I move, That the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that this bill be referred to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, as per the notice of motion agreed to on Wednesday to consider legislation concerning the governance of Auckland, that the committee report finally to the House on or before 4 September 2009, and that the committee have the authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting, except during oral questions, during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, or on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, and to meet outside the Wellington region during the sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders 187, 189, and 190(1)(b) and (c).
Auckland is New Zealand’s only city of scale, and it is the country’s main gateway to the world. Because of Auckland’s scale, Auckland’s and New Zealand’s success go hand in hand. As a large and outward-looking city, Auckland can, and should, contribute more to national prosperity and productivity than it does now.
Governance arrangements for the Auckland region have been a cause of concern for at least the last 50 years. There have been some efforts by successive Governments to address the problems, but those efforts have clearly been insufficient. How local government is structured is important in determining what gets done, and, indeed, what does not get done in Auckland. Governance arrangements affect the capacity to plan on an integrated, region-wide basis, and the ability to solve large and longer-term challenges effectively. Governance arrangements affect citizens’ ability to have a say about what services and initiatives they value.
The previous Government commissioned the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance to inquire into, investigate, and report on the local government arrangements that are required in the Auckland region over the foreseeable future. After wide consultation with Aucklanders, and consideration of over 3,500 submissions, the royal commission reported to the Government on 25 March 2009. The royal commission has done an admirable job of consulting with Aucklanders and formulating their recommendations. I take this opportunity to thank the commissioners for their work.
The royal commission’s report identified two broad, systemic problems evident in current Auckland local government arrangements. Regional governance is weak and fragmented, and community engagement is poor. The commission’s report addressed the issues and identified solutions. In particular, it exhaustively described the range of opinions in Auckland’s many communities. We accepted the key points of the recommendations: one council for Auckland, one mayor with governance powers, one long-term plan, and one rates bill.
We did not agree with the recommendations about Māori representation. That will not come as a surprise. If the people of Auckland or the council want specific Māori seats on the council, they already have the ability to enable that. The Government will not impose the seats. We did not agree with the proposal to have six sub-councils. We want more local representation, not less. We want communities to know they have their own local representatives, so we have opted to have 20 to 30 local boards. I am proud that places like Waiheke, which Nikki Kaye represents so well, for the first time will have their proper local representation recognised in statute.
This Government has resolved to act. The Government aims to put the new structures in place in time for the October 2010 local government elections. This short transition period will minimise uncertainty and disruption for council staff and the public. Legislation required to give effect to these decisions has been introduced as three separate bills. We have tried to balance the need for action with the need for continued democratic input. That is why we have split the legislation to effect reform into three bills, of which this bill is the second.
The first urgent bill—the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill—provides the necessary legislative mechanisms for transition to the new Auckland governance arrangements, which needs to occur as soon as possible in order to establish the Auckland Council by 2010. That bill has proceeded through all stages under urgency and without select committee consideration.
I thank Mr David Cunliffe for his assistance. A third bill, expected to be introduced later this year, will provide for the ongoing governance structure and detailed legislative framework for the governance arrangements.
This second bill—the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill—provides for the governance structure of the Auckland Council, including the high-level framework for the structure of the Auckland Council, with eight members elected at large and 12 members from wards; in the order of 20 to 30 local boards, including their high-level functions; and the direction and provision of powers for the Local Government Commission to determine the boundaries of the wards of the Auckland Council and the local boards, and the number of local boards and their membership.
I intend for this bill to proceed through a compressed select committee process, with the committee reporting finally to the House on or before 4 September 2009. We need to balance the need for action with the need to ensure democratic input. That is what the select committee process is about. I urge all Aucklanders to take advantage of it.
It is imperative that this bill be enacted by late September 2009 to enable the Local Government Commission to set the region’s boundaries in time for the 2010 local government elections. This bill implements the royal commission’s fundamental recommendations of a mayor for Auckland, to be elected at large with specific governance powers, and a single unitary Auckland Council, as the first tier of governance. As I mentioned earlier, the royal commission formulated these recommendations after wide consultation with Aucklanders and after considering over 3,500 submissions. This bill is essential to allowing work to get under way to put the Government’s plan into action and to build a world-class city for the good of all New Zealand. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
That was a very interesting speech by the member Rodney Hide. When he mentioned Waiheke, it made me think “Oh, there’s the expert on public toilets in Waiheke speaking.”, and some members will remember that.
Ah—diddums. However, this is a very important bill. Being here this week is like being on the set of Blackadder, where Blackadder and Baldrick—the two local government Ministers—are hatching up a cunning plan for Auckland. But what have they delivered? A giant turnip for Auckland. That is what has happened. You see, this bill is dealing with the rats and mice for Auckland; the big decision has already been made. I think people on the Opposition side of the House agree that one council for Auckland is the right idea, but we do not like the Government trampling over Aucklanders without giving them a say on the really important part—the really big change.
The Associate Minister of Local Government is asking what that is. No wonder we are in trouble! Let me tell members that the honeymoon for National is over, and the brides sitting opposite are going home to their mothers and saying: “Well, it wasn’t that exciting.” They are disappointed, and they will feel from now on that Aucklanders really are upset with them—really annoyed.
You see, we will be given the opportunity to talk about local boards. Those are what we are going to have, but they are not going to have very much power, at all. I suppose the most important power they will have is to decide who gets the key to the local hall. Perhaps they might be in charge of dogs, and in making decisions about brothels. I dare say my colleague on the other side of the House, Mr Bakshi, a list member for National, would know all about that, so he might be able to help there. The boards will talk about parking. They might be able to talk about liquor bans, although maybe the big council will not let them do that. It is really quite worrying.
Well! I want to talk about the Government’s use of parliamentary funds to advertise in the newspaper I have here. I have been looking through it to see who is having meetings. Well, the Hon Dr Lockwood Smith is going to have a meeting. Yes, the Hon Paula Bennett is. She went weak at the knees the last time she had a meeting about this. Who is having the most meetings? It is Nikki Kaye; that is fine. One person I have a bit of admiration for, because she did not jump up in the earlier debates, is Jackie Blue, and I would be interested to hear what she actually thinks. And we have the member for Maungakiekie, who is going to be very busy because he feels a cold draught up his majority. Who is next? It is my friend Mr Bakshi again. He has a meeting, and I want to advertise this meeting. It is in Papatoetoe on 9 June at 7 p.m.; he is asking everyone to come along, and to bring a job offer as well.
He has said nothing in 4 days. Then we have Paul Hutchison, who made a brilliant third reading speech. Someone else wrote it for him—probably the whips or the research unit.
But what is actually happening here is that the Government is trying to con Aucklanders that they are going to have a say. Well, that will not happen at all, because the major part of this legislation—of these three bills—has already been passed. We have a situation where National members are going around trying to con people.
