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15 September 2009
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Volume 657, Week 24 - Tuesday, 15 September 2009(continued on Wednesday, 16 September 2009)

[Volume:657;Page:6403]

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

(continued on Wednesday, 16 September 2009)

Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill

In Committee

  • Debate resumed.

Parts 1 to 4, schedule, and clauses 1 and 2 (continued)

Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) : We are here to fight the good fight for those in Auckland who are unhappy with the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. This morning I will talk on a very serious issue; I think the Committee finished on a rather trivial note last night, with banter across the Chamber and a fair amount of screaming. I want to bring the debate back to the serious issue of Māori representation, and I want to make things clear. Last night I heard Hone Harawira say that Labour was sitting back on its hands and doing nothing about Māori representation. Well, I do not think Hone Harawira is a member of our Labour caucus, which debated this issue long and hard and which has always held firm to the need for Māori to be represented in this Auckland bill. Labour has always believed that Māori should have seats on the Auckland Council, like in Parliament itself. We have always supported the Māori seats in Parliament. The poor Māori Party over there has been trumped again by Rodney Hide, who has said that its voice does not matter, and that it can come up by means of other mechanisms through the Local Government Act. Well, the Local Government Act actually talks about social and cultural well-being, and we should go back to those fundamental tenets of the last raft of changes to the Local Government Act, which ensured that Māori, in the context of cultural and social well-being, had a voice on the council.

We also advocated for 25 seats on the Auckland Council. The current National-ACT Government is talking about only 20 seats, but we think that is bizarre, because it would mean that there are more MPs in Auckland than there are people on the Auckland City super-council.

Nikki Kaye: What about your local boards?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK: I say to Nikki Kaye that that is our position; we have always said there would be one plan. Last night Nikki asked whether we were against a unitary authority. We brought about these changes. We set up the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. Labour led that action. We are pleased to be part of the next raft of reforms, but we would have done it very differently.

In the minority report we are very clear that we support Māori seats. I point out something to new members in the Chamber who think this is a trivial issue. I will talk about those who submitted to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. There were 287 submissions on separate Māori representation on the Auckland super-city council. Only 83 of those 287 submissions opposed Māori representation, which is 60 percent support. The Government is really very foolish to ignore that level of support. Although it says it has listened and made changes, it has skirted around this change. When Rodney Hide refused to support Māori representation on the super-city, he really trumped the Māori Party. He saw to it, and National supported this, that the good constituents of Rodney held greater weight than Māori in Auckland. Well, I think that issue will come back in the general election, after the local body elections in 2010. The issue will rise up and show the National Government that it has made a fundamental error. I mention that Mr Key said nothing was set in stone. Well, a trader—which is what Mr Key fundamentally was, by profession—would of course say that nothing was set in stone. Of course he said that National would keep the door open and keep considering the issue; he wants to appeal to everybody on all sides of the Chamber.

Another loser here is Mr Tau Henare, and I feel sorry for him. He tried to get support within his own party, which harks back to the support that Georgina te Heuheu was allowed to show in respect of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act in 2001, when she was allowed to cross the floor to support that issue of Māori representation. It is interesting to see all the new members in the Chamber who think they know it all. They were not around in those days, when that context of the debate that Mita Ririnui brought to the House was very bitter. We heard a race-based debate in the Chamber in 2001 when National members, then in Opposition, made outrageous remarks asking why we needed Māori representation. They ignored the views of people like Judge Peter Trapski, who said that without Māori representation in the Chamber or any form of protection for them we would never get Māori views before the House. Look at what we have now with the Māori Party, the Māori MPs, and our Māori Labour MPs in the House. The new MPs forget that environment, where we broke the ice. Of course, it was Labour, again, that entrenched those seats on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and allowed Georgina te Heuheu to cross the floor.

It was quite interesting to hear her say at the time: “The issue of representation for Māori in local government is a significant issue, and not just for Māori.” This is not an issue that we are asking just our Māori MPs to stand up and take a call on; it is one that we all must speak out on. “It has been around for a long time, as evidenced by a notice in the Auckland provincial government’s Gazette of Saturday, 6 May 1867, when J. Williamson, the superintendent of the Auckland Province, gave notice that he had appointed Paore Tuhaere of Ngāti Whātua to give advice to himself and the Auckland executive council on matters relating to the Māori people of the province of Auckland. It is a significant issue.” Tau Henare, Georgina te Heuheu, and other Māori MPs in National know that it is a significant issue. It will not go away. Georgina te Heuheu said herself that Māori will make sure that the issue of representation in any form of governance will not go away.

I believe that if John Key does not take cognisance of this, that issue will be the demise of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, which was a wonderful opportunity for reform. It was a wonderful opportunity, and Labour was behind it; Labour instigated the royal commission. The royal commission report itself said that there should be three Māori seats on the super-city council, but ACT, with Rodney Hide’s “one vote” mantra, has won the war with National. I find it absolutely astonishing that a coalition partner that sits with the local government portfolio—a major portfolio—outside of Cabinet can wield such power and influence over National.

This issue will not go away. We in Labour will make sure that this issue does not go away. We understand that the Māori Party members are put in a dreadful position here, but they have lost. They have been rolled by Rodney Hide, and if that is a mana-enhancing position for them, I think they will have a great deal of problems as a Māori Party to find their place in the sun and to find support when they go out in the next election. They have been rolled.

Paul Hutchison is another loser. I feel a bit sorry for Dr Paul Hutchison; boundary issues were a big issue for him. He will be rolled. I also think that Georgina te Heuheu must be hurting. She must have put up a fight in caucus, with Tau Henare, but she got rolled. The National Government is saying it has a mana-enhancing relationship with the Māori Party, and this is a major signal. This major initiative could have been so positive for all of Auckland and for other regions that are now looking at how they could reform local and regional council governance. An opportunity has been lost. We will be putting up further amendments that ensure statutory recognition of mana whenua on the Auckland Council.

This is a big issue. We will be supporting it, and I think the people of New Zealand will show that the Government got it wrong on this issue. It will come back to bite the Government, not next year in the local body elections, but—once we see that this rushed legislation has gone through—in the 2011 election. It is rushed legislation; here we are in urgency. When we look at major reform of local government in Australia, we see that it took 3 years to get it right. Why are we rushing through this reform just to get it in by 2010? This is the way that mistakes are made. It will come back to bite the Government in the 2011 election.

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I am sorry that Ms Chadwick’s speech presented the whole debate around Auckland, in terms of boundaries and Māori seats, as being all about political winners and losers, rather than being about trying to get the best result for Auckland. Let me explain the issues, and also claim a bottle of wine from Mr David Cunliffe, given his bet last night. I hope it is a decent bottle.

First of all, I pay my respects to the Māori Party members with regard to the way in which they have conducted themselves over this debate. It has been very, very difficult for them. Dr Pita Sharples has been a fantastic person to work with on this issue. I also criticise Labour. For 9 years Labour members never mentioned Māori seats on any Auckland council ever. I also point out that the issue has come before the various councils of Auckland—including Manukau City Council, Waitakere City Council, and North Shore City Council—and those councils have consistently voted down having Māori seats. I find Labour’s argument in favour of having Māori seats to be a case of crocodile tears, because for 9 years Labour did nothing. When the issue first came up from the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, those members were deathly silent. Shane Jones went out and told everyone that Labour would never do the Māori seats, and it was only when the Māori Party became seized by the idea and there was a hīkoi that Labour came out in favour of having Māori seats.

Let me also deal with the issue. The royal commission came up with a proposal for seats from the general wards being Māori wards, and one mana whenua seat. There would be 20 councillors, with 10 of them elected at large. I note that although the Labour members say that we must follow the royal commission in all matters, they are very silent—

Phil Twyford: You supported Māori seats in Parliament.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Yes, I did.

Phil Twyford: You supported entrenchment.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Yes, I did.

Phil Twyford: Is that a principle?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Yes.

Phil Twyford: Is that an ACT principle?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Yes, and I will tell the member why. Poor Mr Twyford; let us just concentrate on Auckland. Let me explain this. We have 16 hours for the debate on the Committee stage of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. If the member listens, he can then take a call and criticise my speech. Government members never called out when Steve Chadwick was giving her speech. If Mr Twyford listens, he can then take a call and explain why I am wrong and present his point of view.

The member should just let me explain the position on agreeing with the Māori Party on the entrenchment of Māori seats at the time of the election. There is a 75 percent entrenchment for the general seats, but there is only a 50 percent entrenchment for the Māori seats. Tariana Turia came to me at the time of the last election and asked me what I thought of that. I said that I was opposed to the Māori seats in Parliament in principle, but that if we are to have them, then the rules should be the same. I agreed with her and I said that consistently. I believe that is a consistent—

Phil Twyford: Dancing on the head of a pin—that’s what it is.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Well, it is a consistent position and, unlike Mr Twyford, I have never changed my position.

We got to the point where the royal commission had advocated having two Māori seats and one mana whenua seat. We discussed that matter with Pita Sharples, and he came to the Cabinet committee and suggested that it did not go far enough and that there were questions about the electoral roll. We felt that, however one looked at it, we were trying to address the governance of Auckland, and that there was a separate issue about how to engage with Māori, and mana whenua and iwi, right across local government. Also, there was no consistent view at that time on how to provide for Māori seats, which made it quite difficult.

On 6 April Cabinet made the decision not to have Māori seats, and then Ngāti Whātua and Tainui proposed the idea of an electoral college. I would be very interested in Labour’s view of this, as to whether it supports Māori seats. I would be interested in Labour’s view as to whether it would agree with the proposal of Tainui and Ngāti Whātua, which then became the proposal to the Government, to have an electoral college that would decide, for two Māori seats, who was mana whenua. Candidates would put their names forward to the electoral college, and this college of wise heads would vet them as to their mana whenua status. If members think about it, they will see that if we are to have mana whenua we have to have a mechanism by which mana whenua can be identified, one way or another. It can be either by a certification process or by an external process. Of course, the concern always was mana whenua. The Māori Party pointed out that Māori who have come to Auckland are actually like everyone else: the concern was with the historical and cultural attachment to Auckland. That seemed to me as Minister, and to the Government, to be a very tough ask because there would be a non-elected group, if you like, deciding who could stand for a particular seat. The proposal from the Māori Party was, first of all, that all Māori on the Māori electoral roll could vote for the mana whenua candidate, and then, after feedback from other Ministers, the Māori Party suggested it could be from the general roll. That seemed to create its own problem, because we would then have candidates who were not answering to mana whenua or indeed to Māori but to everyone who was voting for them, and although they might be screened on the basis of their tribal affiliations, their voters would be coming more widely. This was not easy politics. It is not an easy issue. Whichever way we jump, people will be upset. It was a tough call.

Mr Cunliffe made a bet with me last night. The Prime Minister came to see me on 3 June to explore how Māori seats could be provided for, and I explained how it could be done and the various options that were on the table. I explained to him privately that the implication of doing that would be that I could not be in this chair—that National, the Māori Party, and the Labour Party could have the numbers but I could not be in this chair. I did not regard that as a threat. I never went public. It was an implication of the decision. When I went to Cabinet, contrary to what Mr Cunliffe said, I did not know which way it would go. In fact, I invited Dr Pita Sharples to give a joint Cabinet paper with me because I felt it was unfair for me to take his words and interpret them as my paper, and I wanted to put the best debate and argument before Cabinet and to take my chips accordingly.

But here is the issue. No one has denied Māori a seat at the council table—no one. In fact, there are five Māori councillors in Auckland now and two of them are deputy mayors. The analysis over the last 20 years shows that in Auckland Māori get elected roughly in proportion to the proportion that they stand for seats. That is, there is no systematic bias against Māori candidates, which I find quite remarkable. It concerns me, though, that if a mana whenua candidate is standing in a general ward, that candidate is actually responding to everyone in that ward, not just to Māori and not just to mana whenua. The candidate has to be broader in outlook. But in a way, from the point of view of the council, that seems to be an inclusive way of doing it. Certainly, when I visited Porirua City Council, which came out against Māori seats, that is precisely the way that council finds it to be. I would like to see the new council building up a good relationship so that specifically we can have a relationship with local iwi and mana whenua, but the idea of councillors representing, in an inclusive way, all of Auckland seems to be excellent to me.

I also do not have a dark view of Aucklanders, now or in the future—

Hon Tau Henare: What?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: —a dark view that they will somehow look at a person’s race, tribe, or skin colour and on that basis decide not to vote for that candidate. Certainly the evidence does not back that up. The Labour members are saying that somehow Aucklanders are racist. They are saying Aucklanders will not vote for a Māori candidate, because the candidate is Māori, so we have to have special seats, because Aucklanders are not reasonable people. Labour members are also saying, in my view, that Māori cannot succeed in a general seat. I think that is rubbish too. I understand the argument that a Māori succeeding in a general seat has to respond to the general concerns, but I do not believe that Māori will not get elected. My priority as Minister of Local Government is to get better engagement in local government. I think we are achieving that in this Government. We are letting local government get on and do it rather than having the ninth floor tell them what they can and cannot do.

I make this point too. Pita Sharples came to me late one night and we had some very, very good discussions. My respect for Dr Sharples grew enormously through this experience. He never raised his voice; he never got angry. He just discussed it with me. He asked me what would convince me to agree to Māori seats. I found that question very, very challenging, because in a way I had a strong principle that said no. I sat there and looked at him and told him that a good principle would do it. He asked what I meant. I said the principle that is driving me in this is that each person should have a vote of equal value, that every position should be open to a free and open contest, and that we should not have privileged or special seats decided by a tribe, the landed gentry, or powerful business. Yes, I understand that Māori have a 1,000-year connection to Auckland. But actually a long connection has been fought with blood and tears to allow Jack to be as good as his master politically: that every vote counts the same, that anyone can have a crack, and that anyone can get elected. It has a way of keeping our political power—so we say—somewhat humble and respectful. As soon as we allow a privilege—that is to say, a local tribe deciding who the candidate can be—we are powering up a privileged group in that they have a power given to them that no one else would have.

I said that that would be my principle and asked him what his would be. Dr Sharples said it would be two things: mana and achieving representation. Let us deal with representation, which is a serious issue in local government, not just for Māori, but for all groups. The issue came out yesterday, as the Associate Minister of Local Government pointed out, that I favour the single transferable vote and councillors elected at large, because I thought that would give us a more representative council.

Phil Twyford: Are you going to vote for it?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I say to Phil Twyford that of course I will not vote for it. When the member has been here for a while, he will understand that there is such a thing as Cabinet collective responsibility.

Phil Twyford: What about your ACT colleagues?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Gosh! He worries about my ACT colleagues. I would worry about the Labour caucus if I were him. I would worry about what Mr Phil Goff was up to, not about us.

The representation issue, I believe, is of concern not just to Māori. It is actually about representation of the various groups that make up a city or a region. The second issue was mana, and I agree with that. I believe that we face that challenge in local government and in central government, whether we like it or not. If we are to succeed as a country we will have to understand better the indigenous values, culture, and spiritualities.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: What happens if none are elected—not one Māori person on the entire Auckland Council? What happens then?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I say to Ms Dalziel that I would like to be in this situation: oftentimes in a democracy we get results that we do not agree with—Heaven knows we had Helen Clark as Prime Minister for 9 years—but we can learn to live with it because we see it as a fair and open process. That is what is important. I know that the Labour members love gerrymandering elections to get a result they would like.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: Answer the question.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: The member will get the opportunity to speak. I am answering her question if she lets me. We have a system whereby, yes, we often get results that we do not like, but the great thing is that we can accept the process. I know that the Labour members love to screw this round and say that they want a Chinese person, so we should have a Chinese seat. They would like their candidate, Len Brown, to be the candidate for mayor, so they will screw the seat. They would like their member to stay as Prime Minister, so they will take some taxpayers’ money. I say this: at the end of the day—

Hon Lianne Dalziel: What does it say for the Treaty relationship?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I say to Ms Dalziel that it says two things—I am getting a lot of heckling from the Labour caucus. The Treaty actually says in article 1 that there is one Sovereign, in article 2 that there is respect for property rights, and in article 3 that there is equal citizenship. That is exactly what the ACT Party stands for. That is exactly what we are promoting. As regards the ACT Party being the “1 percent party”, or whatever, I say that actually the Government and Parliament are deciding this, not the ACT Party. I am sorry that Labour members are not used to being in Opposition, but they will get used to it over the next 20 years.

Finally, I say that it is open to any council to have Māori seats any time they choose. I note that Labour’s candidate, Len Brown, is standing to be the mayor of the new Auckland Council, before we have even passed the legislation.

SUE BRADFORD (Green) : One of the critical areas where the Government has got it wrong with this legislation is in relation to the voting system. The Green Party and many other individuals and organisations in Auckland strongly believe that it is absolutely vital that the single transferable vote system (STV) be used from the time of next year’s local body elections. I have an amendment in front of the Committee to that effect, and I encourage all other parties to consider supporting it, including ACT and the honourable Minister Rodney Hide, who has just repeated again that he does actually support STV.

The Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill as it stands adopts the first-past-the-post system for the election of the mayor, councillors, and local board members. I propose that we use STV instead for all three categories.

It is a real pity that a majority on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee went with first past the post, as progress towards the super-city presents us all with a prime opportunity to provide much better democratic processes for Auckland, rather than sticking with an old system that has mostly failed minority interests. For example, we were told during the select committee hearings that no Māori person has ever been elected on to the Auckland City Council in its entire history. What an indictment on the voting processes used to date, and on the power of Pākehā wealth and privilege that has allowed this to happen. This is a true relic of our colonial past. Using first past the post for the new arrangements will serve only to help maintain that power and privilege at a time when not only Māori but also other so-called minority groups, such as Pasifika and Asian peoples, are becoming a greater and greater proportion of our city’s population. Lianne Dalziel asked the Minister a very good question just before: what happens if there are no Māori councillors on the entire council? That is totally possible if we continue with the first-past-the-post voting system.

The single transferable vote system is a far more democratic way of ensuring that all citizens will have their voices heard and their representatives elected. The majority of those who made submissions to the select committee on this question of voting systems supported STV. STV ensures that elected candidates, while not necessarily being the preferred candidate of the majority of voters, at least have majority support. It works by voters ranking candidates in order of preference—one, two, three, and so on—with the candidate with the lowest number of votes being eliminated and that candidate’s votes, showing second preferences and so on, being transferred to other candidates until the quota is reached.

For example, with STV the new Mayor of Auckland could be voted in only with the majority of voters’ preferences—that is, with at least 50 percent plus 1—and not by a minority of voters, which could happen very easily under first past the post. We are talking about one of the most powerful positions in the whole country. It is very important that we get it right. What could happen under the first past the post system, for example, is a result like the one that happened in the Rodney District mayoral election in 2007, when the mayor was elected with the support of just over 20 percent of the voters and with less than 10 percent of registered electors declaring their active support for that candidate.

Given that the Government has made the outrageous decision to refuse to allow guaranteed Māori seats on the new council, it is even more critical that we have STV to maximise tangata whenua participation and representation. Although STV is at times derided because it is slightly more complex than first past the post, there is no evidence that is has discouraged voter participation in other areas like Wellington, where it has been used for local body elections.

The Green Party believes that in the longer term STV may well increase voter participation as voters not only come to understand how the system works in practice but also see that it provides more legitimacy to local government by providing representatives who more truly typify their interests and aspirations. STV is fair, because it is proportional. It is positive, because nobody’s vote is wasted. It is representative, allowing greater diversity among those elected.

This legislation is the biggest change in local government arrangements ever made in this country, at least that I know of. The Government is manifestly proud of what it is trying to accomplish. I challenge National and ACT to think again on the question of STV. I understand that National is genuinely keen to make the most of this dramatic new arrangement for Auckland. Why not use the best possible voting system right from the start, rather than sticking with a process that is a poor second-best?

Hon TAU HENARE (National) : I was going to start with some comments on the Hon Steve Chadwick’s speech, but I think I will go back to front and comment on my friend and colleague Sue Bradford about the single transferable vote (STV). She has laudable principles around proportional representation—and I think everybody in the House enjoys proportional representation—but for her to say that STV will be some sort of panacea to the issue of Māori representation is bit wide of the mark. I say that because the introduction of STV in our district health board elections was supposed to give us a lot of Māori, Pacific Island, and other representation, but it has not delivered in terms of Māori representation. That is the issue that I have in the back of my mind, which is that in terms of Māori representation we have not yet found what I think is a system that maximises proportional representation. I do not think we will have it with STV.

To go backwards, I think that there is some history that people ought to know about Māori seats in general, in terms of where they came from. They were ostensibly to shut down Māori participation in our new democracy in the 1870s. They were not there because somebody felt sorry for Māori. They were there because Māori were the largest landowners, and it was only landowners who could vote in our new country way back in the 1870s.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: I think you’ve got that slightly wrong, Tau.

Hon TAU HENARE: Pardon me?

Hon Lianne Dalziel: I think you’ve got that slightly wrong, because they were collective landowners.

Hon TAU HENARE: OK. I have it wrong. Gee, how terrible of me! I have actually got it wrong, I am being told by that member, who has had a Māori seat and who understands the whole issue of Māori representation! But that is OK. Silly me! I thought I had something to say, but maybe not.

I suppose therein lies the problem with the Labour Party. Its members love continually to lecture other people about the issue of representation.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: What is your problem?

Hon TAU HENARE: Let me tell that unfortunate member. The issue of Māori representation was that Māori had the right to vote because they were all landowners. It does not matter whether they were collective landowners; that is splitting hairs. The fact of the matter is that for a long, long time—right up until 1938—when Māori elected their representatives to the House of Representatives they did it by a voice vote. They were not even allowed to have a secret ballot. Up until 1938 people would go along to the polling booth and verbally tell the registrar whom they wanted to vote for. The first time that Māori had the choice to partake in a secret ballot was in 1938.

There is a lot of crowing about the 2001 local government legislation, and I want to put on record that the genesis for that actually came from the Hon Tuariki Delamere. He was a former Minister of Immigration. It was he who introduced to the House the genesis for the 2001 legislation.

Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) : Thank you, Mr Chair—

Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I am not saying that I should get a call before my colleague, but the Minister got three calls in succession. I can understand that. I know that the rules say he can have up to four, I think. But I think it is a wee bit on the nose that the Minister got three calls in a row, and little old poor me gets only one, halfway through—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): I say to the member that whether he is little, poor, old, or whatever it is, is irrelevant. All members stand before the Chair as equals. The member himself has had three calls in this debate, and when I had a flick down my record I saw that the Hon Mita Ririnui has had none. The House has a fine tradition of giving new speakers priority over those who have had several calls. That is the tradition. The final point I make to the member is that the right to decide who has the call rests with the Chair, the Chair alone, and it is undisputed. As in football, I have never yet seen a decision by the ref overturned by a good argument. I make the point to the member that he will never see a point of order in this House overturn a call, so do not make that point again.

Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I think you did not hear me right. I was not disputing the fact that Mita Ririnui was given the call; I did not say that I should be before him.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): I do not want to prolong this, but I say to the member that he has been here long enough. If the member takes a point of order on the calls, he is, by implication, clearly challenging the Chairperson’s decision. There can be no other reason for doing it. I called Mita Ririnui and I explained to the member so that the member got some of my thinking as to why I did that. I restate the point that the member has had three calls in this debate and Mita Ririnui has had none. I think it is only fair that members who have not had a call in this debate should have one. That is the end of the matter; I do not want any more points of order on this.

Hon MITA RIRINUI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson, for that fine ruling.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): Members are not supposed to refer back to the Chair’s rulings.

Hon MITA RIRINUI: Pardon me. I actually want to thank the Hon Tau Henare for his contribution to the debate. There was not much about his speech that I agreed with, but I think one point he made he was actually quite accurate on, which was his views on the single transferable vote (STV) system. The member made the point that regardless of the fact that STV is adopted in our local district health board elections, not one Māori has been elected through that process. That needs to be pointed out in the Committee. In the first round of district health board elections no Māori were elected, and I think in the last round maybe one or two were elected. That is not a very good average. I thank the Hon Tau Henare also for his recall of the history of Māori representation in Parliament. I was hoping he would talk about the journey he spoke about when he took a call last night.

Hon Tau Henare: Well, I didn’t get the call, did I?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: Well, the member had plenty of time to touch on the matter but he never took the opportunity. The member talked about taking the people of Auckland—1.25 million people—on a journey. They had not signed up or bought tickets to go on the journey, but they would have been dragged along anyway. Of those people going on the journey, 135,000 happened to be Māori, but the journey had no destination. The member would not tell us the destination. It is no wonder that there are issues around Māori representation on the Auckland super-city council.

I have a lot of respect for the member. He was a very fine Minister of Māori Affairs; he certainly knew his job. However, he should be consistent in his views. He expressed a very strong view against the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide. I wondered to myself what it is about the word “Rodney” that sends fear through the National Government. Every time Rodney makes a statement, the Government wants to comply. When Rodney District Council protested about the northern boundaries, the Government listened. National members spent so many hours in the Chamber last night trying to convince themselves that they listened throughout this whole process. The problem is that they cannot convince the people of Auckland of that. The people of Auckland are waiting for the Minister of Local Government to front up and tell them why he did not listen to them.

I heard a number of National speakers in the Chamber last night make the point that the Government listened. The only person who made some relevant points around the consultation process over the last few months was the Hon Tau Henare. But he was given an impossible mission. It was his responsibility to go out, take charge, and facilitate a process to hear submissions from Māori communities. He did a very good job, a very fine job, and a very thorough job, but National did not tell him that it did not really matter because the decision had been made. So Tau Henare launched an attack on the Minister of Local Government—and rightly so. I know he has not changed his mind, but he is a loyal member and he has signed up to the arrangements that the Government has entered into with the ACT Party. That being the case, the Hon Tau Henare will live by the decision of the Government.

I wonder about the so-called process the Government adopted in terms of the Auckland Council. According to the Government the process does not wander far from the process we used in respect of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council issues on Māori representation. The consultation process on that matter was thorough. It actually took 9 years, not 9 months. The Bay of Plenty councillors travelled to every corner of the electorate and even contracted a retired District Court judge, Peter Trapski, to conduct the hearings. To cut a long story short, the report back to the council recommended the establishment of a Māori constituency, based on the same formula for the selection of wards as that adopted by central government for determining the number of Māori seats in Parliament. Following a very long debate at the local level for the Bay of Plenty and Waiariki, the bill covered the tribal confederations of Te Arawa, Mataatua, parts of Tainui, Horouta, and probably even further than that.

Something like 300 hapū were involved in the consultation rounds. That is a pretty overwhelming statistic when one thinks about it. As a result of that, I, as the member for Waiariki at the time, introduced the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill to the House. It was then that we became aware of the anti-Māori views of the Minister of Local Government, the Hon Rodney Hide. I heard his speech this morning—he took three calls—and I will go back to the Hansard later on today, because what he said today is exactly what he said then. He is fundamentally ideologically opposed to Māori representation at any level. I wonder what it is about his stance on Māori representation that has not sunk in for the Māori members of the National Government. I wonder what it is about his position on Māori representation that has not sunk into the minds of the Māori Party members. I say to my whanaunga from Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Arawa, that this is an opportunity for that member to stand up in this House and challenge the Government and the Minister of Local Government. He should tell the Government what the people of Waiariki think about the actions and decisions of the Minister of Local Government.

I challenge the member for Waiariki, because during my term as the member for Waiariki, he challenged me many times; I did not mind that. He challenged me on my stand on the foreshore and seabed issue. I chose not to run away; I chose to stay and fight the fight. I chose to take on the hard stuff, not like others who refuse to stay and fight. I say to the member for Waiariki that this is the opportunity, and I will give him all the help he requires, because he will need it.

I also heard the Minister of Local Government say he had a number of meetings with the Minister of Māori Affairs. What he said about that meeting, and what the Minister of Māori Affairs said publicly, varied quite considerably. I wonder whether the Minister of Māori Affairs should have stayed at home and sent the member for Waiariki instead, because the outcome might have been different, and it might have been better. To accompany him, he should have taken the member for Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira. I know that Rodney Hide would not have patronised those two members. He would not have redefined their mana-enhancing philosophy. That is exactly what the Minister of Local Government did in respect of the Auckland legislation. He rolled them. He convinced them that what he was about to do was good for them. He told them that, in terms of Māori representation, they are equal to everybody else. Well, the statistics say otherwise. What is it about the matter that he does not understand?

Tau Henare said that STV has never produced strong Māori representation—or any Māori representation at all. I got the impression that he was saying he was still in favour of designated Māori seats. He gave no other example apart from STV, and his stand on the Minister’s decision on Māori seats seems to be well positioned. I wish he would get up in the House and reiterate that. I know that my whanaunga from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the Hon Georgina te Heuheu, is not happy with this. She is very unhappy with this. I have heard her take a number of calls in the Parliament over the last few weeks and indirectly oppose the Government’s stand on Māori representation for Auckland City. I know that on the marae 2 weeks ago she again indirectly opposed the Government’s decision. What is it about my whanaunga from Ngāti Awa that prevents them from taking the same stand, getting up in the House and taking a call, like the rest of us, and expressing honest opinions about the lack of consideration for Māori representation?

It is interesting that during the Bay Of Plenty Regional Council consultation rounds, the number of submissions made was, I understand, 278, and in the electorate there were 287. The difference here is that probably about 1 percent were opposed, from the normal groups.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : We have heard a lot about Māori representation today, but I would like to focus on the matter of the local boards of Auckland Council. They are at the heart of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill and I think it is really important that we start looking at some of the provisions that relate to them. You see, Labour members have stood up today and confirmed that they support a unitary authority, but the Labour Party has shifted significantly in terms of the number of local boards it wants. Mr Twyford came out at the beginning of the process and said Labour wanted six to 12, but when Labour members started to go around the communities of Auckland, they realised that, actually, the only party that was campaigning to get rid of communities by advocating six to 12 local boards was in fact the Labour Party. Many members on the opposite side of the Chamber—and I know this for a fact—then said to their members on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee that there was no way they would support having only six to 12 local entities. So Labour members changed their position and moved to advocating 10 to 12. They shifted further—they wanted 14 to 20 boards, and that is the position in the report.

I have a question for Mr Hawkins, who is sitting in the back row opposite. There is a campaign within Papakura called “Save Papakura”. Under the Labour Party model we do not know whether Papakura would have a local board. So Mr Hawkins will have to stand up and defend the Labour Party’s position with regard to local boards. I believe that the Labour Party supports having a unitary authority and close to 20 local boards. If Labour actually supports only 14 boards, then I would like some of the Labour members across the Chamber to stand up and say whether they support 14 or 20. But, you know, we will not hear that because Labour members support having 20 local boards. So we are here, on a historic day for Auckland, and the members opposite actually support the majority of this legislation. Labour does have some issues with a few things such as Māori representation, but Labour members, rather than supporting the legislation they actually believe in—for an event people have been waiting for for 50 years—prefer to sit on the sideline and not support this bill, a bill that will be good for Auckland.

The other major inconsistency in the Labour Party’s position is around the number of councillors. In Labour’s minority report, which I will quote back to them, they say they are concerned and would like to have more councillors so that they represent smaller areas. How does that match Labour’s local board policy? It is totally inconsistent. We are hearing inconsistency from the opposite side of the Chamber, and that is why this debate is dragging on. People listening are hearing about everything but the majority of the content of the bill. Labour members have travelled around Auckland and realised that the writing is on the wall. There are many communities that want to be represented and want local boards, and Labour members have realised they had to shift their position. Labour members want a unitary authority, and their minority report is filled with inconsistencies, like their position on councillors. I will stop talking about the Labour Party, because I think everyone knows that Labour members are standing up and opposing this bill for political reasons only, not because of what is best for Auckland.

This is a historic day for Auckland. National and ACT have listened. We have gone to the people of Auckland and listened to them in a 2-year process that was started by the previous Government. To those members opposite who argue that there should be a referendum, I say that the royal commission said that that would be a very superficial thing to happen. We have spent 2 years debating this. We have an 800-page report; 3,500 submissions went to the royal commission; and 2,500 submissions have been received by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. What would it have taken for the Labour Party to actually make a decision on this? Well, it would not have made a decision. Labour members are indecisive. That has been shown by their consistently shifting position regarding the number of local boards. It is shown by their inconsistent position on the number of councillors. Labour did not have the guts to make a decision in the 9 years it spent in Government. National is here and it is making a decision. Yes, it is very hard. Issues of Māori representation are very hard. Yes, we may not get it completely right. But there have been 2 years of consultation and a lot of money has been spent.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : First of all, I tell Nikki Kaye, the member who has just resumed her seat, that many people would prefer that the community boards had some real teeth, and that they were not paupers having to go along to their super-council to get funding. This is one of the problems: they do not have any staff. Nikki Kaye wants to know where we stand on the issue. Well, the Mayor of North Shore stated: “Hearings of the Auckland Council Bill promised the Auckland public their big chance to have a say, yet the upshot is an all powerful super Auckland Council, a super Mayor with even more than before, 20 to 30 completely powerless local boards with no statutory powers or resources in their own right,”. That is why we do not support those bodies at all.

Nikki Kaye: That’s not in your minority report.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: We had to deal with the legislation that was put before the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and that person has not learnt.

I will talk about the Māori situation. I wonder what actually happened when members were called to the Cabinet meeting. ACT’s Rodney Hide was there. Then, of course, there was Dr Sharples. What did they say? Why did John Key and the Auckland Cabinet Ministers tell them that Rodney Hide had won and Pita Sharples had lost? What was said? What is the basis for this decision?

