17 Sep 2009

Super-city becomes law

9:58 pm on 17 September 2009

Parliament has passed legislation setting up New Zealand's first super-city, an amalgamation of Auckland's eight local authorities. The final stages of the legislation were passed under urgency on Thursday.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says the creation of one council, one mayor and one plan is vital for the region. "Getting Auckland right is in the interests of all New Zealanders," he told Parliament.

The House also passed amendments, including one to keep the northern boundary of the Rodney district intact.

The Maori and Labour parties failed to get Maori representation on the new council entrenched in the legislation. But Maori Party MP Rahui Katene said the matter would not rest there for mana whenua, "no matter what the vote tells them today".

Mr Hide thanked submitters and MPs who opposed the Bill, saying that robust challenges from Labour MPs Phil Twyford and George Hawkins had kept the Government on its toes.

Process was a 'fiasco' - Labour

The Labour Party says the Government process around the legislation has been a fiasco.

Labour's Phil Twyford criticised the Prime Minister John Key's claim he was open to Maori seats being introduced when he had already ruled that out under pressure from the Local Government Minister.

Mr Twyford said the two men, and the associate minister, John Carter, have handled the super-city issue badly.

Banks rubbishes asset-sale suggestions

Auckland City mayor John Banks has, meanwhile, rubbished the idea of an agenda to privatise assets under the new Auckland Council, calling it humbug.

Particular concern has been expressed about the new water company to be formed when the eight current councils merge, but Mr Banks says selling off assets would be the kiss of death. The Government also says such claims amount to scaremongering by opposition political parties.

Labour and the Greens have accused the Government of leaving the future of Auckland's significant assets in the hands of those who favour privatisation. But the Associate Minister of Local Government, John Carter, says the power to sell local body assets does not lie with government ministers.