and city building projects.
A quick at New South Wales Department of Planning and the Environment
The main website is illustrated below
In effect we would be merging our Ministries for The Environment, and Local Government into this Ministry of Planning role.
How it could be adapted to a New Zealand context:
In Australia the State Governments have a Minister of Planning which oversees, drives, and coordinates both Planning in itself but also the coordination with the Councils within their State in often large complex planning documents (think Unitary Plan) and large City or State building projects like the NSW multi billion West Connex (?) system which is a package of motorways and heavy rail connect West Sydney to the M1 that runs through Central Sydney and would form the equivalent of our Western Ring Route. NSW are also planning a new airport to the west of Sydney for which the West Connex system would connect to. Furthermore as there will be urban development along the West Connex between Sydney CBD and the new airport which is rural land, the Minister of Planning will be coordinating with the respective Councils to make sure the planning regime is in place to allow that development to happen.
So how does this work in Auckland?
The Minister of Planning would be the Minister who coordinates between the Ministers of Transport, Finance, MBIE (Joyce), Infrastructure (which would be assumed by the planning Minister anyhow), Education, Health, Environment (RMA), Local Government Minister (both Local Government, Environment would be merged into the Planning Ministry), Housing, Social Development, and the Council(s) when we embark on City Building exercises such as Auckland is now and will be with the Unitary Plan.
The MoP would be the final authority on the above and if required can over ride a Council and other Minister bar the Minister of Finance or the PM on “planning” issues.
So a Minister of Planning to answer Transport Blog’s question around a Minister for Cities as quoted below – but rather a Minister of Planning that caters for everyone – both urban and rural/provincial:
So, in summary, I am proposing that were John Key looking for something fresh, something that will deliver results, something that could define at least this term of his leadership if not something that could lift him up to the ranks of our greatest Prime Ministers, like King Dick Seddon, then adding Minister for Auckland, or perhaps even Minister for Urban Growth, or Minister for Cities, to his roles could be the stroke of genius he is looking for. Perhaps with Nikki Kaye as associate.
In practice this would then mean:
- Government working much more constructively with the Auckland Council and abandoning any petty obstruction that some less mature players on the right have towards it because of their dislike of Len Brown. Key is surely well above that.
- Championing the economic potential of our cities for the whole country. Showing that this does not come at the expense of the rest of the country and the primary sector in particular.
- Advancing the CRL expeditiously. After all; is there a better reading of those letters than: Centre Right Legacy?
- Recognising that the idea that efficient urban passenger transport is somehow left-wing is a curious and outdated local relic.
- Accepting the clear evidence that the top priority for the city in terms of transport infrastructure need is a full Rapid Transit System of a mixture of modes, like our CFN.
- Listening to all the evidence on urban form and housing affordability, and not just the lobbying of vested interests and the Demographia lobby who monotonically urge more sprawl, as there is so much evidence in favour of the economic efficiency of a more compact urban form leading to more international competitive cities.
- Taking seriously the opportunities that cities offer for improving our energy efficiency and environmental performance nationally.
This government has officially had a policy of being a ‘fast follower’ on climate change. In practice it has done little, fast or otherwise, and always claimed that the reason for this is that it won’t do anything to add cost to the primary produce sector. Well that doesn’t explain its failure to act in the urban areas, where transport, and especially personal transport, is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions. There is a great deal of opportunity to take on all fronts by listening to the desires of city people in the transport and housing sectors and one day some leader is going to take that opportunity. Could it be now? And could that be John Key?
Note: seems Transport Blogs and the Greens (see: https://www.greens.org.nz/news/press-releases/will-john-key-stop-delaying-auckland-city-rail-link) might be pushing it up the hill a bit with the City Rail Link still. See Targeted Rate for the City Rail Link? for more with a subsequent post coming up soon.
Time for a Minister of Planning like the Australian States? I think so.