What was Nikki Kaye told in the caucus about that? She can sit there smiling; I bet she did not get up and challenge John Key one little bit. She would not have got up and had a go. The little parrot from Tauranga would not have said anything, either. He would not have said a thing.

At least Tau Henare is prepared to speak out. He was prepared to call people buffoons, and that rang a real bell with all Aucklanders. You see, Tau Henare is an interesting guy. The only people who do not like him are members of his own party. That is the truth.

We have the situation where we have someone just recently out of high school, who has not been around for a long time, come into the Chamber and not tell people what went on to make Cabinet back Rodney Hide. Why did John Key back him? What does Rodney Hide have over John Key that Dr Pita Sharples does not? That is the real key.

You see, Māori people were badly served. Was this issue debated in the caucus? No, National will not debate those sorts of things. Like little lambs, its members go along to a caucus meeting and listen and they are told what to think. They are not allowed to think for themselves. I can remember going to Cabinet meetings and then going to Labour caucus meetings, and sometimes the caucus was very, very vocal. But that is not the case in respect of National. It has a system whereby when Cabinet makes up its mind and when John Key tells its members what to think, then that is what they think.

The Māori people of Auckland have been sold down the river, because those members will not stand up for them. We have people like Nikki Kaye who have done the arithmetic and found that there are hardly any Māori on Waiheke Island. There is not a great percentage of Māori in the population there, so is she worried about them? No, not at all. All she wanted there was someone to make sure that the footpaths were not changed from white concrete to red concrete. That is what she was on about; those are the realities.

When Nikki Kaye finds that the going gets tough, she should not try to blame the Opposition for the decisions of a Government that is out of touch with ordinary Aucklanders. Ordinary Aucklanders will punish her, and they will punish other members. If I was Paula Bennett, with a majority of 635, I would be very worried.

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) : Mr Chairman, kia ora tātau katoa i tēnei ata. I te tuatahi me mihi rā ki te hunga o roto i a au, i a Te Arawa i tēnei rangi, ngā taiohi e whakataetae nei i te āhuatanga o Te Manu Kōrero. He kaupapa nui e hāngai tonu ana ki tēnei kaupapa i te rangi nei.

  • [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

[Greetings to us all this morning, Mr Chairman. Firstly, I acknowledge today Te Arawa and the young ones taking part in Te Manu Kōrero speech competitions, a great event that relates directly to this matter.]

Āe, nō reira rā kia ora tātou katoa. One thing I remember about the Committee stage of the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill was the voting pattern. Our voting procedure, for one reason or another, found us all of a sudden speaking Māori in this Chamber on a regular basis. Funnily enough, I have not heard that pattern repeated since that day, so I hope that in the context of Māori seats we might think about our voting patterns and the broader issues in respect of te reo Māori. That is the first issue.

The second issue is that I was ready to give a lot of kudos to my relation from Ngāti Ngāraranui the Hon Mita Ririnui, because, in fact, the bill that he spoke about—the bill that he ushered through this Parliament in 2001 on the issue of Māori representation on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council—set the scene for what the Māori Party believes is a great pattern to be used throughout the country. The downside is that no one has picked that pattern up, which I suppose is, in a sense, symbolic of what might happen with this particular bill, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It sets a scene and it sets a precedent, but it all depends on whether people are willing to follow it. I was not here when Mita Ririnui’s bill was being debated, but I heard about the background: the debate was 9 years ago, and there were battles in this Chamber in respect of Māori representation. Although there might have been a scrap about the bill, in the end the theory was that it would set a precedent for the country. But that did not happen. It has not happened to date; in fact, Māori representation was almost got rid of not long ago and cut back to two seats. Now it has stayed the same.

One thing I hope that this country comes to grips with is that it is OK to have Māori representation. I ask people not to be scared and not to worry; we are not going to take over the country—just yet. People do not have to be scared about it. Māori people actually have some good ideas to contribute to this country, and local body seats are one way of doing that, if we only get a shot at getting in. That is the problem. The practical experience of Māori people in this country finding a place on local bodies is not too hot. In fact, the Hon Tau Henare—for one reason or another, when it came out in public about how he was thinking on this particular issue—highlighted the experience by talking about the record for Auckland; eight seats, I think it was. Māori have been elected on to the board eight times. That is all good. Rodney Hide stood up in the Chamber this morning and said it can be done. It can be done, but it relies on so many things. There is the catch.

I know that I will probably take a couple of calls on this bill during the course of the day, but I just put in a good word for Tau Henare, Mr Chair. He is trying hard to get a call and I am sure you will think of him in the future.

To try to set the scene for our other comments I will kick off by saying that on the eve of the Auckland-Northland Local Government New Zealand meeting at Manukau City on 28 August, councillor Richard Northey—a former member of Parliament, I believe, and the chair of the Local Government New Zealand Zone 1—made a statement that I hope all members will heed. He said: “For the supercity to have a chance of working it is crucial it has the confidence of all significant sectors of Auckland, particularly Maori.” That is what he said. Auckland Māori have said in no uncertain terms that they need Māori seats in order to gain the assured, authentic voice of Māori at the top table of Auckland governance, and that they need to have confidence in the new Auckland Council. It was Mr Northey who raised the lousy record of Auckland voters in electing only eight Māori to the Auckland City Council throughout its long, 138-year history. I can say, because I am a teacher, that that is an average of one Māori appointed every 17 years. Despite my relation the Hon Mita Ririnui saying that the Māori Party members have not been, he should know that we have been in there from the start. He knows that, so I am not too sure why he mentioned that kōrero. We have not been able to support this bill, because it simply does not provide for Māori representation in the governance structure of the proposed Auckland City.

At the first reading of the bill the Māori Party raised a number of points in support of dedicated seats. We said that it was a specific recommendation of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, that it was consistent with current provisions in the Local Government Act 2002, and that dedicated Māori seats uphold the partnership relationship established between Māori and the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi, including the partnership established with mana whenua of Auckland. This position has been underscored by the many public submissions received by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, which has been examining the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, with the report noting that substantial support was received for reserved seats for Māori.

That was some background to the bill, but I want to catch up on a few statements made by the Hon Rodney Hide. He talked about principle. I suppose the bigger principle that I am asking about, that the Māori Party is asking about—and, indeed, I hear Labour asking about—is whether we accept the notion against the background of Te Tiriti o Waitangi that it is appropriate that Māori have a say as of right on a city council. That is the issue. Do we accept that principle? Mr Hide is a principled man, and that is the principle we should be talking about, not “special seats”, as he termed it. We are not asking for special seats; we are asking for our seats—mana whenua seats that acknowledge the connection of Māori of Tāmaki-makau-rau to the land. That is what we are talking about. That is not a privilege; surely it is a right. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is all about rights and obligations. He actually quoted from Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which was nice. The downside was that it was the English version. If he had looked at the Māori version—

David Garrett: Which one? There’s more than one.

TE URUROA FLAVELL: That is correct, and that is the point I am making. If he had looked at the Māori version, he would know that it is quite significantly different.

David Garrett: There’s more than one Māori version.

TE URUROA FLAVELL: Yes, and they all line up. They all line up. That is fine. We will hear from the Treaty expert shortly, if he wishes to take a call!

In rounding up, I say that in Rotorua it is all fine to talk about Māori representation when it happens, but the problem is that there are too many ifs and probably a lot of buts. The problem is that unless one has a profile and unless one puts up the big dollars, there is no way in hell that Māori will find a seat on a district council. We must remember that the ones who are there in Rotorua represent everybody, for goodness’ sake! They are not Māori representatives; in fact, they would probably get killed off because they do not go in hard enough on Māori representation. Yet our people want to have their say. Why? Because they are linked to that land, they are linked to that area. There is their whakapapa. That is what we are talking about in this bill, and we want to add to the discussion later on with some significant Supplementary Order Papers that will, hopefully, draw a line in the sand in respect of how we view this whole discussion.

I know very much that my time is up, Mr Chairman, and that I probably will not get three calls in a row as I am not yet a Minister, but be that as it may, I am sure that you will look kindly on us throughout the rest of the day. Kia ora tātou.

KELVIN DAVIS (Labour) : Tēnā koe, Chairman Roy. Tuatahi māku, e hiahia ana ki te tautoko i ngā kōrero o tērā o ngā whanaunga mō Te Manu Kōrero e tū ana i roto o Te Arawa i tēnei rangi. Tuarua, e tautoko ana i ngā kōrero mō te tuituiatanga o te reo rangatira ki roto i ā tātou kōrero i roto i tēnei Whare. Tuatoru, tautoko ana ahau i te kōrero a te whanaunga rā mō tōna pātai e pā ana ki ngā tūru Māori nei i roto i te tāone nui o Tāmaki-makau-rau; e mataku ana te Kāwanatanga i te aha?

  • [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

[Greetings to you, Mr Chairman. First, I want to endorse what that relative said about Te Manu Kōrero in Te Arawa today, Secondly I support the interweaving of the chiefly language in our speeches in this Parliament, and thirdly, I support that relative’s statement pertaining to his question about Māori seats in the super-city of Auckland; what is the Government afraid of?]

Previously when I have spoken in the House I have spoken about the Treaty of Waitangi being a bridge that crosses over a river. On one bank is the Māori world, and on the other bank is the Pākehā world, and the Treaty of Waitangi is the bridge that crosses over the river. It allows people from one side to cross over and engage in the life, customs, culture, and language of the other side. The question is who has crossed the bridge more often. Certainly, just about every Māori I know has crossed over the bridge into the Pākehā world and speaks the language, goes to the schools, and understands the culture and customs. But how many times have Pākehā crossed the other way and become familiar with our language, our customs, and our culture? The answer is very few—very few.

I endorse what Te Ururoa Flavell just said when he asked what the Government is scared of in terms of crossing that bridge. What is the Government scared of? Māori do not really want to have a big takeover of New Zealand and to make everyone wear piupius and live in nīkau whare. That is not what we are about. We simply want to be able to engage at a governance level. Be it in the country or be it in Tāmaki-makau-rau, the city of Auckland, we want to be able to engage as of right, so that we can help people on the Pākehā side of the river to cross over the bridge and come to understand us as a people and as a culture.

I listened to the debate last night and I want to debunk a bit of a myth that flowed through all the speeches. The myth is that the National Government is listening. We heard it last night from Nikki Kaye. She stood up, pointed her finger, tapped her bench, raised her voice, and told us: “We are listening. We are listening. We are listening.” Simon Bridges was the same; he jumped up and said: “We are listening. We are listening. We are listening.” The Hon John Carter, aside from running interference for Rodney Hide, deflecting a lot of the criticism of Rodney Hide, stood up and said: “We are listening. We are listening. We are listening.” The Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman said: “We are listening. We are listening. We are listening.” It is as if one says it long enough and loud enough, it will become true.

National members got into cars in Auckland and drove up the motorway to the Rodney District. They had said that they would cut the Rodney District in half. We must remember that this was at the eleventh hour, before the bill came back to the House to be debated. In fact, it was not at the eleventh hour; it was at about half past 11, or probably 5 to 12. Those members went up there and they realised that they had made a mistake. So they back-pedalled, they backtracked, they flip-flopped, and they said: “Oops! We have made a mistake. All these people might not vote for us.” It was a political decision. They did a flip-flop, they changed their minds, then they wondered how to put a positive spin on it. They decided to say that they had listened, that they had been listening. If I can say one thing positive about National, it is that it knows how to put a spin on something. It repeats it over and over again, but it is still spin. It is spin.

I have a two-word reply to the National Government, if it is genuine about saying that it listened. That two-word reply is “Māori seats”. I ask Nikki Kaye where the Māori seats are in Tāmaki-makau-rau. I ask Simon Bridges where the Māori seats are in Tāmaki-makau-rau. Where were those members when 7,000 of us walked in the hīkoi? Where were those members when 7,000 of us marched up Queen Street? [Interruption] They like to put another spin on it, asking where Shane Jones and Parekura Horomia were. They make fun of our colleagues who were strategising over a McSalad. Where were members opposite when Pita Sharples stood up in front of 7,000 Māori and said: “Keep going, keep going, the Government is about to crack.”? I was there when he said that. I heard him say that the Government is about to crack. There is nothing like raising expectations to dampen the party.

Those 7,000 Māori and 300 submitters to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee said they wanted Māori seats on the Auckland Council. But the Government has not listened to Māori. Why not? Because there are no votes in it for National. That is why it has not listened. The Government listens only when there is something in it for the Government. Māori have not been listened to.

This is a Treaty issue, as Te Ururoa Flavell has said. The Treaty is about a partnership. Where is the partnership in the Auckland City debate? There is no partnership. This issue is about a group of people saying to Māori: “Sorry, you don’t have a voice. You don’t have a say. ” We are meant to be grateful that the Auckland City Council has had one Māori city councillor every 17 years. I can almost hear people saying: “What are you Māori moaning about? One city councillor every 17 years? You should be grateful. You’re lucky that you’ve had one Māori voice every 17 years. Know your place, Māori.” That is what we are hearing. One Māori city councillor every 17 years on the Auckland City Council is a disgrace. This bill is an opportunity to rectify that. It is an opportunity to show that the National Government’s new-found love affair with Māoridom is genuine. It is an opportunity to show that the rhetoric is more than empty, hollow words.

I ask Nikki Kaye how hard she argued in her caucus for Māori seats, if she is genuine about saying she is listening to Māori. The member for Auckland Central pointed her finger, tapped her desk, raised her voice, and said: “We’re listening.” It is spin. We want Māori seats; we have said from the start that we want Māori seats. As my colleague Steve Chadwick said, our caucus spoke at length about Māori seats. We have wanted them from the start. I stood in a Māori seat. Labour supports the Māori seats. There is no argument beyond that.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. Saying “We are listening. We are listening. We are listening.” is spin. This is about the Treaty of Waitangi. Where is the partnership? Where is the Māori voice on the Auckland Council?

DAVID GARRETT (ACT) : This is my first speech on this bill, and I want to touch on two aspects: firstly, the number of councillors and the need for the super-city as a whole; and, secondly, the topical question of Māori representation.

I will comment firstly on the matter of the numbers. Just by coincidence, I was lobbied—that would be the fair term—by the Rodney District Council some months ago in an attempt to keep that authority as a unitary authority. By coincidence again, during the previous week I had had an email from a Kiwi living in Melbourne, who informed me that the population of Greater Melbourne—3.8 million—manages quite well, thank you very much, with seven councillors. The Rodney District Council has 12 councillors plus the mayor.

Just yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with an American delegation of young, up-and-coming political leaders, one of whom is a council-woman, or commissioner as they are called, from Miami-Dade County in Florida. She and the other delegation members were very interested in the super-city proposal. It turns out that for a population of 2.2 million, the Miami-Dade council functions perfectly well with 12 councillors. Our city of Auckland has half that population and we are proposing to have 20 councillors, and the Labour Party thinks we should have more. It is interesting that our councillors are apparently so poor in quality that they need twice as many in number, as compared with Florida. I suspect that is not the case.

The second major issue is, of course, the Māori seats. When I visited the Rodney District Council a couple of months ago, I had a meeting with the mayor and the deputy mayor, whose name I regret I cannot recall—his surname, anyway. He is a Māori guy by the name of John, and he spoke extremely passionately at the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee hearing, which I attended, in Silverdale a couple of months ago. He gave probably the most passionate presentation I heard that day, and probably the most passionate presentation I have heard in my short time as a member of Parliament and as a member of a select committee.

He also made the point that there was no self-interest for him, because he was not standing again for the council, if I recall correctly. The point I am making is probably quite obvious. Here is a Māori guy who is deputy mayor in an area that could fairly be described as a fairly whitey area. There are not many Māori living in the farther reaches of the North Shore, Ōrewa, Whangaparāoa, and Kaukapakapa where I live, but this guy managed to be elected as deputy mayor.

Down in Gisborne, where I come from—I sort of know the Māori name for Gisborne, but I cannot remember how to pronounce it properly, and I think one should pronounce it properly—Atareta Poananga is a councillor. She is one of those hangovers from the past who still think that we whiteys should be pushed back into the sea. She says we should go back to where we belong, but she gets elected. There are enough people who think her crazy, mad views hold some credence, and she gets elected. So right there, just off the top of my head, are two examples of Māori being elected to councils.

There is no place for Māori seats on regional councils, on local councils, or in Government. I would like to quote two members of the Labour Party. One is a current member, Trevor Mallard. He was mocked outside this House for saying that because he is from Wainuiōmata, he is tangata whenua. He was mocked for it. I recall a speech made by the late great David Lange at Canterbury University 22 years ago. He said that everyone in New Zealand is an immigrant, whether they arrived last week, last year, 150 years ago, or 500 years ago. He got a bit of stick for it at the time, as well.

