Posted on July 31, 2015
The Auckland Council decision yesterday to ask the Government for the power to create more council politicians didn’t mention the Orakei ward. There are a couple of reasons for this. The local board wasn’t consulted on the report (indeed no local boards were – despite the report noting these issues are of “strong interest” to local boards). Maybe another reason is that Orakei doesn’t seem like a ward which is lacking political representation.
But, guess what?
Orakei has been the most under-represented ward since the Super City started in 2010.
Had anyone bothered to ask, I could have provided the following data (because ain’t it great to have data driving important decisions).
Cameron Brewer the ward councillor, my local board colleagues and I began the Super City with 81,100 constituents, 2,000 more than our Waitemata colleagues (we have the same number of elected reps), and 9,200 OVER the average ward population number of 72,000. This is more than the 10% variance allowed, but the Local Government Commission is allowed to exceed this if it is justified on community of interest grounds.
But does it seem like the citizens of Orakei have been under-represented?
Cameron has been far and away the highest profile advocate for his ward. And Bernard Orsman has been very kind in calling the Orakei Local Board one of Auckland’s most successful local boards.
The issue the report didn’t cover was: how many politicians does Auckland need? It limited itself just to ask Government for the ability to vary the number. Now I have some sympathy for that. Council’s should determine this for themselves, within parameters, and subject to community endorsement.
But, before we set about increasing the numbers of politicians, Auckland needs to do to much more thinking about what we really need our politicians to do. Just because the numbers of citizens increase, should the number of politicians do the same? This has been an accepted principle at central government for a long time. But local government is different. And Auckland is very different local government.
AUT’s Super City project research in 2013 said only 33% of Aucklanders had confidence in our local government (the same who thought Len Brown was an effective leader – when he was more popular). And as I have covered previously, as a sector local government has a reputation index of only 29% – with (political) leadership rated the lowest.
Before we look at the “quantity” issues, how about we look at the “quality” ones. You can start by supporting New Leadership for Auckland!