Monday, June 8, 2009

The Rodney Hide Auckland Super City agenda a direct assault on democracy

Hide plans radical shakeup of councils
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has Cabinet approval to look into law changes that will strip local council spending back to core services rather than cultural, environmental and social spending. The Cabinet has signed off on Mr Hide's request for the Department of Internal Affairs to review local government law, including the removal of the requirement for councils to deliver on "community outcomes" such as social, environmental and cultural "wellbeing" which Mr Hide said pushed councils into providing services well beyond their core roles. In the Cabinet paper Mr Hide said there was a need for a clearer delineation of central and local government roles. He proposed making councils more financially transparent to force them to focus on core activities. He listed these as transport and water services and public health and safety, such as rubbish collection.

AND IT BEGINS! Rodney Hide has been using the Super City as a grand privatization blueprint he intends to use for the entire country post second term of the National/ACT Government and gutting any social and community responsibility for Councils by suggesting such services are central Government responsibilities is a smokescreen because Central Government WILL NOT increase funding for those local community services at all.

Not content with annexing the entire city of Auckland and placing 5 of Rodney’s hand picked clique headed by the largest privatizer of water in the country to control Auckland (quorum is 2 for that ruling council), Rodney now wants to purge all community and social services from Council responsibilities. The true agenda of what ACT have been planning to do by forcing these hard right policies through under a misuse of urgency is nothing short of a coup, ACT have no mandate for these radical changes, and National are allowing them to push this through so John Key’s hands don’t get dirty. In the Auckland Commission Executive summary, the core brief is framed in terms of cost efficiency…

in order to maximise, in a cost effective manner,—
(a) the current and future well-being of the region and its communities; and
(b) the region’s contribution to wider national objectives and outcomes.
and so:
a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future. Maintaining the status quo, or tinkering around the edges, is not the answer. Bold change is required, and that is what the Commission is recommending.

…with so many efficiency’s created by a unitary Council, how come the Council will now have no cash to fund the crucial social services for their communities? If the social well being of the people living in the city ISN’T a concern for the Council, what the hell is the Council for? Will we allow the hard right to redefine the responsibilities of civic duty to a handful of services they intend to sell off minus a social conscience? Note of course all of this is being done without ANY mandate or ANY consultation and by misusing Parliamentary process in the manner National have throughout their short term in office, often Parliament is being asked to vote on law they have only just read at the opening of urgency, this is a coup and as the size of that coup starts to dawn on Aucklanders there will be anger.

The Auckland Commission Executive’s first quote from any interest group just happens to be the hard right think tank The Committee for Auckland

Commenting on current financial circumstances, the Committee for Auckland observed recently, “It is difficult to imagine how New Zealand can recover, and succeed economically, unless Auckland does”.1

…their ‘plan’ for ‘prosperity’ seems to be a mass immigration policy for Auckland, they mention ‘growth’ 13 times on their first page, as my co-blogger Tim put it…

From that and the infrastructure and project pitches I take it the construction companies must be up to their manhole covers in this front group. It's all GDP and business buzz-words with a heavy large open-ended public works angle. And the immigration issue the Commissioners have alluded to only as the encouragement of talent is clearly just numbers when the veneer of "talent" is stripped away by the Committee's call to continue to deluge the city with ever more immigrants:

…so we are seeing a pro-business mass immigration ‘throw-another-million- in-there-worry-about-infrastructure’s-inability-to-cope-later ’ policy to create ‘growth’ at the exact same time they gut the Council from social responsibilities. Remember, all of this has been done without Aucklanders being consulted. This is a coup, a naked attempt to not only seize power but to recast the entire system to benefit the right’s corporate chums.

Politically correct water reducing shower heads and light efficient light bulbs don’t really seem so hysterically important in the wake of what the right are doing now do they?

How is that change feeling now folks?

Key must rein in Hide’s radical right agenda
The release of an obscure cabinet paper revealing a plan to gut local government and open the door to privatisation of assets has Green Co-Leader Russel Norman calling on the Prime Minister to rein in Rodney Hide. The Cabinet Paper, released onto the Department of Internal Affairs website and signed off by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, seeks approval to develop legislation to amend the Local Government Act. “This Cabinet paper wants to implement ACT Party policy by narrowing the powers of local government and making it easier to sell Auckland’s $23 billion in public assets. The paper proposes to do this without public consultation,” Dr Norman said today.
“John Key needs to come clean on whether he supports the direction that Rodney Hide proposes for local government. And if he doesn’t, then he needs to rein Rodney in.” The Paper proposes to restrict the freedom of Councils to work outside a narrow band of ‘core services’ (para 13). The Cabinet Paper also complains about the “requirements to consult the public on some decisions – notably decisions to contract major council services to the private sector or to sell shares in a port or airport company” (para 18). Dr Norman said that “Hide may not like it but the public don’t want it to be easy to sell public assets or contract out core services to the private sector.” “Remarkably, Hide doesn’t propose to talk to Aucklanders about these changes to the Local Government Act but will conduct a ‘some targeted consultation’ (para 37), which presumably means checking with the Business Roundtable.” Dr Norman said that both Hide and Associate Minister John Carter should be made to explain themselves at public meetings in Auckland this week. “The people of Auckland are already under attack from the anti-democratic Minister of Local Government with the forced amalgamation of the city’s councils. John Key needs to tell us where he stands,” Dr Norman said. Local Government Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said: “This paper reveals Act’s secret agenda to castrate local democracy. He is trying to reduce local government's powers to the point where they are unable to deliver social and environmental services, which are surely their core business. An extremely dangerous agenda is revealed in this cabinet paper, and all of New Zealand, and not just Aucklanders, need to understand what Hide is trying to do here.”

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