Mr Peachey is not doing it. He is not having a meeting, because he knows that the people where he lives are not going to waste their time on going out to one. They know he is not worth listening to, so they are not going to go, and that is quite a worry.
The other name I was looking for was Melissa Lee. They kept her in the dark last time, and it is not a good idea to keep her in the dark; it leads to trouble.
In the end, we want to find out why National members are having these meetings. Why did they not have the meetings before and tell people about the big plan? They did not do it; they did not want to do it.
Of course, Richard Worth is not having any meetings, and I thought he knew the Mayor of Auckland pretty well—but, obviously, not as well as the Mayor of New Delhi—so that is really quite a surprise to us all. Wayne Mapp is not having a meeting—and why not?
Wayne Mapp is out on manoeuvres. But he gets there, and what a great MP and Minister of Defence he is. He does not get seasick; yes, he is a person without any feelings, at all. He does not feel for the people on the North Shore.
What will happen is that people will go along and make submissions, but will they have a chance to make real submissions? No. The National Government does not have confidence in its membership on the Local Government and Environment Committee. The chairman is from West Coast - Tasman, and of course he has had a terrible job. He has had to cut people off when they have wanted to say something. He has been giving people 5 minutes—5 minutes—to talk about such important things, but National wants someone a bit stronger, who will give Aucklanders only 2 minutes. In the end, the Government is not really listening, at all.
When it comes to deciding whether there will be 20 or 30 community boards, the Local Government Commission will be doing that.
There is “Baldrick” going on again, over there; I wish he would keep quiet.
The people of Manukau will want to talk about their airport shares, and how the National Government stole their shares in the airport. At least I had the decency to sell the shares back to the Government when I was mayor.
Let us have a look at the cost. How much will it cost? The Government is not worried about the cost, because it will not cost the Government; it will cost Aucklanders. It will cost the people who are losing their jobs, the people who are losing overtime. They are the ones who will pay for it. Do members think that the National Government cares?
We have local mayors like Len Brown, who goes around schools and talks to kids, sings to kids, and provides leadership, but there will not be any of that from local boards. They will be chasing dogs, licensing brothels, etc. Calum Penrose is an excellent person, and he is the Mayor of Papakura. What is happening there? In Papakura, where there are some difficulties, the kids are asking “Aren’t we going to have a mayor?”. The kids realise it; the kids realise that leadership is important. They need someone to look up to. They do not need as their figurehead the janitor who looks after the local hall.
In the end, I think that this Government has made a big mistake. The process of getting out and talking to people should have happened with the first bill and not the second, if the Government is sending only one to the select committee. The process should have happened with both of them, actually. But of course the rush is on. And the rush will be on to the polling booths to get rid of the Government that has stolen Auckland this May. The people will remember this time as the turn-round time.
It is quite funny, is it not—I say this in response to what the Hon George Hawkins just said—but the last time I looked, Auckland was still there. So I do not know who stole it.
It is ironic—and we often get some irony in this House—that for the last 3 days or more Opposition members have been saying to us that they actually support having one city in Auckland, but the reason they do not support the first bill is that we have not sent it to the select committee. Here we are now, with a bill that will go to the select committee, and Opposition members do not like it. They do not want people to have a say.
I am pleased to support the Government and to support the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, in the first reading of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It starts the process of consultation that we said we would give the people of Auckland. Most important, it allows the people of Auckland to tell us what they want. I know that it is unusual for the Labour Party to do this, but rather than our prescribing things and telling people about them afterwards or letting them have their say afterwards, we are going out there with an open book. We are saying: “Just inform us, and then we will see how we can accommodate that.” That is the very point.
We hear rhetoric from those members all the time saying that we are doing it wrong, but I did not hear one speech that said: “Here is the alternative.”—not one speech. Opposition members did not tell us what they would have done if they had had the opportunity. It is a good thing that those members did not have the opportunity, because we would have got some more old granny State stuff instead of actually genuinely getting out there and listening to the people.
That is what this bill will do. That is what this Government is about, what this Prime Minister is about, and what this Minister of Local Government is about. I am proud to support a Government that is doing those things. This is a great day for New Zealand. It is a great day for Auckland. It is a great day for the country. It is a great day for democracy. I support all those things.
I begin tonight by thanking the parliamentary staff who have stayed with us right through the proceedings of the last week. I would like to recognise the messengers, our security staff, those who have looked after us, and those who have fed us. We have had a few long hours, because this is an issue we all care about. [ Interruption] Members opposite may laugh.
I will give a little geography lesson about Auckland. There is a road called Dominion Road—Crowded House wrote a song about it—and it runs pretty much right down the middle of the isthmus, south of Queen Street. To the east of that road, as the eye turns to the east—past the bronze statue on Manukau Road of Rodney Hide on his charger— and out to the valleys and dales of Remuera and Glendowie, where Don Brash used to live, it votes blue. It votes blue out in those hills. That is where the old money lives, but I say to Gerry Brownlee that he would not know about that. We turn our eyes to the west, and that is where the real people live. They vote Labour, more often than not. Those people are pretty damn angry at the moment.
This bill is not about us—it is not about members in this House. It is not about the tag wrestle, it is not about the pet names—[Interruption]—and it is not about the members who have come back to the House tired and emotional, I say to Mr Quinn. It is about the thousands of Aucklanders who are watching tonight and wondering why this is happening. The people have in their gut a strong feeling that something has been taken away from them this week—some sense of history, some sense of identity, be it as residents of Waitakere, or of the proud North Shore, like its mayor, or of Manukau City. We might laugh and call each other names, but at the end of the day we know that the people will have the last say.
It is true that the Government has stolen the cities of Auckland. It did not need to do it. We needed an integrated regional body, and the royal commission delivered it. But the royal commission did not ask us to steal the cities. It said we should preserve the cities but make them work leaner and better. The Government could have done that, but it chose not to. What it did say was that it would consult Aucklanders, but it did not. The Government did not consult Aucklanders on the royal commission, it did not consult them on the bill, and it has not been back to Auckland.
The Government says that this bill is going to a select committee. That would make a change! I wonder whether the Government will give the submissioners more time than they gave the submissioners on the changes to the Resource Management Act. There is a lot of quiet anger out in New Zealand about that process, too.
The Government has stacked the deck to keep its mates in power. That is the part I cannot get over. There are eight at-large councillors. If people do not have quarter of a million dollars for a mail drop, they should not apply. It is only for the rich and famous. Nineteen out of 20 councillors, historically, have been white men from Remuera with a lot of money to spend. That will go down in west Auckland like the proverbial bucket of sick, because westies will not stand for it. Sam Lotu-Iiga, and I am using his proper name, thinks it is funny for now, but there is a little clause in the other bill that guarantees he can have a quiet retirement from Auckland City without calling a by-election. That is an outrage—while we are on the subject.