I come from a multiracial family. My wife is Tongan. My daughter is both Tongan and a New Zealander. Interestingly she considers herself a New Zealander. My son, although having Tongan heritage, is not a Tongan because Tonga has strict rules on citizenship and he was not born there. I envy the members of this House who can speak in te reo—

MOANA MACKEY (Labour) : I am very happy to follow on from my colleague from Gisborne, David Garrett. I think the most telling thing about that speech on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill was that Mr Garrett really disproved his own point. He could not remember the Māori guy’s last name, so how would he be able to vote for him? He met someone who inspired him so much, but he disproved his point exactly: he came to the ballot paper and could not remember the guy’s last name, because it was Māori. I think that quite aptly shows some of the issues that Māori have in terms of representation. The reality is that no sane person can look at the history of Māori representation on the Auckland councils and say that it has been fair. They cannot, because there have been eight Māori elected to council in nearly 150 years. If Mr Garrett thinks that that shows the system is working A-OK, then I think that says something about the ACT Party.

I also work in the Bay of Plenty. There are Māori seats on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. You know, the sky did not fall in! Racism has not exploded in the Bay of Plenty. There are no racial divides over there. I want to remind members what the National Party said about that legislation, which was put up by my colleague Mita Ririnui, and about the Local Government Act, which allowed councils to have Māori seats if they decided they wanted them. I have picked two quotes from the Hon Dr Nick Smith. These quotes show that none of us really should be surprised that at the end of the day the National Party went with the ACT Party and decided to say no to the 7,000 people who marched in Auckland saying they wanted representation on the council. The Hon Dr Nick Smith said: “Then we have the separatism provisions: the way in which we are to change a long-term, 160-year tradition in the way we elect local members, by introducing apartheid. I say to the Minister in the chair, the Hon. Chris Carter, who proudly boasts that he protested against apartheid in South Africa—but he is going to introduce it into New Zealand—that he should get on his feet and defend that … What is separate representation, if it is not apartheid?”. That is what the Hon Dr Nick Smith said. He also said: “This damn law we are being required to pass is nothing less than apartheid, and I cannot believe members opposite want to impose this sort of obscene provision. It offends against National’s principle of one standard of citizenship.” When one considers those quotes one sees how little has changed.

Those of us who support Māori seats in Auckland see the value that those seats will bring. We see that in the Bay of Plenty. Another concern the National Party always raises is that it will mean Māori members will only focus on Māori issues. Well, that has not happened in the Bay of Plenty. The Māori members focus on everything. The other members focus on everything as well. It is actually about representation on the ground. We have a number of councillors who probably do not go on to marae a lot. Hui is not their preferred form of contact with their constituents, so they simply would not go there, whereas the iwi representatives on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council do. They go to the hui, they hold the hui, and they consult with their constituents. One would find, if we did not have these seats, that a whole portion of our society would not get the same level of representation. So having these seats is about equality.

Imagine if we were to say to some of our Pākehā constituents that we would not go to their meetings. We would say that we expect them to come to the marae, we expect them to come to the hui, we expect them to speak in Māori, and then they will get representation from their elected representatives. They would say that was not fair, and they would be right. So why is it OK to say to Māori constituents that they will have to come to our meetings, we will not come to the marae, we will not hold the hui, we will not hold the hui in Māori, and they will just have to live with that? Why are two standards OK to the National Party? That is what we are talking about.

We are talking about representation on the ground for the Māori people of Tāmaki-makau-rau. I want the next National speaker to stand up and say what is so offensive about requiring equality of representation. It is still the one person, one vote principle. They do not get to vote twice. They do not get to vote for two people. They still get to vote for one representative. What is so wrong about ensuring that every citizen of Auckland gets equal representation, equal contact with their elected representatives on the city council in the biggest city in New Zealand, our most important city, and the city where it is crucial that we get it right? Why is that so offensive to the National Party? To me it seems to be common sense.

Mr Garrett raised the issue of Gisborne, and said some very unkind things about Atareta Poananga. Two or three councillors out of 12 on the Gisborne District Council are Māori, in a population where 45 percent are Māori.

David Garrett: How did they manage to get on the council?

MOANA MACKEY: How did they manage to get on the council? Oh!

Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) : I think we need to remind ourselves why we are here. How did we come to discuss the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill today? There has been 50 years of concern over Auckland governance, and that is really why we are here today. It was clear that the governance was not working. There was red tape. There was stifling bureaucracy. Transport in Auckland was grinding to a halt. Businesses were suffering. There were turf disputes. There was a lot of duplication. That is really why we are here. The last Government got the royal commission to look at the issue of Auckland governance. The commission consulted widely. It took about 20 months, and it produced a very comprehensive report. That is why we are here. The commission felt there was only very superficial appeal for a referendum, and it felt after its wide consultation that there was consensus for one Auckland Council. It said even more: that it was very urgent, that we had to get on with it, and that we had to get moving. It stressed the high cost of doing nothing. So this Government has acted decisively, and that is why we are here debating the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill today.

Importantly, I think, we have taken on board the local board representation that the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance noted in its report. Indeed, we have strengthened some of those recommendations. The boards are really one of the most critical pieces of this legislation. Certainly, when we were going around Auckland talking to the different communities—we went to the communities; they did not come to us; we made sure that we went to them—their concern was that they would lose their identity, that they would be smothered by the one Auckland Council, that they would not have representation, and that it would all be fairly meaningless. Well, we listened, and there have been significant changes to arrive at the current bill that is before us. It was a democratic process. The process was started by the former Government, and we are completing it. We will have it on track, ready for the local body government elections next year, which will be very critical.

The local boards are quite new; they are not the local community boards we have now, and they are not the city councils we have now. They are new entities with new powers, and with a status all of their own. They are legitimate. The powers they will have will be backed by the legislation we are debating today. They will have dedicated budgets to provide local services and they will have money to plan for their areas. To do that, the Auckland Council will need to devolve a policy of funding so that it can pass on money to the new local boards. We listened and we consulted. The local boards will be empowered to listen to their communities, to consult with their communities, and to write up a plan. Importantly, the one super-council will have to listen to those local boards. It cannot take them simply as lip-service; it has to take note of what the local boards are saying. The boards will have a special status at the council table.

The local boards will need to take a holistic view of their community so that they can promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities. I think that that is really quite a nice flavour of what they have to do for their communities. It encompasses what they are charged to do for their communities. Of course, the Local Government Commission will have the final say on the number of local boards, their boundaries, and also the number of members on each of those boards. The number will be somewhere between four and nine people. The local boards will even be able to pass by-laws, which must be adopted if they are truly local and comply with all plans and laws. If appropriate, by-laws can even be enforced by the local boards.

John Carter made a very good point last night that all parties in the Chamber actually agreed with the concept of the new local board. No one dissented. Everyone agreed that we got it right. Everyone supported it. There were no negative comments in any of the minority reports about the local boards.

The Local Government Commission will have to look at the number of local boards as set out in the bill—anywhere between 20 and 30. It is proposed that those local boards should include Rodney, Franklin, Waiheke, and Great Barrier. The Local Government Commission will determine the final boundaries of the local boards. The local boards will not be toothless entities; they will have power, they will have teeth, and they will bring back the “local” into local government. This bill is about empowering local boards so that they can represent Auckland’s diverse communities.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : I think Labour has stated clearly that we are not opposed to the reform of the Auckland region. In fact, we have asked for it. But we are saying to the Government that the process is flawed and undemocratic, and I emphasise that it is not visionary enough. There might be a vision in the structure for businesses, but there is no vision for the rest of the population.

I stated in my second reading speech on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill that the Auckland region is home to 1.4 million people and about 180 different ethnic groups, and it has the highest Māori population anywhere in New Zealand. In Māngere alone, 20 percent of the population are of Māori heritage, and about 60 percent of the population are of Pacific heritage. Māori, Pacific, and Asian communities are asking where the vision is. They are asking where they fit into this structure. They are asking where they are being included in the future structure of the Auckland region. Labour believes in having a Māori voice on the Auckland Council. It is about providing a positive vision for the people. It is about taking everyone along. It is about setting good leadership for that region to aspire to.

I ask members opposite whether they are familiar with these names: Ngāpuhi, Waikato, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūhoe, Te Rarawa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Kahu. Those are the iwi that the people of Māngere are affiliated to. I ask members opposite whether they are familiar with these names: Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-apanui, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāi Tahu, Kai Tahu, Ngāti Te Rangi, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Raukawa, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Tai Tokerau, Ngāti Maru, and Ngāti Whakauē. Those are all the hapū that people in Māngere are affiliated to. I ask Government members whether they acknowledge the existence of these people. Do they acknowledge that they have a place in the future of Aotearoa New Zealand? If so, they need to heed the voice that has declared to me and many other MPs in Auckland that Māori want their own voice in the new super-city governance structure.

Although I am proud to represent the 20 percent of Māori who reside in Auckland, I am fully aware that I am not Māori. Māori want their own voice. Members say that Māori issues are hard, but they caved on Mr Hide’s tantrum. It was so easy. He had only to say the word and members caved in to him. Mr Henare has called Mr Hide a buffoon and a jerk-off, but what will he do about it? What will he do about supporting Māori seats? Nothing. I have asked him to cross the floor. Both Mr Henare and Mr Hide ought to be sent to boot camps.

It is true that there have been Māori on the different city councils of our Auckland region, but they are elected from small wards. I will give members an example. Ōtara, with a population of about 35,000, has had Māori councillors. Councillor Kūkū Wawatai was for many years the deputy mayor of Manukau City. Councillor Reuben Wiki represented the Ōtara ward in Manukau City for many, many years. But those Māori councillors came from small wards where there was a large Māori population that recognised that those people provided good leadership in those small communities.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : First of all, I would like to correct some misleading comments that National members John Carter and Jackie Blue made when they said the report of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill was unanimous and no one had voted against sections of it. They know that is completely untrue, and I clarified that with John Carter yesterday. I reminded him that the Green Party had voted against every part of the bill. I know that because I was there doing the voting, so I would like to correct that.

The second thing is that I pointed out yesterday that the local boards would have no right to hire staff, no independent source of revenue, and no clearly defined powers, and that they would be completely subservient to the Auckland Council. John Carter said no, that was not true, so I asked him to point out to me which provision in the bill set out the autonomous powers of the local boards. Let us remember that is what we are replacing here. We have had six well-functioning, autonomous city councils, and they will be replaced by these four to nine - member boards, which have no autonomy. I asked John Carter to point out to me where autonomy is provided for in the bill. He could not point out to me the relevant clause. He suggested that I go and talk to the officials, instead. So off I went to the officials and asked them to point out to me the provision in the bill that states unequivocally the powers of the local boards. They pointed me back to clause 13D.

I would highly recommend that Aucklanders have a good look at clause 13D. It says the council can delegate to the local boards, but the council can also override or veto a local board, and it spells out four ways in which the council can do that. The council may do so if it thinks the effects of an activity could be felt beyond a board’s area. Well, almost anything would be. The council may do so if the activity needs to be aligned with other council decisions. Well, surely everything would have to be aligned with other council decisions. The council may also do so if the benefits of taking a consistent or coordinated approach outweigh the benefits to, and the needs and preferences of, a local area, or if the activity is one where decision making on an Auckland-wide basis would better promote the well-being of the communities. In that clause, which John Carter reckoned spelt out the powers of the local boards, and which officials pointed to me as being the relevant clause, four huge reasons are given for the council to override every decision of any local board. So I think we can put that claim by John Carter to rest, as that clause makes it clear that the local boards are completely subservient to the Auckland Council, which is called the governing body. They have no autonomy and no powers of their own.

The second thing I want to do is to introduce the amendment set out on Supplementary Order Paper 55 in my name to the powers of the mayor. We are basically seeking to amend clause 9 so that the powers of the Mayor of Auckland are the same as the powers of the mayor of every other council. We cannot understand why the Mayor of Auckland should have excessive powers that are given to no other mayor in New Zealand. No justification has ever been given for this. Interestingly, just before I introduced this amendment, I happened to hear on the radio this morning—it was very interesting; I think it was Radio Live—John Banks, doing an interview. This was very, very interesting. He was talking about the super-city. He said he had a campaign staff of 600 people. I think everyone needs to know this. He said on the radio he had a campaign staff of 600 people and he would need a huge budget, because he pointed out that it would cost $130,000 just to send a letter to the 800,000 voters of Auckland. This will be one of the largest local bodies in the world, representing 800,000 people. Is that local government? I do not think so—that is State government. Anyway, why would John Banks have a campaign staff of 600 people and vast amounts of money? Why is he so excited about this super-city? He knows that if he makes it into the mayoralty, he will have huge and excessive powers under this bill, unless my amendment goes through.

Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) : I start by formally apologising to the member for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell. The reason I am doing so is when I took an earlier call on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill I made a very strong statement, which I stand by: that the Māori Party members have been, by and large, quite invisible throughout this whole debate. They have made public statements and they have certainly taken a few calls in the Chamber, but I was not convinced that they were totally committed to the kaupapa of Māori representation. However, I held that view right up until the moment that the member for Waiariki stood to take a call. He made his position very clear in terms of his support and the support of his party. Now I am convinced that he is not dilly-dallying around, he is not playing politics with this issue, and he is very committed to the issues at hand. So I say to the member for Waiariki that that was a very important call, and he raised some very relevant points.

One particular point he raised was fear. It seems that he is of the same view as I am: for some reason, the National-led Government has a fear of Māori. In the past, particularly going back to 2001 when I introduced the Bay of Plenty Regional Council legislation, I had the same impression: a number of National and ACT members in this Chamber—particularly the Minister now in the chair, Rodney Hide—were fearful of Māori and fearful of the Māori voice. They were fearful that Māori might have a level of control over the issues that affect them. They had a fear that this Trojan Horse—“stalking horse”, as it was described at the time—may eventually grow to a size and be accepted, by and large, by New Zealand society such that it could no longer be controlled. Scare tactics! I say to the member for Waiariki that the points he raised were very important because there seems to be a level of fear. Every time the name “Rodney” comes up, whether it be Rodney Hide in the chair, or the Rodney District Council, there is fear. The Government seems to go into fear mode. It starts to amend things to suit “Rodney”, be it the Minister in the chair or the Rodney District Council. As the member for Waiariki said, there is no need to fear Māori. We have a vested interest in the well-being of our communities and we insist—not want, but insist—that we make a valid contribution to the development of those communities.

I also acknowledge the contribution of my colleague Su’a William Sio. He did a very, very important thing. He focused his contribution to the debate on people—the voices of the people. He highlighted the communities of his area of Māngere. He highlighted the hapū and the iwi, and where they were from. He went through a list of iwi who occupy that particular area. It is very important that we do that. He was saying that these indigenous people, tangata whenua of certain tribal affiliations, have been speaking to the Government, but the Government has not been listening. When we put it in that context it becomes very, very important that people start to listen.

When we heard the submissions on the Bay of Plenty legislation we followed the same process. The voices of the hapū—the kārangarangatanga hapū of Te Arawa—had the opportunity to speak, and they were heard. The voices of all the hapū of Mātaatua, mai i Ngā Kurī a Whārei ki Tihirau, had the opportunity to speak, and they were heard. The hapū of the tribes of Tainui who occupied the north-western part of the Bay of Plenty also had the opportunity to express a view, and were heard. The tribes of Horotiu, which cover the top end of Ngāti Porou in the Bay of Plenty also made submissions and insisted that their concerns be raised, and their voices were heard. That is exactly the point: to acknowledge—putting aside the argument around the Treaty of Waitangi—that there is a tangata whenua voice. I listened to the Minister earlier on. I wonder whether he was being politically mischievous, because he kept raising the issue about the tangata whenua voice and the Māori voice in general, although I do not know why that is an issue for the Minister.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : It was a privilege to sit for part of the hearings in Auckland and to hear, time and time again, Aucklanders present thoughtful pieces and isolate a whole range of concerns they had about the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I was impressed with the Hon John Carter in the way he handled the discussion, the way he handled the submissions people were making, and the way he used good humour to engage us all in the process. It began to give a sense of assurance to Aucklanders that their voices will be listened to, but they were not. The promise was certainly given.

This is one of the most important constitutional moments for Auckland and, indeed, for local government in New Zealand. However, what has happened since then does not give credit to the fact that we are addressing important constitutional matters. So much that has happened since then belies the promises that were given and it does not deliver them. I think the Hon John Carter is now at the forefront of trying to say that they have listened and all of the promises that were made are in this legislation, but they are not. Speaker after speaker from this side has got up and shown example after example of how the people have not been listened to. Apart from the agreement on a unitary authority, there is no agreement on much else.

Throughout the day in this debate we will identify many of those kinds of things. Yes, we on this side agree that a unitary authority is what we want, but not at any cost. That is why we are arguing against much of what is here.

