VOAKL Takes a Look Forward to the 2013 Local Government Elections and Why I give a Damn about Auckland.
In October 2013, we get to go to the polls to elect our: Mayor, Councillors, Local Board members, and a few others such as District Health Boards and maybe the odd Trust floating around. For Auckland that means voting in our second Super City Mayor and Council after the establishment of Auckland Council in 2009. The “terms” in which the 2013 election will be fought will be probably nothing short of an utter bloodbath with five potential major issues that will shape the campaign:
- Rates – will the 10% proposed rate rises in some area’s fly while others (myself included) get a Rates reduction. Is there smarter ways to raise revenue for Auckland, and can we avoid $8.4 BILLION of debt that would mean ratepayers would be forking out $504-odd-million in debt interest payments (some 25% of one’s rates) in the year 2021.
- Port of Auckland. With the Left members of Council about to lob a nuke on the 16th and really make the mayor look silly (although done right and the mayor will really come out with integrity intact and look like a statesman) and the Maritime Union continuing its immolation of itself, Aucklander‘s will side with either one that is Pro-MUNZ; or one that is not so Pro-MUNZ, has the respect of the word of law, is pragmatic, and some sense of intelligence on what they can or can not do as an elected official of Auckland. With Port of Auckland, there will be debate and some blood letting around the port in its current location and whether it expands in its current spot of gets the literal heave-ho to another spot in Auckland.
- The City Rail Link. Some say $2.4 billion and completed by 2021, I say $3.6b and completed by 2025-2032. The CRL will act as a lightning rod on large scale projects and whether huge amounts of capital (that would ultimately borrowed) should be on rail, roads or buses.
- Rates, Roads and Rubbish. I have been trotting the battle cry of the centre-right Citizens and Ratepayers group (CnR) as some are alarmed at the incoming rates rises. With the Minister of Local Government, Dr Nick Smith about to launch some “reforms” on Local Government, I have been rather noisy on getting savings on ratings if the Local Government Act 2002 was thrown out and a new piece of legislation was put in place that reflected more on core council operations. The catch is one has to define “core operations” first – for example if we removed the “Social” aspect from Council, then $5.5b from the Lifestyle and Cultural “division” would be saved from the Council budget. So there could be very well at battle here – but it needs to be done properly otherwise just focusing on capping rates without dumping the legislation that causes the original issue is rather dumb.
- The Auckland Draft Plan and The Draft Long Term Plan. Both set out Auckland for the next while with the LTP setting out council revenue (rates) and expenditure over the next ten years. Now both plans have been (or currently are) through the submission process with the public, businesses and interest groups having a say (I did that was for sure). The Council is about to finalise and set these two plans into motion to which will influence or dictate what happens to the city over a period of time. However 2013 could be seen as a ratification exercise to both sets of plans and whether Auckland accepts or rejects them. How so? I was advised that The Auckland Plan can be altered on the election of a new council and that the LTP can modified through the introduction of the Long Term Plan 2015-2025 by the new council as well. So if there is major opposition to the Auckland and Long Term Plan (2012-2022) a new council could under take a rewriting exercise.
So those five outlooks could be what the Auckland Council election fought on and who gets elected depending on the mood (and intelligence) of Auckland voters. Who would be mayor and the make up of councillors from 2013 – I would say despite the Left’s immolation, Len would be in for a second term with a centre-right/centre dominated council – in other words the Left gets decimated hard. Numbers wise I would say out of 20 councillors 7 would be CnR, 5 from Labour/Greens and 8 independents plus Len as mayor. And if those numbers became actual in 2013 – that would make it a very interesting Council for the next three years.
So Why Do I Give a Damn About Auckland
Because Auckland is my home, always has been and she always will be – through the good, bad and down right ugly. I have been in Australia previous for two years working but always found Auckland was home. Also through my upbringing I have been taught to look out for others before you and that The Best of Both Worlds will often be the best solution to a tricky problem with “the sides” entrenched in their bunkers and not willing to move. I am an idealist but that is tempered by my realism side as well (The CRL is proof of that) and have a knack of running head long into a crisis when others run the other way. And with that running headlong into a crisis comes leadership, diplomacy, courage and determination to stick it out often with the troops and see through the crisis to its end.
I have been keeping a tabs on politics since I was small and remember the 1993 MMP referendum, The Employment Contracts Act 1991, National’s dark days from 1998-2004 and through later years the Clark regime that led to the Key regime from 2008 (oh by the way I am 27 in May). City, urban and transport planning wise, been doing that since I could play Simcity 2000 way back in the 90s (and continued to do so through to SC4 and soon SC5 (2013). So through politics and Sim City my interest in those realms has always been high – and now translated into literal form as I actively lobby and participate in politics. Starting with being a Nat since 2003 to my very first submission on Auckland, I care about this city my home and therefore participate in the processes that have the potential to make this city a better place. My About page has a little bit more about me.
So I started View of Auckland – my own blog after some inspiration from a few other blogs (you can find those on the right hand side in the Blogroll). VOAKL is my portal in voicing my opinion on Auckland issues and often putting forward alternatives to what is out there. VOAKL builds on work I do when I write submissions to Council (or central government) or runs commentary on topical issues of the day. While I voice opinions and alternatives at other blogs, VOAKL is my home and voice on issues that affect Aucklanders. VOAKL gives an insight to why I give a damn about Auckland.
So then do I put my money where my mouth is?
I care about this city and want to see if grow and do well, I also lobby and put in submissions to Auckland Council in doing my part in participating in democracy to make Auckland a better place. But do I put money where my mouth is and go that one step further? Should I have a crack at local politics itself and try to work things from the inside OR continue to work things from the outside via lobbying and submissions?
All questions that need to thought over very carefully before ANY decision is made next year.
But always – I give a damn about this city and is the reason why I do what do – in my part in making Auckland a better place for all