There will be eight at-large councillors, and by my reckoning that means Waitakere City will get two. So 200,000 people will be represented by two councillors. That area is twice the size of a general electorate in a general election. That is not democracy as Aucklanders know it, it is not democracy as they care about it, and it is not democracy as they will vote to exercise it.
The next issue is the cost. If the Minister of Local Government is so confident that this is in the interests of Aucklanders, why does he not come clean and tell ratepayers how much it will cost them? We had to go to Auckland University for independent analysis, and the cost—I say to the ladies and gentlemen out there—is $750 extra per ratepayer, on average. That is what it will cost to fund the transition to make Rodney Hide the “Emperor of Auckland” with his mate John Banks. At $750 each, and with four people in most households, the cost to each household will be $3,000 extra. Ratepayers might get it back over 20 years, but right now they are paying for the political escapades of Rodney Hide and John Banks. We are not enjoying it; nor will they.
Here we are, after a week of pretty heavy going in the House. We have had some fun too, and members may have noticed that our team has enjoyed itself. We are seeing National at its bulldozing worst. it is bulldozing the democratic institutions of Auckland.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you know the song about interjections being rare, reasonable, and, hopefully, even witty. I observe that the former Leader of the House is none of those three, and it would be good if I could carry on with the speech.
Michael Cullen is not actually here. He is the former Leader of the House.
No; I will rule on this. We are getting near the end of a very hectic 3 days, and it has become quite raucous. We have had a very robust debate over the 3 days. But I ask members to give respect to the member on his feet. Cross-interjections should be rare and reasonable.
Look, it is not about me or us; it is about the people of Auckland, and they care about this bill. I ask members to think about them as they do this to them.
We are saying that the arrogance of top-down government does not sit well with New Zealanders. Kiwis are fair and decent people, but they are independent people. They got away from being the servants of the British Empire or some foreign Government, and they came here for a new life. They came here because they wanted to be able to decide for themselves how to live that new life. They will not appreciate Rodney Hide taking away democracy in Auckland. Although, of course, the Government can pass this bill just as it passed the other one, the people will have the final say. The many people who are watching tonight will remember this.
Out west we had a little community meeting on a cold, wet Monday night, and 250 people turned up. That was not by accident.
Where were you? Back in front of the heater in Herne Bay?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I say to Mr Brownlee that I was there. Two days’ notice was given of a march in Henderson, and 1,000 people turned up. They do not do that for no reason. A hīkoi will bring the kaumātua of the north and the south together in Auckland, and I think we need to take notice of that.
I say to Mr Brownlee that there are some political lessons. One of those is not to leave House procedure to the so-called Leader of the House. Forty-eight hours of debate and thousands of amendments after he had said we would be out of here, we finally concluded the other bill. The second lesson—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to know why that lazy Opposition could not take us right through to Budget day, as David Cunliffe promised.
I will carry on with my speech, because that, in fact, was my next point. When Gerry Brownlee is in trouble, he turns to the cavalry from the north. “Hone Carter” might not look flash, but he trotted over the hill just in time to save Gerry’s bacon from a humiliating defeat. Let us hear it for John Carter tonight! He should have been the Leader of the House.
Of course, the most important lesson of the week is the lesson for John Key—amongst others he has probably learnt—and that is not to delegate something as sensitive as this to Rodney Hide and expect that everything will be OK. It is one thing to treat a minor party as expendable, and it is one thing to come to politics as though it is a corporation where one can just delegate to someone, and if it does not work out, one can sack that person, but politics does not work like that, because Kiwis remember.
The analysts out there in media-land are saying that John Key has over-delegated this one. He has let Mr Hide run it, and Mr Hide has run into a buzz saw of public anger, and a buzz saw of opposition in the House, which was good-spirited but none the less determined. One hopes that Mr Key has learnt some other lessons this week, such as the fact that there is no way he can stop Melissa Lee from putting both feet in her mouth, even if he Velcros her to Jonathan Coleman. There are other lessons, too. He should not rub his finance Minister’s face in it, and still think they can look unified at Budget time, and he should not count out an energised Labour - Green - Māori Party coalition, because members might be seeing another one in the future, and it might be sitting on that side of the House.
If Mr Hide thinks people are angry, he should keep his stumpy little bling-encrusted fingers off our city, because we care about Aucklanders, and Aucklanders care about Greater Auckland and the cities that make it up. I also advise him not to count his chickens.
There is also a lesson for the member from Wainuiōmata, Paul Quinn. When he has had a good time it is best to stay out of the House after tea. That is the lesson for the member from Wainuiōmata.
Here is the final lesson for the future. If members have rammed through governance reform like this to make the way clear for Mr Lotu-Iiga to finally have one job when other people are looking for them, and if members think they have paved the way for John Banks to ride into the Auckland Council, they should remember that Aucklanders make up their own minds. Every Aucklander, at that city’s next election poll, will identify John Banks with the bill that stole their cities, and they will say: “If there is one way we can protest against this bulldozing National Government, it is to make sure that ‘Banksie’ is not the mega-mayor.” So this debate does not finish tonight, and it does not finish this year. The fight-back starts now.
I also start by expressing the gratitude of the Green Party to all the staff in Parliament who have kept the place going over the last few days. I hope they understand that it was a protest. It was a protest against the slashing and gutting of democracy in Auckland, and against the profoundly undemocratic way in which this far-reaching bill—which will obliterate layers of democracy in Auckland—was whacked through this House without any ability for the people of Auckland to have select committee hearings or to be consulted in any way. I hope the staff of Parliament and the people of New Zealand understand that that is what it was about: it was a protest. What did the Government expect us to do? Did it expect us just to stand by while this Draconian legislation was being rammed through the House?
Rodney Hide has been very chipper since the dinner break. He has been very, very chipper, bouncing up and interjecting and looking incredibly pleased with himself—and why would he not? He has pulled off a coup—in fact, it is a coup d’état. He has justified his being the Minister of Local Government. No doubt, the ACT Party will have contributions rolling into its coffers from people who will be deeply grateful for what he has done, and who will be rubbing their hands together as they envisage the $28 billion worth of assets that will eventually be privatised in a year or two, and that they will be able to get their hands on. Of course, the people of the Auckland Citizens and Ratepayers Association are gearing themselves up all over Auckland even as we speak, and are looking forward to the day next November when they hope they can take over the council of the super-city of Auckland and unleash their agenda on the people of Auckland. So a lot of people are very grateful to Rodney Hide—or, at least, a lot of business people are. But I think that, once what has happened here sinks in, Aucklanders will not be grateful at all. I think there will be a major backlash when they realise what a coup d’état Rodney Hide has pulled off using the classic techniques of Rogernomics.