The process certainly has been flawed in more ways than one. I guess this comes through most in the Māori seats. What is so difficult that Mr Rodney Hide cannot understand, appreciate, or internalise that one of the defining characteristics of New Zealand society is that we have a Treaty and we have an indigenous culture? They have certain rights, and promises have been made, and in post-renaissance New Zealand that has to be respected. Much of the rhetoric about one person, one vote, etc., does not cut the mustard. Indeed, this Parliament has to take responsibility to address what Treaty relationships are all about. In the most classic sense, this is the bicultural relationship between the Crown and iwi Māori. The Minister may shake his head and use some other principle about “one person, one vote; let them go and compete on the open market and it will be fine”. That is what we have been doing since 1960 when Māori began to say that assimilation was not the answer. Then there was the Māori renaissance, and we are now post-renaissance. It means that in terms of what Māori want, and what submitter after submitter presented to the select committee in Auckland—and Mr Carter was listening to them day in and day out—there had to be Māori seats, and Māori had to be at the table, for all kinds of reasons.

Fundamentally, it was because they are the tangata whenua, there is a Treaty relationship, and we are in a post-renaissance New Zealand society. To put that to one side, I am really surprised that the National Party—a party that prides itself in saying that it will address the needs of Māori, and that is surviving with Māori at its side—here, on one of the most fundamental things for Māori, is putting that aside and is saying that this is not important. I am not impressed with any of the arguments that Mr Hide made about letting the councils decide. This is a constitutional issue, it arises from Treaty relationships, it is what Māori want, and all of the other language around fairness, and one person, one vote, is flimflam.

The same issues arise in other areas. Here we have a city with a huge Māori population. There are two iwi authorities being immersed and involved in contributing to what Auckland is. It is a great environment for tangata whenua in the sense that they represent their people and New Zealand. They showcase much of that. Why would we not want them to participate at the table where decisions are made? Most of those decisions are about their own people. Is it that Rodney Hide has been successful in driving his ideology? Essentially, his ideology is to reduce local authorities to concern with water, sewage, and things like that. But I say to Mr Hide that this is a community that is vibrant. This is a series of communities that live every day, and it is not just about roading, sewerage, or what have you. It is about the people who live there, and it is the participation of those people in their own governance that really is the hallmark of 21st century governance.

Why is this Government, with the ACT Party, so dismissive of that? My plea is a sincere one. I ask the Government to listen to what Aucklanders want, and listen to the demands of the 21st century. People will participate in their own lives in a meaningful way, so I ask Mr Hide why he will not give them the ability to do that. He may say that there is one person, one vote, and everything will be fine, but up until now it has not worked. It took Māori a long time before they entered into local authorities. The tangata whenua are asking for what is important to them. This is a Treaty-based relationship. This is everything that is good about our society, yet the Minister dismisses it and drives his own particular ideology about the role of local government. The expectations that people have is that this is what they want. Thank you.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : I will talk about the participation in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill by the member for Maungakiekie.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Who is he?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: He is Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, and he is one of the strong, silent types. He is very silent, but he is also on the Auckland City Council. I thought he would have had a big part to play in this debate. He would have seen it from both sides. But, no, we have not heard from that strong, silent type. Some of his colleagues tell me that he has not been in Panmure in months. Carol Beaumont has that all sewn up.

What we really want to know is what is going on in Maungakiekie. We have someone who is an Auckland City councillor who could contribute so much to this legislation, but he has been absolutely silent not only in this Chamber but also in the electorate. It is not surprising. I look around and I see two—no, it has gone up by 50 percent—three National MPs in the debating chamber. They are really concerned! This is the sort of contempt that the National Government has for this legislation. When we have a look, we see that people made submissions, and I think it is very important that when people make submissions their member comes to the Chamber and talks about them. I think that the people are being poorly served. Those people want their local boards to have more power, and the select committee has gone some way towards that. We are not sure exactly what those extra powers will be, but they will be a wee bit more than getting rid of the local rats and things like that.

Chris Tremain: Which particular rats are you talking about?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Well, when I talk about rats, I mean the National Party. I am sorry; I must apologise. National members should be here if they care. Why do those members not come into the Chamber and take a call? Of course they will not. They will not get up and say what will happen with wards or with community committees. I bet that the member for Maungakiekie will not say a thing. I would yield now if he came and asked for a call.

But of course he will not.

Hon Steve Chadwick: Are they listening?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: He is not listening. In the end, the people of Maungakiekie who voted for him have learnt their lesson. They will not vote for him next time. Carol Beaumont will be the MP for Maungakiekie because she has listened to people. She has found out what her community thinks. The member for Maungakiekie at the moment does not say a thing. He says very little at the Auckland City Council meetings when he bothers to attend them. He has worked out how many meetings he has to go to in order to collect his payment from Auckland City. He does barely the minimum. He comes down to the Chamber, hides in the National caucus, does nothing and says nothing, but collects the money. Some people say he is a double-dipper.

Here is a very important bill in which most Aucklanders are interested. How many Auckland National MPs are here in the Chamber? I must say that Dr Jackie Blue is here, and I think it is really good that she has turned up. I look around for others, but I would need binoculars to find them. I cannot see any Auckland National MPs ready to jump up and take a call. They are so arrogant that they are not listening. I ask them what we are going to have for wards.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : Like many Aucklanders of my generation, I first became aware of the tangata whenua of Auckland in 1978, when Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei occupied Bastion Point in protest at the plans of the then National Government, under Robert Muldoon, to turn Bastion Point into a bastion of high-income housing. I felt shock and horror as an Aucklander of the tender age of 15 or 16 at seeing the National Government of the day bring in the troops to evict protesters from Bastion Point.

During this speech I will draw on some comments made by Mērata Kāwharu of Auckland and of Ngāti Whātua, who wrote a very good op-ed piece in the New Zealand Herald a little while ago. She made the comment that the challenges facing Ngāti Whātua in 1840 were very similar to the challenges they face now, which are about recognition of their place in the community and acknowledgment of their roles and responsibilities. It is the mana whenua concept—the idea of authority over the traditional lands of the tribe and the exercising of rights and responsibilities. It is that recognition that looms very large for Ngāti Whātua in the debate over the super-city.

It is worth remembering that in 1840 Ngāti Whātua sent a delegation to Waitangi. Apihai Te Kawau sent a delegation to Waitangi because Ngāti Whātua were very concerned about the impact of the changing political and population situation at the time. Their response was to donate 3,500 acres of the best land—land that is now home to the people of Mount Eden, the central business district, Ponsonby, Herne Bay, and Newmarket. In 1841 a further 8,000 acres of land were transferred. Ngāti Whatua’s history since that founding act, which provided the land for the city of Auckland to be established, has really been one of a struggle to be recognised. In 1907 the Provincial Council made the decision to discharge raw sewage directly into the sea at Ōkahu Bay. In the early 1950s the papakāinga at Ōkahu Bay was forcibly removed and demolished, and the families who lived there—the community who lived at Ōkahu Bay—were resettled against their will up on the hill. The turning point was the decision made by Joe Hawke and his family to occupy Bastion Point in protest at this history. From then on we have seen some happier days. I urge members who have not read the Waitangi Tribunal report on Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei to do so. In the wake of the Waitangi Tribunal report, we saw Ngāti Whātua generously allowing publicly accessible land at Bastion Point to be jointly managed by them and the Auckland City Council. Some years later they gave a 50 percent discount on ground rent to allow the building of the Vector Arena.

I make these comments simply to make the point that Māori have made Tāmaki-makau-rau home since before the city was even thought of. They generously provided the land for the establishment of the city, but until the 1990s they were excluded from the governance of the city. New Zealand in the 21st century is a very different place. We know that our city needs to be inclusive and that, within a generation, 40 to 50 percent of the people of Auckland will be of Māori or Pacific descent. We know that if Ngāti Whātua, Tainui, and all the hapū and iwi who live in Tāmaki-makau-rau are not included fully in the civic life of our city, then Auckland will be a poorer place. The history is very clear: very few Māori have been elected to general seats in local government. We know that over 138 years in Auckland only eight councillors have ever been elected to general seats. The reality is that voters tend to vote for people like themselves. We need Māori at the top table. We know that, as a minority group, it is extraordinarily difficult for them to be elected. We know that Māori seats elected from the Māori roll have been an effective mechanism in this House.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : I would like to talk to my amendments to clause 9 set out on Supplementary Order Paper 55 in my name, which are to amend the powers of the mayor. Before I introduce them, I will outline the additional powers of the mayor under the model proposed in the bill and why we should care about these additional powers.

First of all, the mayor gets to choose his own deputy and all the chairs of committees, and indeed can appoint himself to be chair of any committee—and I use the words “his” and “himself” advisedly. In every other council that is not the case; the council votes on chairs and deputy mayors, which means that more consultation is required. The committee chairs and the deputy mayor have to work with the whole council in order to get support, which builds in a more consultative approach, whereas under the model proposed in the bill the committee chairs and the deputy mayor will be completely beholden to the mayor, who will choose them. Secondly, once the mayor has appointed all of the chairs and the deputy mayor, he will control the votes in the council. Once the mayor controls the votes in the council, he will then be able to whip through any agenda that he wishes. Then, on top of that, the mayor has the extraordinary powers in the bill to decide whether and how the council will consult with Aucklanders. The bill states that the mayor will “establish processes and mechanisms for the Auckland Council to engage with the people of Auckland, whether generally or particularly”, and later states that the mayor “must not delegate any of his or her powers”. So the mayor alone will decide on the consultation process.

If John Banks were to become mayor—and we learnt this morning on the radio that he has a campaign team of 600 people and huge amounts of funding; it will be interesting to find out how much funding—he will choose all of the key appointments, all the committee chairs, and they will all be beholden to him. He will control the whole inner cabal, the votes, and the agenda. He will be able to drive through his own agenda. If he decides, for example, that he wants to sell off a few assets—and we know that that is the underlying agenda of Rodney Hide and ACT; it is quite explicit in their local government policy—according to the principle in clause 9(3) of the bill he could choose not to bother to consult with Aucklanders.

I do not think that people have quite understood the implications of the powers of the mayor, and that is why I am so concerned about this issue. I have been a city councillor for 8 years, and for some of those I had the pleasure of having Mark Blumsky as mayor. He managed to get a majority on the council, and he rammed things through. Councillors who were outside the inner cabal were really impotent; there was nothing they could do. The executive had the power; it could drive through anything. Other councillors could jump up and down and protest, but the votes would be rammed through. So I think Aucklanders need to be aware of the implications of this bill, and particularly of the idea that the mayor is to decide on every mechanism for consultation with the people of Auckland.

I ask—and maybe the Minister could reply to this question—whether this clause overrides the provisions of the Local Government Act that set out very clearly the consultation mechanisms local councils must follow when they do anything significant, such as selling off an asset. Very clear powers are spelt out in the Local Government Act, and they apply to every council in New Zealand. But I ask the Minister of Local Government, Mr Hide, whether or not they apply here. Could the Minister answer this question? Do they not apply to the Auckland Council? Does the provision in clause 9(3) override the provisions of the Local Government Act? It certainly appears to do that. It seems that absolutely unilateral powers are given to the mayor to decide on the processes and mechanisms that the council will use to engage with the people of Auckland. Obviously, if the mayor decides that he does not want to consult with Aucklanders because he wants to sell off some assets or do something that he thinks might be unpopular, he has unilateral powers under this bill. That is why I have moved these amendments.

Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) : I took an earlier call and made a pretty accurate statement that perhaps, from time to time, the Minister of Local Government was involved in political mischief. I say that because I listened to an earlier call that he took, and he raised the issue—it was an issue for him, but not necessarily for the people of Auckland, particularly Māori—that when it comes to determining tangata whenua seats and determining Māori seats in terms of representation, there is a problem. Which way does one go? I find that to be nothing more than mischief. If we had used the same argument in the Bay of Plenty in 2001, we may never have resolved the issue. It was simply not an issue for us at that time in the Bay of Plenty. It was a matter Māori would resolve, as usual, by way of a number of hui around the rohe, in this case, Waiariki. To use what I call a wedge to separate Māori from Māori is nothing more than political mischief.

My colleague Phil Twyford raised some interesting points about the history of Auckland, particularly in relation to Ngāti Whātua and the trials and tribulations they have had to endure since colonisation. In particular, during the 1970s, and particularly in 1978 when Ngāti Whātua were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands at Ōrākei, or Bastion Point, as it is more commonly known. The very point that Ngāti Whātua have been trying to stress throughout this whole debate is that they do not want a repeat of Bastion Point when it comes to the very small assets they have remaining in their possession. Su’a William Sio raised the point about who the people of Auckland are, and he highlighted who they were. He made the point that their voice must be heard on the Auckland super-city council. There is no guarantee—regardless of the attempts by the Minister of Local Government to convince the House that there will be one—that at any time, once this bill is enacted, Māori will have a voice at the top table and not the bottom tables that have been referred to by the Minister and National members. That becomes a very, very important issue.

I go back again to the experiences of the Bay of Plenty during the discussions in 2000 and 2001 around the Environment Bay of Plenty legislation to ensure Māori representation. It was important to take time. Environment Bay of Plenty did take time; it took 9 years before the legislation came to this House, as I said earlier on. It was important to ensure that all groups were contacted, and they were given the opportunity to air their views. Earlier on, I highlighted the tribal confederations of Mātaatua, mai i Ngā Kurī a Whārei ki Tihirau, Te Arawa, mai i Maketū ki Tongariro. I also made mention of the interests of Tainui, Horouta, and Tākitimu on the peripherals of that area. We see, as I mentioned earlier on, that when we look at Māori through the eyes of who they are ancestrally, we get a completely different picture in terms of the value they bring to the top table. We get a different picture about the passion they have for the assets, the natural resources, and the environment of their areas. I do not think that, at any time in the past, any council have been able to say that Māori were at the top table making their concerns clear in terms of the matters I have raised today.

The chair of Environment Bay of Plenty, John Cronin, said it is working very well. He has at no time said the Māori members of Environment Bay of Plenty deal only with Māori issues specifically. They do not. In fact, if one goes to the Environment Bay of Plenty website, one will find that those Māori members head a number of subcommittees for Environment Bay of Plenty, such as the environment committee, the finance committee, and are involved in a whole lot of other committees. That is at the council level, but they also play a very important role on the ground in communities, making contact with the people who put them there to represent their views. That is what should happen in respect of Auckland City.

KELVIN DAVIS (Labour) : Tēnā nō koe, Mr Chair. It was great to hear the history lesson from my colleague Phil Twyford. I will extend that history lesson and put in a plug for my iwi of Ngāpuhi when it comes to mana whenua. Those of us who know our history will know that years and years ago our tupuna Kupe stopped off at Pōkeno and left a kōhatu, a rock, there. He claimed all the land from Pōkeno right up to Te Rerenga Wairua. Based on that, Ngāpuhi could claim all of Tāmaki and all of that area in between. It is really important that people know history, and that people know what went on back in those days. I do not want to throw a spanner in the works. I will not stand here and claim that—

Hon Mita Ririnui: Fooled me!

KELVIN DAVIS: I will stand up for Ngāpuhi, anyway. It is really important that people know our history.

I feel sorry for the Hon Tau Henare and the Hon Georgina te Heuheu. We know that they went out and batted for Māori seats on the council of the Auckland super-city. We know that they would have argued with their caucus members, and we know that in the end they were basically sidelined. It is really hard to be a brown peg in a square hole. I take my hat off to the Hon Georgina te Heuheu and the Hon Tau Henare, who went out and batted for the Māori people of Auckland, be they Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Ngāti Whātua, or wherever they come from. They went out and batted for them.

It was unfortunate we did not see those members on the hikoi. There were 7,000 people—7,000 Māori, Pākeha, Pacific Islanders. They all went out and marched, saying they wanted Māori seats. As I said earlier this morning, it is sad that although the Government says: “We listened. We listened. We listened.”, the evidence is there that it has not listened, because Māori do not have their seats.

I bring up the point that people of all ethnicities marched that day. That is really important, because if Māori have no voice on the Auckland super-city, then what hope do our brothers and sisters from the Pacific Islands, from India, from Asia, or wherever, have? If Māori, as tangata whenua, do not have a voice on the Auckland super-city council, what hope do other ethnicities have of having their points of view represented at a governance level in Auckland?

The whole issue of Māori being denied representation—Māori seats—on the council of the super-city also brings into question the integrity of the relationship between the National Government and our whanaunga in the Māori Party. While others are going out to bat for, and talking up, Māori seats on the council, the Māori Party members are distracted. They are sent off on a wild goose chase, they are sent down the garden path, to deal with issues such as a Māori flag. They are told to take four options for a Māori flag to 21 meetings over 3 months at marae across the country, and come back and tell the Government what the answer is. Would New Zealanders in general put up with that sort of process? Would New Zealanders say it is fine for somebody to take four versions of the New Zealand flag to community meetings in rugby clubs and community halls in places such as Hūkerenui and Broadwood, then come back and say: “Here, New Zealand; here’s a flag.”? The flag issue is a diversion and it also shows contempt. It is quite condescending and patronising. The Government told the Māori Party to go down the garden path while the Government deals with the real issue of Māori not having a voice in governance, a voice that would allow Māori to have a say in how their city is governed. It is patronising and it is condescending.

