24 Jul 2009

Time for fresh face to lead super-city, says Hide

10:20 pm on 24 July 2009

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says none of the current mayors in the Auckland region is right to lead the new super-city.

Mr Hide's comments have come on the final day of hearings by a parliamentary select committee that has spent the past three weeks looking at the shape and functions of the new council.

The minister says the super-city, with one council to be elected next year, would be better led by a fresh face to help invigorate the new Auckland, and that would rule out the current mayors.

"Well (there's) nothing wrong with them, but I just think new council, new mayor would be great," Mr Hide says.

But North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams disagrees, saying the new mayor will need local knowledge for the role, leading about a third of New Zealand's population.

He says it is not the right job for someone with no experience of Auckland politics.

Mr Williams says Mr Hide has clearly not learnt enough in his tenure as Local Government Minister and is disappointed by the comments.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks is the only current mayor in the area to put his name forward for the new post, but others are considering applying.

Final day for submissions

Friday was the final day of public submissions on the make-up of the super-city.

The select committee has spent the past three weeks looking at the shape and functions of the new council and will submit its recommendations to Parliament in September.

Committee chair John Carter says many submissions have been about keeping power at a more local level.

Deputy chair Tau Henare says submissions on Maori seats have featured strongly, with most people in favour of them.

A former finance minister, Sir Roger Douglas, told the select committee that the Auckland super-city should be run on two levels.

Sir Roger, a member of the ACT Party, says he favoured a two-tiered approach to Auckland's governance.

The first level would deal with regional issues, such as arterial roads, regional parks and civil defence planning and it would operate like a board of directors.

The second level would deal with community issues such as local pools, footpaths and libraries.

Sir Roger said it should be up to communities to decide how many councils there should be and their size, but said they would have to raise their own revenue.