Auckland Airport calls for a "fresh start" for Auckland

22 April 2008

Auckland Airport is advocating a 'fresh start' for Auckland from the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance.

A comprehensive submission to the Commission, from Auckland Airport, concludes that there are serious issues with Auckland governance arrangements as they currently exist and that significant changes are required.

Based on analyses of a number of case studies and issues, the Airport submission isolates six key interdependent outcomes that must be taken into account and achieved in any recommended framework the Commission may propose for improved governance arrangements in Auckland. They are:

  • Simplified governance arrangements;
  • Improved Auckland-wide focus and strong leadership;
  • Improved economic focus in decision-making;
  • Simplified statutory framework;
  • Efficient and timely consultation and participation; and,
  • Reasonable and efficient costs.

The Airport is not advocating what governance structures will achieve the six outcomes, however it considers that its' analysis reinforces the need for "one voice for city-wide or Auckland-wide issues," and improved arrangements and performance for transport, planning and other key services.

In particular, the Airport submission determines that improved governance arrangements in Auckland are critical, which will require an entity or entities that are directly charged with the powers and obligations to speak with a cohesive voice for Auckland as a whole while maintaining the scope for local participation.

As the Royal Commission's Terms of Reference note, Auckland has to compete globally to sell its goods and services and to attract the talented people it requires to secure a sustainable and prosperous future. Auckland also has to be capable of working effectively with central government to ensure these outcomes.

However, there is no single body currently able to liaise effectively and work with central government to promote Auckland as a world class city, or ensure its regional, national and international competitiveness.

Without a cohesive body with strong leadership which is focused on generating real outcomes for the city as a whole, Auckland will continue to struggle to deliver cogent messages to central government and beyond about its capabilities and goals.

In terms of solutions, the Airport submits that if the Commission is minded to recommend a new entity to achieve one voice for Auckland, then "any new leadership structure should not be built on existing governance structures."

In the Airport's view, simply reforming existing governance arrangements will not provide the appropriate level of city-wide leadership, efficiency or focus that is required, or deliver the fresh approach needed.

"Any new body or bodies should be an entirely new entity, with a new name, and new functions and powers. This will herald a break from the current governance arrangements, and signal a new, cohesive, Auckland-wide focus. A new 'brand' for Auckland is needed for it to become a successful world-class city," the Airport submission concludes.

If the Commission saw this entity or entities as being responsible for speaking for the entire city, the Airport believes there would be a case for elections being undertaken at large on a city wide basis, as opposed to only a ward or local basis. "Anything less than that may not ensure a city-wide agenda or broad local democratic participation is promoted and achieved. Councillors elected only by wards may only promote ward-based local agendas that may work against what is best for the city as a whole".

While having one voice for Auckland is critical, any solution must endorse democratic accountability and local participation. "Even with a strong, city-wide entity or entities governing the direction of the city as a whole, local participation at a secondary level must be robust and accountable as well."