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Auckland Risks 'Featherweight Mayor'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

27 April 2009 - Auckland's proposed super-city mayor must be given more powers if the city is to benefit from local government reforms, according to a top international expert.

Visiting researcher Professor Robin Hambleton says the Royal Commission has carried out a remarkably thorough study and its recommendations deserve to be widely discussed.

"The metropolis needs strong, multi-level civic leadership," Professor Hambleton says. "But the Government's proposals are for a featherweight mayor. The powers of the mayor should be strengthened if New Zealand is not to miss a golden opportunity to put Auckland on the international map."

Associate Professor Christine Cheyne and Professor Hambleton are both speakers at the Governing for Auckland conference, hosted by Massey University and AUT on Tuesday April 28. Professor Hambleton's visit is funded by Massey's international visitor research fund.

Dr Cheyne's address on putting the "local" back into Auckland's governance argues that attention should focus on how the government's proposed 20-30 local boards will enhance and strengthen democracy in the region.

"The Government has rejected the Royal Commission's recommendation of six councils below the unitary Auckland Council," she says "This could create a serious democratic deficit. The Government's rejection of the Royal Commission's recommendation of three Maori seats further diminishes the potential for the new Auckland Council to ensure that Maori contribute effectively to decision-making which is a requirement of the Local Government Act 2002." In their respective contributions to the Governing for Auckland conference, Professor Hambleton and Dr Cheyne are calling on the Government to implement the Auckland governance reforms at a more measured pace to ensure that the resulting leadership and community accountability arrangements are durable for the future.

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