In 2002 my colleague Mita Ririnui was instrumental in introducing the Bay of Plenty Regional Council bill that allowed two Māori members—

Hon Mita Ririnui: Three.

KELVIN DAVIS: —three Māori members, excuse me—on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. As our colleague Moana Mackey pointed out, the world did not end.

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) : Kia ora anō tātou katoa. We know, obviously, that the Māori seats—or, at least, mana whenua seats—are an issue for this Parliament, and I want to continue around that theme and perhaps put some questions to the Minister in the chair, Rodney Hide, as I thought that his kōrero earlier this morning at least gave an overview as to where he is at.

In terms of the discussion of the Māori seats in Auckland governance, there was overwhelming support from the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. All the mana whenua groups in Auckland, the two major iwi groups in Auckland, 100 percent of the Māori submitters to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, 80 percent of the non-Māori submitters to that select committee, the majority of the Auckland councils, most of the Auckland mayors, and three of the five major parties in Parliament were in support of mana whenua seats. Hone Harawira told us last night that every intelligent political commentator in the country says it is OK to have mana whenua seats. In response, the Minister of Local Government has said that if the people of Auckland choose to have reserve seats—Māori seats, that is—they can do so under the Local Electoral Act. Indeed, the council itself can choose this if it wants to. Those are big ifs. The Minister suggested that if Māori really want separate seats, they should vote for mayoral candidate Len Brown as the first mayor of the united Auckland City.

If we get organised as a people we might be able to put up candidates and vote accordingly, but the track record suggests that it does not all happen like that. Despite all the support, the select committee elected not to recommend that the bill provide for Māori seats on the proposed Auckland Council. I suppose that the good thing about all those entities I mentioned earlier is that they accepted the notion that it is OK to have mana whenua seats—Māori seats. The royal commission accepted the principle, for goodness’ sake! That is what I was asking the Minister earlier this morning. I asked him to explain that he accepts the principle under the auspices of Te Tiriti o Waitangi that having mana whenua seats—not necessarily Māori seats—is appropriate in today’s world.

We in the Māori Party are obviously pretty disappointed that we have not been able to get our way, but we will continue to fight it through. But it calls into serious question the fundamental basis of the parliamentary democratic process, which should reflect decision making of the people and for the people. The Minister Mr Hide talked this morning about the complications of providing a mechanism that would best reflect his principles of, I suppose, one law for all. It seems to me that we have paid officials in and around Parliament whose job it is to come up with an idea and a system that best reflects that in practice. But we have to accept the principle first, and that is what I am asking the Minister to consider. I am asking him to accept the principle that it is OK according to Te Tiriti o Waitangi for Māori to have seats set aside as of right.

The Māori Party is not sitting back. To support our cause we are putting forward five Supplementary Order Papers to move forward the Auckland kaupapa in an inclusive way. The amendments start with what is the preferred position of mana whenua—that is, two mana whenua seats, with candidates selected by mana whenua and voted on by Māori—and go right across the forum, if you like, to the most limited option, which is that of one Māori seat. In the end, we are still looking for the opening that allows the Government to accept that principle. The five options that we will be presenting to the Committee are in the name of my colleague Hone Harawira, and they demonstrate that a number of options were presented to Cabinet, but that ultimately none was acceptable.

I will quickly go through some of the Supplementary Order Papers. The first would insert a requirement to provide for mana whenua representation on Auckland Council as required under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour) : Before I get into what I want to discuss, I point out that the Government decided that this matter was so urgent that we needed to deal with it under urgency, so I find it rather shocking that none of the Government members are standing to take calls. This is the second time the Government has put the House into urgency to deal with this particular issue. I find it rather concerning that none of the Government members finds it urgent enough for them to stand up and debate it robustly in the Chamber. I think the New Zealand public would be interested to know that those members do not find this issue is as urgent as they would like the public to think it is.

With that in mind, I would like to refer back to what the previous speaker, Te Ururoa Flavell, was talking about—Māori representation. I was part of the group that marched in support of Māori seats on the Auckland Council, and one thing struck me. I was left wondering why we continually have to have protests over things like that, when we would think that they would be automatically granted under the Treaty of Waitangi. The constant battle by Māori and others who support this request for Māori representation is completely unnecessary. What we will find is that, 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years down the track, Māori seats will be granted, and we will look back at this time and wonder why the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, made it so difficult. Why did he have to incite protests from the New Zealand public, when it was something that should have been granted in the first place? I look forward to that time. It may not be now; it may be 2 or 3 years down the track, it may be when the Labour Government is back in power, it may be 4 or 5 years down the track, but I look forward to the time when I can turn to Mr Rodney Hide and say: “Now the right thing has been done. Why didn’t you do it in the first place?’.

I want to touch on the voting system in respect of what is being pushed through in the bill. The bill proposes that first-past-the-post voting system be used to elect the mayor, councillors, and local board members, in spite of many submissions to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee saying that preferential voting would deliver fairer, more representative results. The concern that some people have expressed to me is that some of our people who are less politically savvy might struggle with a preferential voting system, but I think it is important that whatever voting system we implement, it is one that ensures that people’s votes actually count—that people place their votes and that they count. The last thing we want is a mayor who is elected by only 20 percent of the Auckland region. That would hardly be representative of what the Auckland region wants. We need a voting system that ensures that the votes of all Aucklanders count in some way.

Some people have talked to me about their concern that some people may find it difficult to understand what is required of them in respect of a preferential voting system. But there is nothing to stop Auckland from putting some sort of education system in place so that we can ensure that in the lead-up to the local elections Aucklanders are aware of how the particular voting system works. I cannot understand why, therefore, we are left with a voting system that could potentially give us a mayor who is elected by only 20 percent—perhaps even less—of the Auckland voting public. We on this side of the Chamber believe that ensuring that candidates win by majorities and that fewer votes are wasted will deliver more legitimacy and is likely to lead to increased voter participation.

Preferential voting—for instance, the single transferable vote system—also delivers more diverse representation. If the Government decides not to include Māori seats on the council, that issue becomes even more urgent, but it is also important to encourage candidates from other ethnic minorities, including Pasifika and Asian people, as well as from other important interest groups, like youth and the disabled.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : It is customary for the Minister in the chair to answer questions at the Committee stage when serious questions are raised of that Minister and requests are made to clarify genuinely significant issues. I have asked a genuine question of the Minister in the chair, Rodney Hide. I have asked him to explain whether the provision in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill to give the mayor powers to establish processes and mechanisms for the council to engage with the people of Auckland—in other words, to decide on all consultation that the Auckland Council has with Aucklanders—overrides all of the other consultation provisions in the Local Government Act. I really would appreciate the Minister’s answering this question. If he will not do so, I would appreciate Mr Carter, the Associate Minister of Local Government, answering it.

It was interesting that when I asked Associate Minister John Carter whether he could point out what provisions of the bill he said gave local boards autonomy and power, he was not able to, even though he has chaired the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee for weeks and months. He was not able to point to any such provision; he recommended that I go to the officials instead, which I did. Of course, the officials gave me exactly the information that I already knew, which is that the local boards will not have any local autonomy and powers.

I thought it might be worth raising a couple of further issues. First, what do the mayors of Auckland think of the amendments that have come through as a result of the select committee hearings? I also want to talk about the costs and benefits of this organisation. Well, Bob Harvey said, despite all of the spin, that unless the boards were given additional powers, the local boards would be little more than sewing circle meetings. In the meantime, the North Shore Mayor, Andrew Williams, says that the upshot, after all the consultation, “is an all powerful super Auckland Council, a super Mayor with even more power than before, 20 to 30 completely powerless local boards with no statutory powers or resources in their own right,”. He predicted: “It will only be a matter of time before communities realise that despite Rodney Hide’s lofty promises, their democratic right to decide local issues for their own local area now has passed to 20 Councillors in Queen Street who call all the shots.” He said: “There will certainly be a community backlash once local communities start approaching their new local boards for better services, only to be told that the best they can do is ‘advocate’ their case to the Auckland Council or to try to ‘plead’ their case for inclusion in the next Auckland Council LTCCP or annual plan,”. In other words, he predicts that once they work out that the local boards really have no powers, despite “all the government spin and double-speak,” there will be a backlash in the community. I am sure that that is the case.

The other issue I would like to raise concerns the benefits and costs of this huge restructuring. There has not been a regulatory impact statement of what the costs and benefits are to Aucklanders. That is odd, because the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, is also the Minister for Regulatory Reform. One of the things he goes on and on about is the need to be absolutely aware of the costs and benefits of proposed legislation. So what are the costs and what are the benefits? I notice that nobody is suggesting that one of the benefits will be lower rates, because we know that there will be increased rates. We also know that all of the costs of restructuring will be borne by the Auckland ratepayers. They will be whacked with this huge bill, once the Auckland Council is set up, for a new council that most Aucklanders oppose.

We need to understand the magnitude of what has happened. We had seven well-functioning, autonomous, democratically elected councils. They have been wiped out and replaced with this super-council, which will represent 1.4 million people—I think about 800,000 voters. It will probably be the largest council in the world. Then we have 20 to 30 rather tiny, fragmented local boards, which will be completely subservient to the council. What is the benefit of this huge restructuring?

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I am pleased to see that at least the Green Party raises serious issues; I will answer them. Sue Kedgley said that the local boards will not have autonomous decision-making powers, and she cited clause 13D and the exceptions to this. Clause 13D states that decisions on non-regulatory activities should be exercised by local boards, unless Auckland-wide decisions will better promote the well-being of Auckland communities. The key thing here is that the default is that local boards will make such decisions. This too should also be read in the context of the rest of the bill’s provisions, which include clause 13C, which provides that local boards are responsible and democratically accountable for non-regulatory decision-making; that they have the ability to propose by-laws—that provision is from clause 13K—and that they have the funding that provides for equitable capacity for local boards to enhance the well-being of their communities. In fact, it is those provisions that saw the President of New Zealand Community Boards, Mr Mike Cohen, come out in such good support for the work that the Government has done—first, in providing for the second tier of local boards, and, indeed, in powering them up.

Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour) : I rise to speak particularly to the amendments to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill relating to Māori representation on the Auckland super-city. I have grave concerns about the failure of the bill to address that issue. My concerns stem not simply from the rejection of Māori representation as a fitting issue in the consideration of a new super-city; my primary concern is about the poverty-stricken vision that it represents from this Government for the largest city in New Zealand and its future. This is not a vision going forward for New Zealand; this is a poverty-stricken “back to the past” vision for Auckland City and its place in Aotearoa.

We have come a long way from the days of Bastion Point that my colleague Phil Twyford traversed so eloquently earlier. I remember those days well myself, albeit I was a bit older than him at the time. However, the exclusion of Māori representation on the body that is to run the biggest and most dynamic city in this country, which was my home for 27 years, is a narrow, introspective, and regressive action. We need to present to the world a different kind of super-city. We need to present to the world something unique that is Aotearoa New Zealand, and excluding Māori representation does not take us there. It is a poverty-stricken vision, it does not recognise the legitimacy of the claims of Māori to be represented at the top table, and it does not model alternative governance structures for the future of our country.

I would like to refer to Alasdair Thompson’s article. Alasdair Thompson, from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), said the Auckland super-city was on track bar two recommendations. He said: “They are the absence of seats reserved for elected Maori representatives on the Council, and the shifting of the northern boundary of the city’s region.” The shifting of the northern boundary has been remedied by this Government, after pressure from the public. But he says about the absence of seats reserved for elected Māori representatives: “We cannot understand that. There’s no sense in it.” He went further in the New Zealand Herald to do an entire article, an opinion piece, about why Māori representation needed to be at the governance table, and it was about exercising authority.

If Alasdair Thompson from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) gets it, why does this Minister not get it? Alasdair Thompson has the courage to plot forward a way for a dynamic future for New Zealand and for the Auckland super-city, by representing the view that joint representation at the governance table is essential. Not only is it essential to the progress, life, and development of the Auckland super-city but it is essential as a point of difference, as a mark that says to the rest of the world there is a unique city here that is not replicated anywhere else in the world, and it is represented in this way by its governance structure. That is not a hard ask. Even on purely pragmatic grounds about the economic point of difference for tourism, the attractiveness of the city, and the attractiveness of New Zealand, it is not a hard ask. But when we layer on to that lack of representation of Māori at the governance level the very profound grievance that it will create, we have a recipe for disaster. We have a recipe for ongoing aggravation in a city that ought to be stepping up and proving itself to be a city of the future. However, we do not have a Minister who is prepared to wear that.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) : Kia ora tātou, nō reira e te Whare, e ngā iwi, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e whā. While the House sits in urgency Auckland’s National members of Parliament sit on their bums. I should say “bottoms”; I withdraw and apologise for using that language. But they sit there, and I issue a challenge to them to get up on their hind legs and take a call. Kia kaha! Be strong and take the challenge to rise and defend this legislation, because this legislation needs to be defended. The House is sitting in urgency. It is a constitutional outrage. For the Auckland members of Parliament not to stand to take a call to justify what they are doing shows contempt for the people who voted for them. They are not taking a call.

I challenge the Prime Minister, John Key, to take a call. I challenge Steven Joyce to take a call. I challenge the Hon Murray McCully to take a call. I challenge the Hon Wayne Mapp to take a call. I challenge the Hon Jonathan Coleman to get up to take a call. I challenge the Hon Paula Bennett to get up to take a call. I challenge the Hon Pansy Wong to get up to take a call. I challenge the Hon Judith Collins to get up to take a call. I challenge the Hon Maurice Williamson to get up to take a call. They are all members of the executive. But that is not to let those who are not on the executive get away scot-free. What about Sam Lotu-Iiga? Why has he not stood up to take a call? He is the silent giant, they say; he has not taken a call. Then there is Kanwaljit Bakshi. He is sitting here. I challenge him to stand up to take a call to justify what the Government is doing.

This legislation is legislatively flawed, it is democratically flawed, and the people of Greater Auckland are absolutely floored. This bill, I guarantee members, will be back before Parliament before the next general election. I have no doubts about that. The Associate Minister of Local Government, who is sitting in the chair, is nodding his head. He knows that the legislation is being rushed through, that it is not being done democratically. We need to sit down and debate it in ordinary time so that it is done properly.

I turn now to the number of councillors. The number of councillors is set at 20. Obviously, the issue perplexes the Government, and it also perplexes me. The fact that there are only 20 indicates to me an inability on the part of the Government to recognise that bigger is not necessarily better. The number of councillors proposed is 20, and that will produce wards of approximately 49,000 voters with a population of about 70,000—70,000! That means two things and I see two difficulties. First of all, it will be difficult for candidates to campaign effectively. The size of the wards that the councillors are supposed to represent is almost on a par with the area that a member of Parliament represents. It has to be asked how people can campaign effectively and do the job properly. I think the size of the wards will also undermine the accessibility and the accountability of the councillors. The wards are too big; the councillors will not be able to get around them and they will not be able to do the job. I ask the Associate Minister how the candidates can campaign effectively. Will they become like central government members of Parliament?

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : That was a brilliant speech from the member for Manukau East, Ross Robertson. I say “Well, done, Ross.” to him. I want to re-emphasise the position of Labour in regard to Māori seats, and then I will talk a little about our position on the mayoral position. Then I will get on to the Pacific Advisory Board, which we are putting forward in an amendment.

Hon Tau Henare: Advisory board!

SU’A WILLIAM SIO: It is important, I say to Mr Henare. The Pacific communities throughout Auckland were prepared to put on hold their ambition to be included at the top table, so that they could include and advocate for Māori first and foremost. It was the strong feeling of Pacific communities in the Auckland region and throughout this land of ours that unless the Government got it right for Māori, it would never get it right for Pacific and other minority groups. So it was important that we unite to advocate strongly to ensure that Māori are part of the top table of the Auckland Council.

Those members who did not have the opportunity to listen to the submissions would have missed out on the sea of emotion and passion that people displayed. I myself was quietly surprised to find that those who submitted in support of Māori seats were mainly Pākehā. About 60 percent of those submitters said that it was time, that the super-city was a new beginning, and that it was important for the Government to be more visionary and to provide strong leadership for the rest of the nation to follow.

I will give members a quote from one of the submitters. Jill Greer from Beachhaven on the North Shore submitted on only two issues, the water supply and the Treaty of Waitangi. The first thing she said was “Any form of water supply should never be privatised.” The second thing she said, with regard to the Treaty of Waitangi, was “There is no mention at all of the legal obligation to recognise the Treaty by insisting that at least four seats on any council are allocated to Māori and that other minority groups must be officially recognised.” I have another quote, from Robyn Laing. Again, it gives members a bit of a taste of the overwhelming support for Māori seats. Robyn Laing from Mount Eden in Auckland said: “It is imperative that there is Māori representation on the council. We are in partnership with the tangata whenua.” All the members on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee would have heard those submissions and would have felt the passion, the love, the desire that for Pākehā, for Pasifika, and for Māori the super-city was a new beginning, and we ought to include Māori on the council.