National is now pretending that it will go out and consult, after pulling off the coup d’état, after setting up the super-city, and after wiping out eight democratically elected councils. The Government is now telling Aucklanders not to worry, because it will go out and consult, it will set up a committee, and it will listen to the people of Auckland. The only trouble is what is the Government going to listen to them talk about. What is there left to consult about? The whole thing has been set in place. There is one aspect left to consult about—the power of the local boards. The super-city is in place; it is ready to be taken over by John Banks, who will be the next tsar of Auckland. We hope he will not be, as David Cunliffe said, but that is the possibility that we need to face up to. He will have unlimited mayoral powers that no other mayor in Auckland will have. The only counterbalance to the power of the mayor, who will completely control the super-city, will be the local boards.
Let us look at the legislation to see what the local boards are. The first thing that one notices in the legislation is that it states that a local board is not a local authority. I will repeat that: “A local board is not a local authority”. What is it, then? It is an “unincorporated body”. That is what those local boards are, and they have no powers at all in the legislation. The only powers they will have will be delegated by the super-council. So the super-council may decide to delegate some piffling little powers, or it may decide not to delegate anything. The bill then says that there will be four to nine members on each of the boards. We were told in a briefing that the board members will be paid $10,000 each. Those people will represent about 70,000 people. The people of Manukau are going to find themselves with, instead of their city council—which, as far as I know, most of the residents of Manukau are very, very satisfied with—two councillors on the Auckland super-city council, and a piffling little board with four members, which is an unincorporated body. They will not have even a local authority.
And what will these local boards do? They will have absolutely no resources and no power. The local boards will not be able to hire staff. They will not be able to own anything. They will not be able to levy rates, borrow money, make by-laws, or develop plans. What will these boards do? They will do absolutely nothing. I say to Mr Hide that this is not local democracy; this is a pathetic joke. The Government has also got rid of the Māori seats, which were one of the best recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. What an outrage that the Government would simply obliterate the Māori seats.
I warn Aucklanders that the consultation that we are now going to embark on, having set the whole thing up, will be—I am afraid to say—a completely pointless exercise. As everyone knows, a select committee is completely pointless if the Government has already made up its mind. Let us make no mistake: the Government has made up its mind. I say to Aucklanders: “Do not be conned.” Nevertheless, I still urge all Aucklanders who understand what is going on here to make their voices heard and to protest at the select committee, because there will not be anything else to do at the committee hearings, apart from perhaps talking about the powers of the pitiful, toothless, impotent local boards. I encourage those people to turn up nevertheless, because, as the Prime Minister said in this House, every Aucklander who wishes to be heard by this select committee will be heard. I urge people, even though it is too late, to get out there and make their voices heard.
I predict that this super-city is not going to bring about any savings at all, and I am really worried about that. The international research that has been done shows that none of these forced amalgamations—because that is what this is—none of these super-cities, has ever delivered any savings. Most of them have come out and estimated savings; of course, Rodney Hide has refused to tell this House whether there will be any savings at all. Some super-cities promised 18 percent savings, and they eventually saved maybe 1 or 2 percent.
The super-city will disenfranchise whole Auckland communities. There will be a backlash against it, and it will not solve any of the so-called problems of Auckland. The problems of Auckland do not relate to its structure. This whole debate has been about structure. The problems people have with local government are things like the phoney consultation, and the lack of accountability and transparency. None of those problems will be solved by this super-city.
The people of Auckland are going to wake up and find that they have this huge, bloated, remote, inaccessible super-city, which will be a bit like a supertanker, and they will not be able to access it or influence it. The super-city will have $28 billion of assets, and it will be a huge mega-city—one of the biggest in the Western World. The irony is that most places—for example, the United Kingdom—are going in exactly the opposite direction. These places have worked out that big super-cities do not work. They are not flexible. They are not able to deal with the problems of local democracy. So they are going in exactly the opposite direction. They are setting up local councils that are smaller and are genuinely close to the people.
I predict that New Zealand will have a big, bloated super-city for a few years, and then we will work out that it has been a complete disaster and a huge waste of money, and that, far from solving the problems and the alleged parochialism of Auckland, the super-city has only unleashed resentment and disempowerment. In a few years’ time, we will go back to what we had before.
Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare.
Not quite. The original submissions to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance included a plea for recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi in local government, and recognition of rangatiratanga, kaitiakitanga, and the rights and responsibilities of mana whenua. Sure, they acknowledged the limitations of arrangements being implemented by councils around the Auckland region, but they recognised at least the possibility of positive relationships under section 4 of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 2002, which states: “In order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to maintain and improve opportunities for Maori to contribute to local government decision-making processes, Parts 2 and 6 provide principles and requirements for local authorities … to facilitate participation by Maori in local authority decision-making processes.”
But this Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill will throw out that promise. This bill will close off for ever any possible avenue for Māori participation in local government. It will slam the door on a rich resource of strategies and solutions to invest in full participation of Māori in local government in Auckland, and will deny the possibilities of partnership in favour of privatisation, user-pays, and the denial of participation by the citizens of Auckland. This bill may be about the organisation of cost-effective services and the restructuring of representation, but there can be no argument whatsoever for the denial of basic democracy to a third of the population of this country, and the refusal to honour the world’s greatest Polynesian city by giving three seats to people who have been giving land to the settlement of Auckland for more than 200 years.
Although I do not like having to stand alongside the Labour Party, which in Government stole our foreshore and seabed, cancelled grants for Māori students, gave money back to the Government every year as if we did not need it, and refused to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, I recognise an even older maxim, which says that the enemy of my enemy is my friend—at least, for now. Just a few hours ago, I was stinging in my attack on Labour, saying that if its proposal for Pacific and Asian seats on the Auckland Council were genuinely about representation, then where were the seats for the Somali, the Kenyan, the Dalmatian, the South African, or the Scot. I said that although I respected much of what Labour had to say, I felt that its Pacific-Asian representation proposal was nothing but a naked grab for the votes of the large Pacific and Asian populations in Auckland. And I added that although I had the greatest respect for my Pacific cousins, and although I respected the right of Asians to be heard, I could never accept the betrayal by Labour’s Māori MPs of the primary right of Māori to be on the Auckland Council as mana whenua, as tangata whenua, and as Māori.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is well aware, because I briefed him on it, that the Labour Party put down amendments to do exactly what he is now saying, and they were ruled out of order—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you tell me whether a member is allowed to deliberately mislead the House, after being warned like that?
