Wednesday, 16 April, 2014 – 14:40
By Cameron Brewer, Auckland Councillor
The second term Auckland Council is proving to be an interesting one and very different to the inaugural 2010 – 2013 Governing Body.
We are currently going through a budget round to lock in where council’s $3b expenditure is directed for the forthcoming 2014/15 financial year.
This year we had fewer than 2,000 written submissions from the public on our Draft Annual Plan with only a few dozen turning up to speak to their submissions. The Mayor takes this as a vote of confidence in the council, but I take a different view.
My view is that the public interest in this council is at an all-time low because Aucklanders are increasingly of the view that this term is a bit of a lost cause, a bit of a political basket case. The Mayor has hung on to his political career but has lost a lot of political capital. Whatever your view on that, this is bad for Auckland.
Todd Niall and myself have already commented on the low Annual Plan submission count and why it was that low. You can see my own commentary behind to low submission count (which includes extract’s from Todd’s analysis) here: “Todd Niall Hits the Budget Nail on its Head.”
From that commentary piece:
To be honest I can see why both the Annual Plan submission count is very low and how most submissions were pertaining to local rather than regional issues. For the low submission count the Annual Plan submissions were called for during the final weeks of the massive Unitary Plan submission period. With limited time and resources available a conscious call might have been made on which of the two submissions you would pick to get done. Is it the Annual Plan or is it the Unitary Plan? I made such a conscious decision and chose the Unitary Plan over the Annual Plan to dedicate my submission time to – so as a result no submission from me on the Annual Plan this round.
What also factored into not doing an Annual Plan submission this round was the knowledge knowing the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (the main Council budget document) is coming up for debate soon. Something again Todd Niall points out…
Maybe that’s why Aucklanders have turned out in such low numbers to have their say on this year’s annual plan. They know that far bigger debates lie ahead.
Again I would say that is why the submission count is low not because we have lost interest but rather we had the Unitary Plan at the same time as well as knowing those bigger more important debates ahead (like the Long Term Plan).
The Unitary Plan submission count (at 8,900 as of the beginning of the month) I would say is a testimony to Auckland paying interest into what Council is doing. Of course we have the next Unitary Plan submission round late next month where anyone can submit on the points previously made (so no new material). Also if you are like me you are taking a break between all these big submission and consultation periods unless you want to burn yourself out from it all.
Continuing from Voxy
The lack of interest and coverage shows that the public and media have effectively given up on this term, with 2016 set to be a watershed election.
One thing’s for sure the third term will be just as different again with a new Mayor and many new councillors after a whole new public mandate and direction sought and secured.
Be very careful what you wish for Councillor. I can assure you the public and media (both Main Stream, and Social) have certainly not given up on this term. That said I do believe and agree that the third term will be quite different with new Councillors including a possible replacement for Orakei Ward too 😉 .
In the meantime all councillors are committed to making a difference. For me it means keeping the Mayor accountable and focusing on the likes of fighting for lower rates increases and pushing for more sustainable debt levels. I will also continue to advocate for regional funding for projects in the Orakei ward area.
Local Boards I thought would be the best advocates for getting funding for projects in their local area while ward Councillors are meant to be focusing on the big picture regional stuff. Or did Cameron not read this: Slow News Day. We Have the Bigger Picture to Focus On
Oh well I suppose the above was expected from Councillor Brewer.
In the mean time this storm outside is causing enough havoc as is – although I still have mains power in Papakura for now
Stay safe out there folks and keep listening to updates from Civil Defence please.