I will share with members an excerpt from the submission made by Ngāti Whātua. I think it is important that people hear it. They said: “The simple truth of the matter is that the present system has not delivered Māori councillors in Auckland City local government, particularly mana whenua councillors. Auckland has had an Auckland City Council since 1851 and there has never been a Ngāti Whātua councillor in any of those 158 years. To the best of our knowledge there has never been any mana whenua councillor in Auckland City. We acknowledge that since the 1960s there have been occasional and intermittent taura here councillors. We can identify eight taura here altogether over the 158 years, but that is in the context where Auckland City has usually had 19 or 21 councillors sitting on any 3-year term council.” I think that is another point that people need to understand. Ngāti Whātua also said in its submission: “The contribution which Māori make to Tāmaki-makau-rau is very substantial and has always been so. Think of the acts that first created the city of Auckland in the first place: the invitation for Hobson to come here and bring his Government, and the transfer of lands to enable all that to occur. Think further, in the case of Ngāti Whātua o Orākei, of the other contributions that they have made and continue to make to this city. To keep it very local, look at the spaces available to the public at Orākei”—

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : I want to bring something completely new into this debate: Pansy Wong. I have not heard from the Hon Pansy Wong in this debate at all. In fact, I do not think I have heard her speak since she was re-elected. I have not heard her since she got into Cabinet. It is interesting to note that there are only a couple of National members here. We have—

Hon John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. As you know, the member has been here long enough to know that one cannot refer to the absence of members. I would ask you to ask him to correct that.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I am very pleased to see some National members here—very, very pleased. It does not take long to count them up. There are one, two from Auckland. We have two from Auckland. I am interested to see that Dr Jackie Blue, who sat on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, is here. She has been about as active as the statue of King Dick out in Parliament grounds is. In reality, the National members are not taking calls now, and we have to ask why they are not. I think they are treating this Parliament with contempt.

I challenge Pansy Wong to come here to the Chamber as the member for Botany, and to say something. She does not say anything about women’s affairs, yet half the population of Auckland are women. One would think that she would be here to represent the viewpoint of women in Auckland, but is she? Not at all. I think that Pansy Wong should be ashamed of herself. I challenge her to take the next call, to get up and have a go, because she also represents a group of people who are a big and significant part of South Auckland: the Asian community. We know that the National Government is not acknowledging, working for, and speaking on behalf of Pacific Islanders. The member for Maungakiekie, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, is not saying a thing. We have Pansy Wong, on behalf of Asians, not saying a thing.

On looking around the Chamber I have to say it is great that this Parliament has someone like Su’a William Sio to represent the Pacific Island community and the Māngere electorate. He is not too scared to get up and say what really matters. You see, these people will lose representation when the changes come in—the Pacific Island group, the Asian group—and where are those members? Where is the member for Maungakiekie? Where is the member for Botany? They should be jumping up immediately and having a say, defending people and defending the bill. Well, perhaps it is a big ask; one cannot defend the indefensible. Maybe that is why those members are not having a say.

But in reality, when we look at wards, we see it is possible—and, I suspect, highly likely—that the National Government will go for big wards, because that will suit its purpose better than having wards where Pacific Islanders, Asians, and Māori people could get in. My electorate has more Māori people in it than any other general seat, and they are disappointed that the National Government has turned its back on the Māori people. I blame John Key for that. John Key and his Government have a Minister like Pansy Wong, who says nothing, just nods her head, and lets things go through. When you come to Parliament, you come to represent your people, and you cannot do that from your Beehive office. When you are the Minister of Women’s Affairs, you cannot do that job by saying very, very little. You have to be upfront in defending the rights of women in Auckland.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): Before I take the next call, I would remind members that the Chairperson does not do much. The references to “you” are out. I do not sit in a Beehive office doing those things.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : I want to make some comments about representation—

Hon Ruth Dyson: Is no National Party person taking a call?

PHIL TWYFORD: It seems that the members on the other side of the Chamber are not interested in this debate and do not place a very high priority on it.

Hon Ruth Dyson: No Auckland MPs.

PHIL TWYFORD: Very few Auckland MPs; they seem to have given up entirely on this debate. But we will press on, because issues of representation are fundamental to the super-city project and fundamental to democracy. If the rules are not fair, if they are not seen to be balanced, transparent, and fair, and if every person in Auckland, every neighbourhood, every community, does not have an equal say in the affairs of the city, then that is not democratic. It will certainly mean that the overriding objective of increasing participation in civic engagement will not be met.

The Government got off to a bad start in this area, with its proposal for at-large councillors. It is absurd to expect individual candidates for the Auckland Council to stand in an electorate of 1.4 million people and 5,000 square kilometres. The public reaction to that proposal, which presumably came from the Minister of Local Government, was overwhelmingly negative. The Government has claimed that it is listening, that it has backed down and done a U-turn on that idea, but it is clear from the bill, it is clear from the commentary, that it is attempting to achieve the same objectives through the back door, with its idea of multi-member wards that are almost 2.5 times bigger than a parliamentary electorate. It is at-large elections through the back door. It is clear that the wards will be so big that they will undermine fair representation, and many communities in Auckland simply will not be represented. One ward will be the size of some of the existing cities, and will likely have three representatives. That is an unacceptable local government ratio of representatives to citizens. The submitters to the select committee process were strongly against at-large councillors. I think if we re-opened the select committee hearings now, we would find that the submitters would be equally against multi-member wards, which create very, very large electorates. People wanted fair representation, and they wanted their councillors to be directly accountable to local communities.

In the same vein, Labour believes that the number of councillors proposed for the Auckland Council is too small. Twenty councillors for a city of 1.4 million people is inadequate. It is just not enough. It means that there will be approximately one councillor for 49,000 Auckland voters. To remedy that, Labour has tabled an amendment that would push up the number of councillors to 25. That is one of a number of measures Labour is proposing in this debate, in order to create a more representative, fairer, and more balanced model for the new super-city.

As well as introducing more councillors, the best thing this bill could do is to implement the single transferable vote (STV) system of voting for the Auckland Council, at all levels—for the mayoralty, for the council, and for the local boards. It is just one of a number of flaws in this bill that the Government has chosen to adopt the first-past-the-post voting system. One of my colleagues mentioned earlier that there is a pattern in Auckland City of mayors being elected on around 20 percent of the vote, under first past the post. This Government is proposing to use the same voting system in the Auckland super-city to elect the mayor of the new structure for one-third of our country’s population. It is proposing to load up the super-mayor with extra powers, under a voting system that will probably deliver a mayor who attains only 20 percent of the vote. What kind of legitimacy, what kind of popular mandate, will that mayor have under the new system? Not very good, I suggest. The STV voting system is clearly fairer. By definition, under STV every vote counts. Therefore, it is likely to increase the level of civic engagement with the political process. STV has a track record of delivering greater diversity in terms of minority representation.

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) : Tēnā koutou katoa. My colleagues from the Green Party have spoken with eloquence about the reasons why we are opposing the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I totally agree with the points made by Sue Bradford, who spent many hours on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and also the experienced perspective of Sue Kedgley, who has spent many years in local government politics. I also agree with Keith Locke, an Auckland MP of many years’ standing, who has spoken clearly on the key issue of the single transferable vote being a better model for any new council.

I want to speak strongly today on the issue of Māori seats as a central point in the debate. I spent 3 days on the select committee, which was a very valuable experience. This was not only because I appreciated working with more experienced MPs on that committee. I also appreciated the leadership of the Hon John Carter as chair, and also the work of the officials. I appreciated working with Nikki Kaye, who asked just about as many questions of individual submitters over those 3 days as I did. She showed a genuine interest in the community group submitters as well. Maybe MPs can congratulate themselves on a well-run event, but I do not think the submitters were quite so happy. My brief conversations with a number of groups, after they gave their submissions, included comments like “ridiculously brief opportunity”, “we feel patronised”, and “give us Māori seats”. Many of them marched on the hīkoi, to no avail, as did the Green Party.

In addition to a number of issues that were repeatedly raised by submitters, there was the issue of absolute assurance that the assets of the Auckland region would not be privatised or further alienated from the control of citizens. It has been said that the Local Government Act protects those assets, but this legislation does not clarify or explicitly recognise the people’s concerns about this matter, which were consistently raised during the select committee. The people wanted it spelt out in this new governance arrangement, and they did not get it.

Mainly I want to speak about the political and constitutional opportunity lost for Tāmaki-makau-rau and the country as a whole. The mana whenua and Māori seats were recommended by the royal commission, and they were supported by a huge number of submitters. These submitters included a wide diversity of groups, many of whom supported the calls of tangata whenua for Māori seats. I was particularly interested in the tauiwi and other Pākehā groups who supported this call. I will give a short sample of the roll call when I was present at the select committee for a short time over those 3 days. As somebody mentioned earlier, Alasdair Thompson from the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) Inc., an organisation not known for its support for tino rangatiratanga, was present, and took a strong stand. Also present were representatives from the National Council of Women, the Auckland City Youth Council, the Ponsonby Economics Study Group, the Tamaki Community Board, the Auckland Regional Council, the Auckland branch of Grey Power, and the Cook Islands Community Forum. The Cook Islands Community Forum representatives were particularly notable, as were the other Pasifika groups, for their strong support for mana whenua and the rights of tangata whenua, as people whom they saw had mana whenua status and who would support them in their struggle for representation, but who came first as the first people of Aotearoa. Then there were the universities and the Auckland University of Technology. Many, many individuals over those 3 days supported Māori seats. In other words, 80 percent of the tauiwi submissions supported Māori seats.

At that point I felt heartened that I live in a country where progress is being made, only to find the legislation has failed the people. Māori, or mana whenua, seats on any council are not an accurate reflection of the rights affirmed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi; they are just a start. Tau Henare made good reference to the historical reasons for Māori seats. Since 2001 Environment Bay of Plenty has had Māori seats, as Mita Ririnui has said. It solves by no means all of the political issues for tangata whenua of that rohe, but it is a start, and the Green Party supported that legislation at the time. But now that Māori seats have been suggested for Auckland, they could have been a useful step towards a better governance model for Tāmaki.

It was more than poignant to hear Ngārimu Blair from Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei speaking on Back Benches the other night of how his tūpuna would have been shocked to see him standing there in a bar, talking about being refused a seat at the table of governance. His tūpuna would have been shocked because his tūpuna had allowed Pākehā access to much of the land in Tāmaki, and now their mokopuna are today begging for a seat at a table of governance, in a city built on whenua belonging to those people. What about Ngāti Te Ata, Tainui, Kawerau a Maki, Te Waiōhua, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, as well as Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei—me ngā hapū katoa of Tāmaki—not to mention Ngā Hau E Whā whānau?

Sometimes an idea, like Māori seats in Tāmaki, reaches a critical mass with support from a wide range of people. In 2009 it was time for this positive step. Everyone was ready to support an option, even if people were not sure how many seats, whether mana whenua or Māori roll, or how it would play out. The communities were ready to acknowledge that Western democracy needed modification for a Pacific reality and as a step towards a te Tiriti relationship. The people were ready, but the Government denied them. Many of them stood on Takaparawhau in 1978. I stood there 6 months pregnant with the hope that my child would live in a just, Treaty-based society. But that child is now 30 years old and we are not there yet.

I remember Simon Bridges saying on the select committee that he got elected and that he has Māori whakapapa, which proves that we do not need the seats. But did he campaign as a member of his hapū seeking to advance tino rangatiratanga to the people of Tauranga? Was that the public platform that he campaigned on in his electorate? Then we have Ray Ahipene-Mercer on the Wellington City Council, who opposed Māori seats. But he admitted that he could not get elected by campaigning on Māori issues. He could only get elected by campaigning on environmental issues. Enough said. One cannot get there by being who one is. One cannot get there by representing one’s hapū. One can only get there by acting as an individual. That is the Westminster system, and it does not work. We are in Aotearoa. It is time to recognise te Tiriti. It is time to modify our democracy in a step towards the 1840s agreement.

People were really clear in their submissions. They were really passionate. They were really diverse. So it is incredibly disappointing to see the Minister and the Government fail the people on this issue. Many of us walked in the rain on the hīkoi with an expectation that the new inclusive Government would be more flexible. As the people said on that hīkoi: “Ka whawhai tonu mātou, ake, ake, ake.” If members do not know, that means: “We will fight on for ever.” The people will fight on for ever, because they have not been heard.

The Green Party is very, very disappointed that a select committee that promoted reasonableness has failed the critical test in our time. It is not often that this country is prepared to step up on this issue. God knows, I know, having worked as a Treaty educator for the last 25 years, how hard it has been to get Pākehā to step up. And when they step up what does the Government do? When they step up they are ignored. The passion of all those communities has been trashed, and it is being trashed again before this Committee today.

I say again to those people out there: do not give up. We will not be giving up. The Green Party will certainly not be giving up. Ka whawhai tonu mātou, ake, ake, ake. Kia ora.

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Labour—Te Atatū) : I rise to speak against this legislation. I feel that I can bring some experience to this debate, having been the Minister of Local Government between 2002 and 2005. [Interruption] Thank you very much, Mr Hawkins, for those kind words. Indeed, the Local Government Act, which I guess will be the overriding document to fit this legislation around, currently stands in my name. So I have quite a passionate interest in this legislation. I am also an Aucklander, which will have a direct impact on my life, and on where I live, and on the communities of Te Atatū, Henderson, Kelston, Massey, and Glendene, which I represent in this Parliament.

It was the Labour Government that set up the royal commission to look at Auckland governance. In the 3 years that I served as the Minister of Local Government, I had a very frustrating experience at times dealing with myriad conflicting ambitions among the seven Auckland territorial authorities, especially around the issue of transport organisation, which is so critical for our city. The Labour Government recognised that some improvement needed to take place in the governance structures of Auckland. Indeed, almost every local body politician one spoke to in the Auckland region agreed with that. It was just about finding a way forward. The royal commission was set up, it went through an exhaustive process, it had lots of excellent submissions, it had great participation from the public, and it came out with a report. But what did the new Government do with it? It adapted it to suit its own agenda. That is why the Labour Party cannot accept the bill as it stands before the Parliament. Catherine Delahunty from the Green Party spoke for about 10 minutes about her passion, her determination for the Green Party to see Māori representation in Auckland.

We have had lots of speeches about that today, and I want to compliment my colleague Phil Twyford and his team, who have been so active in giving the Labour Party’s point of view on this legislation, and why we cannot support it. They have also touched on the critical aspect of having all of Auckland’s communities—

Hon Darren Hughes: He’s emotional.

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes, because I care about the city I live in. I care about the communities that are there. I care about the diversity of the city, and how it will be represented as this new super-city. It is really important that “local” means local, that the Māori community and the other communities of Auckland have a say and a participation in how their city is governed, and that they have a say in what happens in regard to the many rules that are made in that city and that impact on their lives.

I heard Mr Hide this morning on National Radio saying that one vote means one vote for all. Of course, the reality is not quite as simple as that. I know that in the 3 years that I was Minister of Local Government one of the issues I was very concerned about then—and Local Government New Zealand said it was concerned about it—was the under-representation of Māori people in local government. There are very, very few Māori elected to community boards, to councils, and as mayors—very few. The reality is that there are barriers to participation. Those barriers are about having the resources to stand; they are about having the widespread appeal to the population. It is a reality.

It is no good to wring one’s hands in here, or come up with populist nonsense on Radio New Zealand as Rodney Hide did this morning, saying that one vote means one vote for all. That is not the reality. We recognise that in this Parliament. We have set aside designated Māori seats. We have done that for over 100 years because we have said that the role and status of the original people of this land—the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand—is such that they have a special status. We are all equal, yes, but it does not mean that we are all the same. The reality is that Māori have, first of all, a unique constitutional position in New Zealand as represented in this Chamber with separate Māori seats, but also the reality is that the 16 percent of the population that is of Māori heritage does face barriers to participation in local government. That is the reality. We can just look at the statistics.

Why would we not have Māori seats in Auckland? Why would we not give an opportunity where people are elected to stand as councillors in the new Greater Auckland Council to participate in that council, and compete equally in those seats against other candidates for designated Māori seats? It would absolutely improve the participation and involvement of tangata whenua in Auckland. We want everybody else to be participating as well. Progressive councils in Auckland have already set out to implement one of the ways to do that. In Waitakere City, where I live, we have the Waitakere Ethnic Board, which provides a voice and representation for the many emerging communities in Waitakere city that trace their heritage to Asia, to the Middle East, to Africa, to Latin America. We also have a Pacific Advisory Board and a Māori advisory board, all of which have an active role in shaping how Waitakere City decides on policies and programmes that impact on the lives of the citizens of all those communities who live in our city.