We have just had a number of hours of debate, and the member should know what has actually been voted on and passed. I ask the member to take consideration of the comments he is making.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is not for you to tell a member what he may or may not say in a third reading speech. It is also not for someone who is feeling sensitive to stand up and accuse a member of deliberating misleading the House, and to have your support in that. You should be telling Mr Mallard that he cannot make that accusation—
We are nearing the end of the debate. We cannot say that a member is lying. Those are debating points. We know that very well.
I am on my feet. Members cannot say that someone is lying. So let us continue, and I would ask Hone Harawira to complete his speech. The member has 5 minutes.
I said at that time that I was outraged by the position taken by Labour’s Māori MPs in allowing the status of Māori to be downgraded to that of other ethnic groups, for we are, and always will be, the first people of this great land of Aotearoa. I called at that time on all those Labour Māori MPs to speak up for Māori, to fight for Māori, and to be Māori—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This member knows that is not true. He continues a litany of mistruths, and he knows exactly what he is doing.
I have already ruled on this, and I ask the member to continue. These are debating points.
I called on the Labour Māori MPs to fight for seats on the Auckland Council for mana whenua first, for Māori second, and for anybody else after that, or to admit their failings, to recognise their duplicity, to confess their complicity, and to resign their seats forthwith. And I said that their mana, for what it was worth, the mana of their people, and, indeed, the mana of their tupuna deserve nothing less.
But tonight, for all my criticism of the Labour Party for its watering down of the stand on Māori representation, let me say that I am grateful for the sterling efforts of those from the Labour Party and the Green Party in helping to highlight the naked and rapacious grab for power by those who would seek to commercialise services that people in places like South Auckland have taken for granted. Services such as free libraries and free swimming pools will be turned into user-pays environments, which will deny tens of thousands of Māori and Pacific people access to educational and recreational services, and further consign them to an underclass that grows daily as we speak, as we plunge deeper and deeper into the greatest recession any of us have ever known.
And I am grateful to those in Labour and the Greens—
In no way do I take offence at the member’s comments, even though he is not, in fact, representing our position correctly, but I seek the leave of the House to table a press statement by my colleague Parekura Horomia that clearly sets out the fact that Labour’s policy is—
I sought leave to table a press release by our Māori affairs spokesperson.
Leave is sought to table a press release. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is objection.
And I am grateful to those in Labour and the Greens for standing alongside the Māori Party in challenging the insidious proposal to deny every Aucklander the right to equitably participate in the wider council elections by ensuring that only those with the resources, the profile, the money, and the capacity to pay for a million-dollar campaign need even contemplate applying, once again consigning the powerless, the dispossessed, and the under-resourced to respond in the time-honoured fashion of rejection of a leadership that bears no relationship whatsoever to their own lives of struggle, and to react in ways that none of us really want to see.
I remind all those in National to beware of bills that will still be alive when the next election comes around. Just like the Electoral Finance Act came back to haunt the Labour Government right through the election campaign and eventually materialised to bite Labour on the backside in the election of 2008, so too will the “Waterview Criminal Bypass Bill” and this “Auckland Denial of Democracy Bill” still be open and festering sores in the run-up to the election campaign of 2011, and National will be rightfully blamed and held accountable for them.
In less than 10 days’ time, Māori people from all over Auckland will be marching for the right of Māori representation—mana whenua and taura here. Māori from their many tribal homelands outside of Tāmaki-makau-rau will also be on that march, and I have no doubt that there will be people of many other races there—Asian, Somali, Dalmatian, Kenyan, Scottish, and South African. I sincerely hope and pray that we will also be joined by our cousins of the Pacific, the people whom I call the children of Maui, because we are all related through a common history, a common heritage, and a common love for the waters of the Pacific that are our backyard.
In the same way that I welcome those from the Labour Party who have been speaking boldly and positively about a hīkoi that they have come to late in the day and now speak of in passionate terms of ownership, let me remind them that it will not be a march for the Labour Party, in the same way that it will not be a march for the Greens or the Māori Party. Although it has been the Māori Party that has championed the kaupapa of Māori seats at the table in the debates within this House, we have also acknowledged from day one that our role is to support the efforts, the plans, the hopes, and the dreams of the tangata whenua of Tāmaki-makau-rau for genuine recognition of all that they are, all that they have given, and all that they desire for their children in the beautiful city of Auckland.
We will march for the rights of those whose land we gave our freedom for, and we will march on 25 May 2009 not for our political parties, not for union beliefs, and not for our ethnic differences, but because we truly believe in the Treaty of Waitangi and the principle of partnership, which challenges us all to accept that Māori are not just another ethnic group, that Māori are not just another minority, that Māori are not simply citizens of Aotearoa, but that, in fact, Māori are tangata whenua—people of the land—that Māori are the first nation people of this land, and that the many hapū of Ngāti Whātua and Tainui have given lands for the development of Auckand, often to the detriment of their own future.
I politely remind the House that 31 years ago the State moved in and arrested the children of Ngāti Whātua on the last remaining land that they could rightfully call their own. Who on earth would have thought that, in the wash-up, Ngāti Whātua would choose not recrimination, accusation, and blame, but would actually invite the Auckland City Council itself to share in the management of Takaparawhau, which remains to this day a jewel in the crown of the city of Auckland? Tēnā koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Yee ha!
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The deputy leader of the Labour Party, the Hon David Cunliffe, indicated earlier when seeking leave—[ Interruption]
I have not heard what he is going to say. [ Interruption] Sit down! I am standing—
I am standing. The Hon Rodney Hide has a point of order. What is the point of order?
I am inviting the Hon David Cunliffe to seek leave again, because if Parekura Horomia—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I now understand that you did not hear the first phrase of the leader of the ACT Party. He did not describe a member accurately; he did it provocatively and deliberately. He was in breach of the Standing Orders and the Speakers’ rulings of this House, and I ask him to withdraw and apologise.
I am sorry; I did not hear that. If that is the case, I ask the member to withdraw that comment.
I raise a point of order, Speaker. I know that—[ Interruption]
We are on a point of order, and points of order are heard in silence.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. That is actually the point I was about to make. I know that it is getting later in the evening on Saturday night and we have been here for a long time, and I know that the debate at times has been robust—and so it should be. However, I was sitting here not far from my colleague from the far north, and I had difficulty in hearing him. I actually did want to hear what he had to say. Unfortunately, it was rather difficult because there were a lot of interjections from that side of the House. I am not saying we have not also interjected, but I suggest that the House let the last three or four speeches be heard.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I concur with the comments of the Associate Minister of Local Government, but when a member uses words like “betrayal” in his speech about a political party, that is provocation.
Following on from that, I seek leave to table the draft amendments prepared by the Labour Party for stand-alone, dedicated Māori seats. I advised the member for Te Tai Tokerau that we had done that earlier in the day but they were ruled to be not in order.
Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.
I also seek leave to table a comprehensive list of all the amendments prepared by the Māori Party in order to ensure Māori representation. It is a blank piece of paper. That party moved none.
Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.
It is a privilege to once again stand up in this House, to speak in support of this very fine Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill.
I am sorry to interrupt the member. We have just had points of order from members who said they would actually like to hear what the speakers are saying. Can members keep their interjections focused. They should be rare and reasonable, not interchanges with people across the House.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given your comments, is it is appropriate for me to ask whether I could give my speech again, so that people could actually hear it?
I seek leave to table the voting record of Tariana Turia, which shows that she voted many times with the Government over the Auckland reorganisation.
Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.
It is a privilege to support this bill. The bill is one of a package of measures that will unleash the great potential of Auckland, and of the Auckland region, to contribute to the growth and prosperity of all of New Zealand. Nearly one-third of New Zealand’s people live in the Auckland region. Auckland is the base of some of the most significant business, commercial, and educational functions in this country. It is the key to the growth and prosperity of New Zealand. I commend this bill to the House.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to speak tonight. If I sound emotional tonight, I make no apology for it. In fact, for the past few days quite a lot of emotion has been released by all sides of the House on this matter. It is a very significant matter, in terms of the people whom I represent and the communities I represent in Māngere and Manukau City. I have been to many funerals of friends and relatives—people whom I cherish and are dear to me. I am using this point as a preface before I get on to the bill. Those funerals have all been very sad occasions, but our debate over the establishment by this Government of a super-city without it asking Aucklanders about it has deeply hurt me. I say to this House that that hurt is a reflection of how the communities throughout Manukau City and Waitakere feel about the actions of this Government. In fact, they feel that it is an outrage that they have not been given the opportunity to have a say. It may be that they would agree to the proposal.
That is the reason why I stand tonight to acknowledge and thank all of my Labour colleagues and the other parties—the Greens and, to some extent, the Māori Party—for holding this Government to account. That is what we have asked for—that it gives Aucklanders the opportunity to have a say. Often in this debate there has been outrage from the other side of the House, but the outrage that I feel, and that I suspect is felt by many throughout Auckland, is that the action of this Government can be described as criminal in many senses. We have had two senior members of the Government—Mr Key, the honourable Prime Minister, and the honourable Minister of Local Government—holding a gun to the head of the mayors and councillors and saying “Click! Bang! We’ve got the numbers. That’s why we’re doing this.” That is a sign of the sheer arrogance of this Government after only 6 months of being in power.
For those who are listening, I say that Labour has fought tooth and nail to hold this Government to account. Labour has fought hard to ensure that the bills that this Government is introducing in urgency are examined, because the National and ACT Government’s undemocratic plans deserve to be given back to the people.
So we come to the bill. There are four parts and 24 clauses. The member for Manurewa, George Hawkins, held up an advertisement earlier that had been paid for by the Parliamentary Service—by taxpayers. It is advertising a series of meetings.
Yes. It is an outrage. It is advertising a series of meetings that are to be held in the next few months by the Government in the Auckland region.
After it has been done, exactly—after the fact. Here is the advertisement. It states “Have Your Say …”. This advertisement is deceptive, because the main decision has already been made. But here is the other concern: eight meetings are being held in the area of the current Auckland City Council, and the fear and concern we have is that these meetings are campaign meetings for John Banks by this Government. In Manukau and Waitakere, there is only one meeting. There is one meeting for the 380,000 people living in Manukau, which is the third-largest city in New Zealand—one meeting. I have to ask whether that is a sign of things to come, as a result of this Government and the super-city.
I lament the loss of my city and of four mayors: the late Hugh Lambie; the late Sir Lloyd Elsmore; Sir Barry Curtis, who served 24 years; and now Len Brown, the Mayor of Manukau City. I lament the loss of the three councillors who represent Māngere. I lament the loss of eight community boards, made up of local people who live in the area. With the stroke of Mr Hide’s pen, those local government bodies exist in name only. The power, rights, authority, and privilege are being given to three or four people picked specifically by that Minister.
In Part 1, the purpose clause talks about defining Auckland. Clause 5 talks about the “Meaning of Auckland”. That clause does not define clearly what Auckland is about. It is about more than just an area; it is about the people who live there. It is about the diversity there, the languages that are spoken, the various events that are held regularly in Manukau, for example. Our concern now is about what will happen to our Polyfest, which started at the old school of Sir Edmund Hillary, now called Hillary College. What will happen to that? What will happen to our Asian and ethnic events that are currently being held in Manukau and funded by Manukau City? The Auckland Transition Agency now has control of all that, because it has the same powers as if there were a super-city. That is a deep concern.
I say to this Government that if it had any sincerity—which I have yet to see—about consultation it would take the select committee consultation back to Auckland. It would take it to all seven different sectors of Auckland.
Part 2 talks about the mayor and grants his or her executive powers. There is grave concern about the at-large election of the mayor and the substantial powers that are given to the mayor. The questions that we want answered are about how we will choose that mayor. Will it be by first past the post? Will it be by the single transferable vote system? Will it be by preferential voting? These are the questions our communities will be asking this Government. That is a decision that they have to make.
The executive powers of this mayor are of deep concern to us. This mayor will appoint his buddies and friends to be deputy mayor and chairpersons of committees. Too much power in the hands of one person is not a good thing. We know what has happened in other situations like that. Power corrupts, and we do not think that is right. I liken the super-city to a canoe that will take us to the future. If that be the case, then all people need to be on board and everyone needs to be paddling in the same direction.
There will be only 20 people on this council. Eight will be elected at large, and only the rich and wealthy will be able to stand for those positions. What about ordinary workers and families in our community? What about Māori? The Māori Party says that Labour has betrayed Māori. That is an outrage. We are the ones who have been demanding that this Government be held to account, to ensure that there are Māori seats, Pacific seats, and representation of Asian and other ethnic groups on this local council.
What about the local boards’ powers? Local boards cannot simply go cap in hand to the council and ask for the resources and things that local government bodies need for local communities. It is not just about dogs, prostitutes, and gambling—although some members on the other side of the House might enjoy those things. It is not just about that.
Finally, I will say three things. I say to Government members that if they are sincere, they need to give the people of Auckland time to consult on these bills. The Government needs to do that. It needs to give them time to develop quality submissions. Not everyone is familiar with the select committee process, and I do not want to see this Government go out there and select only its friends, the business elite, to come and debate this. We need to allow every single member of those communities of ours to debate this, in their own languages if need be.
