16 May 2009

Labour calls for public consultation over super-city

6:01 am on 16 May 2009

Opposition parties are threatening to stall progress on Auckland super-city legislation into next week unless the Government sends it to a select committee for public consultation.

The House has been sitting under urgency since Wednesday afternoon to try to pass the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill.

MPs continued debating until the early hours of Saturday when Parliament rose for the night.

It will resume at 9am on Saturday.

The legislation will set up the Auckland Transition Agency to oversee restructuring of the region's eight councils into a single entity.

The bill successfully got through its first two readings, but the process is now being stalled by the Labour Party, which has put up thousands of amendments.

Labour, the Maori Party, the Progressive Party and the Greens oppose the bill.

Labour says it is trying to draw attention to the Government ramming through legislation without any public consultation.

But MP Trevor Mallard told Parliament on Friday the delays are actually now unnecessary.

"I want to make it clear that we have made an offer to the Government. They do not have to sit all next week ... we have an alternative for them - that is, to send the bill to select committee."

Labour says the Transition Agency is a massive power grab. However, Associate Local Government Minister John Carter told the House the agency will only act to stop wasteful spending.

"We did need to make sure, for example, that local authorities weren't out there using ratepayers' money to ensure that they were misleading the public on issues in relation to this bill, as they have been up to date."

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says Labour is wasting taxpayers' money by intentionally causing delays in the parliamentary process.

A second bill regarding the super-city, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, is also to be debated in the House.