I rise to take a short call on the first reading of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It follows on from the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill, which was passed this evening. We need to look at the facts here. The facts are that the previous Labour Government set up the royal commission—[ Interruption]
I am sorry to interrupt the member. An interchange is going on between two members, and I cannot hear what the honourable member Dr Jackie Blue is saying. She has only just commenced her speech.
The facts are that the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was set up under the previous Labour Government. It recommended that there be one unitary council. It recommended that it be implemented urgently, and that is what this Government has done. The bill that was passed earlier this evening did that. The bill that we are currently discussing sets up the framework for that council, and what is important is that it looks at second-tier representation. We were not happy with the royal commission’s recommendations on the second tier. We want to go to the community on that issue, and we will be having a select committee process. We will be having open forums and we will be listening to people. We are not paying lip-service to the community. Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I commend this bill to the House.
I am glad of the opportunity to speak on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. This bill does three main things: it sets up the framework for the Auckland Council, it sets up local boards, and it describes the role of the Local Government Commission. I will talk about each of those elements, because we have concerns about all of them.
First of all, the context in which this bill is being received into this House is absolutely critical. I do not think that members opposite understand the damage that has been done already. There has been—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a mark of respect for my colleague that I ask through you that the Minister who had her back to the member and was wandering around the Chamber, and other members who were wandering around, do the member the courtesy of listening to her speech. It is important.
Thank you for that. It is important that we give speakers a fair go. As I have said on previous occasions, if members want to wander around and talk, they should do that outside in the lobbies. Only whips should be walking around.
There has been an absolute litany of arrogance since March, when the royal commission report was received. I saw that arrogance just then when my colleague Su’a William Sio was speaking and describing accurately the view of the people of Manukau City. Honestly, the smirking, giggling, and carrying on over on the other side of the Chamber was unbelievable.
Anyway, you took a report that the royal commission spent 18 months working on and you gutted it in a week—[Interruption] Sorry, not you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
They, the members opposite, took a report that had taken 18 months of work and gutted it within just over a week. A number of really interesting and important ideas in that report seem to have sunk without trace. There were good ideas around economic development, a social board, and greater coordination between Auckland and central government. Many, many things are missing from the bill we are talking about now. The development agency is missing, as I said, as are the social issues board, the joint management structures between the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Railways Corporation, and many of the things the royal commission worked hard on. What has happened to those ideas?
More important, the Government’s failure to listen to Aucklanders will mean that this bill and the legislation arising from it will be fundamentally damaged before they have even started. Thousands of people have been involved in marches and meetings, and many more marches and meetings are to come. Let us see what happens with the hīkoi, shall we? The media have also reflected people’s concerns—even the good old New Zealand Herald,with headlines like “Let citizens have say on Super City”. What about the East and Bays Courier with “Call to keep local voice”? What about “Who stole our voice?”, “Democracy at stake”, or “Welcome to Greater Auckland”? The Government is so arrogant that it does not see that it has created a monster already; that concern is reflected in all of the polls that have been taken so far.
This Government made a number of commitments to Aucklanders. I remind members opposite of what it said to Aucklanders. I am appalled that members opposite can sit there and fail to recognise the statement they made in their manifesto: “National will: Support the Royal Commission providing an opportunity for people within the Auckland region to express their views about the structures that will best achieve the goals set out above.” It also states that National would “Consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission are known.” Well, I do not know what has happened to those commitments, but over the last few days we have seen the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill rammed through the House under urgency. There has been no opportunity for Aucklanders to be consulted on that, because the Government has passed the bill already. The Government has taken away the right of Aucklanders, under the Local Government Act, to have a poll on the issue.
The Government has also established a small but very powerful transition agency—an agency that has no obligations to consult anybody, an agency that is made up of three to five people, picked at Rodney Hide’s discretion. Frankly, that is hardly reassuring. The agency has huge power—
I am talking about the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill as part of the context for this bill, I tell Mr Quinn—if he were listening. The transition agency has huge power to control councils—huge power. It has more than $28 billion of assets, and there are no protections against the privatisation of those assets. It has huge power around developing change management plans for 6,300 workers who work in local government in Auckland.
Over the last few days the Government has created a brand new select committee on the issue—a practice that National has been very strongly opposed to in the past. Why has that committee been created under urgency—why? We can only assume that the Government does not trust the existing Local Government and Environment Committee. Labour wonders what process that special select committee will follow. I can only hope that it will be a damn sight better than what has happened at the hearing on the amendment to the Resource Management Act. I had the opportunity to sit in on that hearing briefly and could not believe the way that people were being treated. It was absolutely appalling. Will the Government give a commitment on the bill we currently have before us that everybody who wants to be heard will be heard, and that it will give them adequate time to be heard? I do not think so. All of these sorts of actions have created an environment of mistrust, anger, and real fear among Aucklanders about the ACT and National Party agendas for local government, and members will continue to hear about that from Aucklanders.
This is about a Government that is focused on centralising power—its power! Members on this side of the House do not question the need for change. Auckland faces many, many challenges. It is true that there has been significant discontent about local government, particularly about the inability to coordinate things regionally. There is no doubt about that. I might also say that there is a lot of discontent about the Auckland City Council in particular. Under the current mayor, the Citizens and Ratepayers - dominated council is arrogant, and it fails to address the needs of many of the citizens of Auckland. If people happen to live in Ōtāhuhu, they will know particularly what I am talking about. If the citizens of Ōtāhuhu are listening tonight, I tell them that I am making sure this Government hears about the appalling way in which money has not gone to those citizens and their needs, but has gone to the wealthy in Auckland City.
The previous Labour Government set up the royal commission, because it recognised there was a need for change. Labour members broadly support a unitary authority, because do we need greater coordination on key regional issues, but we disagree with the way in which the Government has trampled across the rights of Aucklanders in this process. So far it has done nothing but be arrogant to Aucklanders, and it has not listened to them. Labour members strongly disagree with a number of the key provisions in this bill. We disagree with the at-large councillor provision, because we believe that only people with money or fame will be able to stand and represent the whole city. People may scoff at that concern, but that was the case with the Auckland City Council until very recently—up until the late 1980s. If people took the time to see what the council looked like back then, they would see that most of the people on that council were white, were male, and came from the eastern suburbs of Auckland City. So there are real problems about at-large councillors.
The 20 to 30 local boards that are being proposed are completely powerless. Labour wants to see a second tier that actually has teeth and that can do things for local people. What about Māori representation? The provision is appalling; we support Māori representation on the Auckland Council. There are other many other provisions of this bill that we are very, very concerned about. Another provision, which again goes back to the issue of arrogance, concerns the powers of the Local Government Commission. Under this bill, the commission will have a number of very important responsibilities, but nowhere does the bill talk about that commission consulting anybody.
Today the fifth National Government, with the help of Rodney Hide, has finally achieved for Auckland what parliamentarians have been trying to do for generations. We simply do not believe that this is as good as it gets for the people of Auckland. Tonight we have delivered one council that will enable Aucklanders to have better public services. As Aucklanders wake up tomorrow, they will realise that this is a watershed moment in Auckland. It is a watershed moment not just for Auckland but also for New Zealand: the moment that the tide turned from endless talkfests, strategies, and action plans to real progress for Auckland.
The people of the central business district and the people of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Herne Bay, St Marys Bay, Westmere, and Waiheke Island deserve to have better public transport. The people of Auckland deserve to have a transport system that enables them to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. One council will enable that to be delivered. But, most of all, the people of Auckland deserve to have local democracy, and this bill will deliver that for Aucklanders. This bill is about giving local communities in Auckland, like those of Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island, back their voice. For too long, the people of Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island have been forced to constantly battle for people to understand their communities. The royal commission recognised that when it stated that community engagement was poor.
We have tremendous respect for the commission, but we believe that the option it offered did not give all local communities across Auckland the voice that they deserve. That is why we have given local democracy a real kick forward by offering local boards. The irony for members opposite is that those members have not yet confirmed whether they support the establishment of local boards. That is right! If they do not support that, they will have to go around the communities of Auckland—like those of Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island—and be very clear about what they are doing to local democracy for Auckland. On this side of the House, our policy is very clear; the Opposition’s policy is not.
Where we agree with the commission, we are implementing its recommendations, as we have done with the provision for one council and one mayor. Where we do not agree with it, we are going back to the people. That is what we are doing. The royal commission went to the people of Auckland and consulted, in an 18-month process that Labour set up and that cost millions of dollars. We respect taxpayers, and we will not waste their money by, in the words of Gordon from Grey Lynn, having “stagnation by consultation” So where we differ from the royal commission, we are going back to the people of Auckland.
I am proud that the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee will enable Aucklanders to have their say on how to run their communities. I am proud that I am holding at least four public meetings, and I am proud that we are giving Aucklanders local boards that will enable them to have a real voice. Today the fifth National Government has delivered a basic system of local democracy to Auckland. Now it is time for Aucklanders to have their say.
This is the evening of a momentous day not just for Auckland but for New Zealand, in that we are debating the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, a bill that will lead New Zealand forward. I want to correct a few of the misconceptions that have come from across the aisle about consultation that has not yet occurred. Well, this is only the first reading of the bill, I remind some of our colleagues across the aisle, and there will be a level of consultation. We will have a number of public meetings where we will listen to Auckland. These meetings will be about members of Parliament listening to their constituents—not members of Parliament who live in other electorates trying to listen, but members of Parliament who live in their electorates.
I also thank the clerks, and the staff of this institution—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that it is not really my role to defend the Prime Minister, but I think attacks on him in this way, by one of his backbenchers, when he is not in the House are just not fair.
That is not a point of order. I invite the honourable member to continue with his speech.
I am not useless. Mr Assistant Speaker, I have thick skin, and I will continue to talk about the bill. We have heard about how sad that mob over there are about this bill. We have heard the Opposition’s hyperbole and exaggeration about the bill, and, in a week when one of our police officers has been killed, I say it is quite inappropriate for a member of Parliament to say that a gun is being levelled at people’s heads. To talk about deaths and funerals when one of our own members has lost her mother, and to compare that with this bill, is quite inappropriate. We had another member of Parliament from across the aisle—one who does not live in his electorate, of course—claim that the people are watching. Well, they are not watching. They are watching the Blues beat the Crusaders; they are up by 13 to 12, and I am quite happy about that.
This bill is about establishing the Auckland Council and the governing board of that council.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek some advice. If you could inform us—
I am not here for advice. The member is making a point of order. What is the point of order?
I am seeking to find out whether the Auckland City Council ratepayer or the taxpayer is paying the bill for this member’s speech.
That is not a point of order; the member knows that. It was simply an attempt to break up the member’s speech.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a two-part point of order. It is a longstanding convention in the House that members should be referred to by their proper names. The member has referred to members opposite by the descriptor “a member who does not live in his electorate”. The second part of the question is whether that descriptor could apply to the member’s leader, when he has filled in a primary place of residence form with an address in his electorate but does not actually live there.
The point of order is that, first, I seek the Chair’s guidance to have an offensive remark removed; and, second, I seek clarification of whether an epithet like “a member who does not live in his electorate” could apply to the speaker’s own leader, who filled in a primary place of residence—
Neither point is a point of order. The member will resume his seat.
Mr Assistant Speaker, it is clear that we have had a historic day today. It is 13 May, and I am glad to be part of a Government that is taking action. I am glad to be part of a Government that has people like Rodney Hide, John Carter, and the Hon John Key in it. I am proud to be part of a Government that does not talk and sit on its heels for 9 years but takes action. We are leading this country into the future. Whether or not members opposite like it, we will be leading this country for a very long time.
I am in support of this bill. Thank you.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill be now read a first time.
Bill read a first time.
I move that the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill be considered by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee.
The Clerk reminds me that there was to be a report-back date.
I think it would be very important that you read the whole thing.
I move, That the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill be considered by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and that the committee report finally to the House on or before 4 September 2009.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member had moved the motion. I do not think it is within the discretion of the House to hear the second motion in any way other than as an amendment to the first motion that he had moved. He moved it and sat down; he was finished. I do not think that we can now give him a second chance to get it right. It is a matter that can be corrected by way of a motion in the House properly put down by the Government to foreshorten the time for the bill to be at the select committee, but that is something that will have to be done at the next sitting. The member very, very clearly moved something. It is something that the House should address. No other Minister gets a second chance to get a motion right, and there should not be an exception for this one.
I do apologise to the Hon Trevor Mallard. I did make a mistake, Mr Assistant Speaker. But I point out that the actual motion had not been put. You quite rightly corrected me, I moved the motion again, and that motion is now on the floor.
The point is, Mr Assistant Speaker, that you called the Minister, he moved the motion, he sat down, and his call was finished, just as Mr Mallard pointed out. Further, in support of what Mr Mallard has put to you, I say that there is a direct precedent for this. It happened in the last term of Parliament with a justice bill, when the Minister failed to move the correct referral motion at the end. On that occasion it was not pointed out by the Clerk. The Minister realised the motion was not correct moments after the question had been put and before the vote had been taken. The Hon Dr Nick Smith raised a point of order on it. That will be clear in the Hansard record. The Government paid the price for it, and had to come back subsequently with a procedural motion to clean matters up. There is nothing we can do about this. The motion was moved by the Minister, and he resumed his seat—it is over. You are now bound, Mr Assistant Speaker, to put that motion to the House to be voted on.
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