On that basis I would like to support the amendment put up by my Chinese colleague from the Labour Party, Raymond Huo, who proposes to set up by amendment an Asian Advisory Board as part of this legislation. I know that Raymond Huo will not be wanting just an Asian Advisory Bard; he will be hoping that we have a Pacific one. I would rather see Māori councillors, but if we are not going to see that at the moment—we hope we might in the future—at least let us have a Māori advisory board, as well. This is all about participation. It is about really putting the “local” into local.

I see the Minister in the chair at the moment is Pansy Wong, who was New Zealand’s first Kiwi of Chinese heritage to be elected to our Parliament. She is not the only one, of course; we have Raymond Huo from Labour, now. I am wondering how Miss Wong feels about this Asian Advisory Board. She and I are matched together all over New Zealand at ethnic events, because for 6 years I was the Minister for Ethnic Affairs and I am still the spokesman for Labour. I have heard her say so often since the election: “We want real participation for Asian New Zealanders, a real voice in shaping how New Zealand develops.” I have to say to Miss Wong that here is her chance to actually do something about that. I ask her to support Raymond Huo’s amendment to set up an Asian Advisory Board. She has talked so often in the last 6 months about real participation and real decision-making by Asian New Zealanders, and here is her chance to actually do something about that. Here is her chance to say: “Right, I went against the National Party. I said that Raymond Huo is right; it is about participation. It is about putting the ‘local’ back into local government, and I voted for his amendment.” Of course, we all know that she is not going to do that, because she so often has proven in the 6 months she has had the job that she is just a mouthpiece for National’s policies.

The thing I am really worried about is Auckland’s assets. Some of our cities like Manukau City and Waitakere City have been vigilant about guarding our assets. The ratepayers through their council ownership have the port company and they have some airport shares left. I ask Mr Twyford how many billion dollars of assets there are in Auckland at the moment.

Phil Twyford: Twenty-eight.

Hon CHRIS CARTER: There are $28 billion of assets in Auckland at the moment. I wonder whether for Mr Hide and his greedy little ACT Party of exploiters and profiteers—we know them so well from the 1980s and 1990s, do we not—it is actually $28 billion worth of Auckland assets that this is all about. Is it not strange that Auckland is to be amalgamated into a sort of greater Reich, but Wellington, with its myriad of councils, is not to be touched? I wonder whether that has a lot to do with the $28 billion worth of assets. Mr Key made a promise that he would not sell any assets in the first term of a National Government. No such promise has been made about local body assets. I wonder whether Auckland, with its beautiful little treasure chest of $28 billion worth of local assets, is really what Mr Hide and his mates are after.

This legislation is fatally flawed. It has been rammed through under urgency. Here we are in urgency again this week going through this process. It defies and goes against the bulk of submissions that the public made to the royal commission. It defies the royal commission in a number of critical ways; one of them, which I guess is the most important and symbolic, is the Māori wards. My colleague Mr Twyford just talked about the small number of councillors—that is another really important issue.

JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) : It is my pleasure to rise and give a contribution to the Committee of the whole House on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, as it relates specifically to a group of people who I think have been under-represented in this debate, and who I feel will continue to be under-represented if this bill passes in its current form. The group that I am speaking about comprises 37 percent of Auckland’s population. It is a huge and disenfranchised group, and it is Auckland’s young people. I rise to give my contribution in support of their plight, which they put before the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee.

Before I do that, I will talk about the reasons why it is so important that we give a voice to young people in Auckland. I am not the only person who saw the value of doing that. The royal commission also saw the value of adding greater weight to young people’s voices in the super-city. In fact, it was Rowe who was cited in the royal commission’s report as stating of young people “… their particular needs and interests can slip out of focus in the usual planning and priority-setting processes. All stakeholders wrestled with the question of how to get these voices heard, with most preferring a means of bringing them into the decision-making process—a step further than consultation.” I think the commission made its expectations very clear. It set them out not only for the Government but also for all members of the House. It is now the Government’s responsibility to make those words meaningful. Unfortunately, I fear that that has not happened to date.

I think that the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, according to what I have read and heard, received compelling submissions from the youth sector. Amongst those who contributed were the collective of youth councils and youth forums, which is a strong body in Auckland, ranging from the North Shore to Waitakere, Auckland City itself, Manukau, and other cities. The select committee received submissions from Youth Law, which submitted not once but twice at the request of members of the select committee, who saw much value in what that organisation presented. The Auckland youth - directed environmental organisation also gave its views, as did many, many more organisations. These were not just words on paper; they were not simply submissions penned by one person at a computer late at night. They were submissions that were generated after consultation with a wide group of young people—young people who felt compelled to give their views on this significant issue in a way that we have not seen before. They held council meetings, open forums, and consultation processes. They talked not only to their peers but also to those in senior positions around them who could guide them on how to best ensure that their voices were heard.

The engagement from the youth sector was genuine, and it deserved a genuine response from this Government and from this House. I fear that at the time of presenting the submissions some of those submitters did not always get the respect they deserved, but each submitter advocated for one simple purpose. Submitters did so in different ways, but they submitted for one simple purpose: that their role in the super-city be legislated for. They did not ask for a tokenistic nod in their direction. They did not ask to be acknowledged as a special-interest group that would be consulted from time to time. They asked that 37 percent of Auckland’s population be given a voice at the table, and they did so in a very considered way—and, why?

Why is it necessary that this particular group of people not be treated like a special-interest group, as the current legislation does? Why do they deserve more than that? As the Government should acknowledge, young people are a huge group. We have already covered that point. Young people have a limited ability to engage in the political process. They cannot vote locally unless they have reached the age of 18, yet a large number of them are affected by the decisions that are made, although they have no formal say in the process. And young people are currently under-represented when they can vote. I ask the Government how many young people will be elected via this uber ward - based system, which means that councillors will be in charge of very large wards. How many young people will be elected through that process? I venture to suggest that there will be very, very few. Beyond that we have the additional international obligations provided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is also the additional uncertainty that the existing youth councils and forums face in the transitional process. Those are all reasons why young people deserve to have a seat legislated for them at the table.

I want to talk about what my Supplementary Order Paper does to remedy the fact that the Government’s response to young people has been tokenistic at best. They have been told that they are a special-interest group and nothing more than that, so I put it to the Government that it has the opportunity to support, in a genuine way, the call made by these young people by supporting my Supplementary Order Paper. It is very simple. My amendments mirror the structures that have been set in place by the Government, with a council and local boards. It establishes parallel bodies. At the top layer there is a youth council, which will have a representative from each of the territorial areas. These youth representatives will be selected by territorial youth forums covering areas that mirror the local board areas, the idea being that young people would therefore have a formal way to come together and have input into the work of the local boards and of the Auckland Council. We have also requested that these structures be afforded all of the relevant support required in order to ensure that they can function appropriately. I tried to ensure that my Supplementary Order Paper means that the greatest possible number of children and young people can participate in the process, and that the local boards have a ready and easy-to-use structure through which to engage with the 37 percent of their populations that are young people whom they purport to represent.

I see no reason why the Government should have any qualms with regard to supporting my Supplementary Order Paper and, therefore, supporting the young people of Auckland generally. Why do I feel so much confidence that the Government will support my Supplementary Order Paper? Well, it supported every submission that came before it in the select committee. At this point I extend a challenge to the Government, and more specifically to the youngest member of the select committee, Ms Kaye. She is young, and as a Government member of the select committee she also heard the submissions from these young people. She supported their submissions, and reassuring nods were given across the table when they talked about legislating for youth representation. They were told that their voices mattered, yet now I am told that the Government is unlikely to support my Supplementary Order Paper.

I call on the Government to not disenfranchise a group of young people when there is no reason for doing that. I call on the Government to not make another generation of young Aucklanders cynical about this process. It is not good enough to tell the young people who engaged in good faith in the select committee process that now, when there is a Supplementary Order Paper that deals with their issues, their plight should instead be shoved off into an omnibus bill in a third round of legislation. That will be 6 months down the track, and we do not even know yet whether it will contain these references. We can deal with the issue now. I also say to the Government members who nodded at the select committee, told young people that this was not their time and that they must wait until after this bill passed to see whether they had crowed loudly enough to get their representation addressed in the third round of legislation, that that is not good enough. Those young people submitted in good faith, their submissions were heard in good faith, and they should be adopted in good faith. Unless the Government can give me a reason why they should not be heard and have their representation dealt with now, I will continue to pursue my Supplementary Order Paper and expect it to be adopted wholeheartedly. Unless I hear a good reason why that should not occur, I will continue to advocate on behalf of young people.

My final plea is that the Government does not act cynically towards these young people and does not create another generation of disenfranchised, cynical young Aucklanders, because doing that will come back to bite it.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : I want to continue the theme of the advisory boards. However, I want to know why members from ethnic communities who are members of the Government are not standing up to take a call. Why are they not advocating for the interests of the ethnic communities of New Zealand, particularly those in Auckland? Those members mix amongst them day in and day out. They know day by day what their interests are. They know day by day what they are saying about what Auckland needs to do to capitalise on their interests, capitalise on what ethnic communities bring to Auckland, and capitalise also on what they are saying. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance was very clear about their interests. It talked about them, but Mr Bakshi just sits here. He has returned to the House refreshed. More than any one of us, he should be advocating for the interests of the very communities he has come from, rather than reading the newspaper in the House, which is what that National member has been doing. Members from the particular communities that we come from are privileged to be in this House and privileged to represent our communities, and there comes a time when we need to stand up and say what the people are saying. Rather than reading the newspaper, he should tell us what the people are saying.

Labour members have moved amongst them. The people have said that they have come to New Zealand to make a solid contribution. They have committed totally to this process. They have brought their families, they have burnt their bridges in many cases, and they are committed to New Zealand. They want to contribute. What did the royal commission say? These are important members of the Auckland community. There must be a way for them, firstly, to be elected, and, secondly, to participate. What is the best way that they can participate? By having their own advisory boards. Will those members cross the floor?

As for the Minister for Ethnic Affairs, she had one chance. This was one time that that Minister could have gained the same kudos that the previous Government did. The previous Government established the Office of Ethnic Affairs, and it is doing great work. The Minister asked her staff to go up and down the country to teach ethnic communities how to make submissions, and what do you know? They did. The ethnic communities learnt very quickly. They made submissions to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, but there has not been one word from those members about those submissions, not one representation in favour of ethnic communities making their voices heard through advisory boards. Why are those members not doing that?

What do the ethnic communities bring to New Zealand? They are the defining characteristic of Auckland. They will, before long, represent 20 percent of our population. They are committed to this country. They are committed to Auckland, the city I love and the city in which I live. They want to bring their children up there. They want to use whatever intelligence they have to make Auckland a great city. They want their businesses to do well. They want their religious practices to do well. They want the super-city to really respond to those things. How do those members think it will respond? How can the super-city really understand the interests of those communities, day in and day out? Or is the Government interested only in making it appear that it thinks it is good that we have a multi-ethnic Auckland, and that it is committed to what the ethnic societies bring? We all love going to their functions. We all love attending them, saying hello in their languages, and eating their food. But when the time comes to enable them to participate in a way that is fundamentally the right of every New Zealand citizen, Government members are silent.

Not only that; they are silent on the interests of youth, as well. As my colleague Jacinda Ardern just said, youth will not vote but they will make a solid contribution. The one expectation that our young people in the 21st century have is to be taken seriously by Governments. That is how they want to participate.

The same is said about our Pacific communities. The Government has discounted the interests of Māori. What is it about this Government, which says the right words about our ethnic people, which talks about the advantages of having them in our midst, but when it comes to enabling them to participate reverts to type? What is that type? That type is determined now by the ACT Party.

Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) : I am delighted to rise to speak to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, particularly in relation to the Asian Advisory Board. But before I do that, can I say that I had a lot of time for John Carter, until recent times. He was the chair of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and I believe he did a great job while we were listening to the submitters. We went to all parts of Auckland. I had the opportunity to sit with him and listen to a lot of the submissions. Every time, he raised hopes. There were high hopes of John Carter. I am really disappointed to see that he has been rolled over. He has been ruled out, again. I thought he had a lot of influence in the National Party, but it looks like he has been ruled out. Time and again I heard that he was very sympathetic to Māori seats and to the Māori people. We heard them in Rodney, we heard them in Manukau, we heard them at the subcommittee, but it looks like John Carter has been ruled out. After all the good things he said in the select committee process, I am very disappointed about that. I thought he was a person who stands up for what he believes in, but, clearly, he has given up on this particular occasion.

Asian people have been in this country for 130 years. I am quite sure that National Party members do not realise that. Asians have been around for a long time. A lot of people came from China, and I am sure Pansy Wong knows that. They have been around for 130 years, but it was not until 1996 that Asian people entered Parliament. I pay respect to Pansy Wong. She came in in 1996. She has been around, but what has she done?

Hon Trevor Mallard: Has she been in Parliament all that time?

Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY: All that time, but all she has done is attend Diwali functions and Chinese New Year functions, and that is about all.

Hon Darren Hughes: Free feeds!

Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY: For free feeds and to say hello to people in all their languages. That is about all she has done. Now she is joined by Mr Bakshi.

Hon Darren Hughes: He doesn’t even turn up for the free feeds!

Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY: He is also turning up for the free feeds. I want to ask those members one question: have they raised an Asian or ethnic issue in their caucus? Have they asked any questions of the Prime Minister as to why something has not been done? Have they asked John Carter what he has done for Asian people? Those members have done nothing. I would like them to take a call to tell us their side, to tell us what they have done for the Asian and ethnic people of Auckland regarding, particularly, Auckland governance. Nearly 20 percent of the population of Auckland is Asian, and that population is growing. Those people will have no opportunity to be represented on the Auckland Council. It is very clear that in the election Mr Bakshi got 7 percent fewer votes in Manukau East than the National Party. Those are the real statistics. They mean that even National Party people did not support him and did not vote for him. Similarly, Ravi Musuku got 7 percent fewer votes than the National Party. People voted for the party but not for those candidates. Recently Melissa Lee got 17 percent of the vote in Mt Albert, half of the National Party’s vote.

Hon George Hawkins: Where is she?

Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY: She is not taking any calls. Those members think they represent the ethnic people of Auckland, but they are not speaking up. They are not taking up their cause with their caucus, the Prime Minister, or the Minister concerned. They do not want to do that, because they think they will be gone. The Auckland community is very diverse.

RAYMOND HUO (Labour) : My amendment to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill proposes that a new clause 12B be inserted after clause 12A. The new clause 12A establishes an Asian Advisory Board, and its purpose is to perform an advisory role for the governing body in relation to its decisions relating to the Asian community, to represent the views of the Asian community, and to enable the participation of the Asian community in the decision-making process of the Auckland Council. Membership of the board will be determined by the governing body in consultation with Asian communities and community leaders within the Auckland region. The Asian Advisory Board will have no fewer than four members appointed by a majority vote of the governing body.

This morning I received an email from Professor Manying Ip, a prominent scholar and Asian community leader, which included her blessing and endorsement. The reason she gave for endorsing my amendment was a simple one: sheer demographics mean that Asians cannot be ignored in any plans for Auckland. The 2006 census found that 234,222 people were recorded as belonging to the Asian ethnic group and living in the Auckland Regional Council area. Chinese made up 42 percent of those, Indian 31.8 percent, Korean 9.1 percent, Filipino 4.2 percent, Japanese 2.3 percent, Sri Lankan 2.2 percent, and Cambodian and Thai 1.4 percent each. Roughly, Asians make up 13 percent of the population of Auckland, which is the largest demographic after Europeans and Māori.

Auckland is the first port of call for many immigrants, and most of them stay there. With about two-thirds of all new Asian migrants settling in Auckland, it is there that the changes are most apparent. Auckland absorbs a disproportionate share of this growth, with an estimated future growth of about 51 percent for the Asian population up to 2016, compared with 46 percent for New Zealand as a whole. The report by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance pointed out that ethnic minorities are under-represented on Auckland’s councils. After the 2007 elections, 84 percent of the members of Auckland’s councils identify as European, 9 percent as Māori, 4 percent as Pacific, and 4 percent as Asian. The royal commission report provided profiles for Pacific and Asian people in Auckland and identified the challenges that are faced in terms of housing, health, wages, education, skills development, transportation, and socio-economic issues. The royal commission pointed out that engagement with Asian and Pacific communities was critical to improving governance relationships and improving strategies aimed at increasing socio-economic productivity goals. It recommended establishing advisory panels for Pacific, Asian, and other ethnic communities.

However, the bill, as drafted, does not include Asian representation in the reorganisation of Auckland governance. The Supplementary Order Paper that the Labour ethnic caucus introduced moves to enhance and guarantee such representation. Many Auckland councils already use formal structures, such as advisory groups, to ensure that the voices of certain groups in society are heard. An Asian Advisory Board that sits within local government structures would be a proper forum. As honourable members can tell, we are not asking for privilege or for a seat or seats; we are asking for a form of recognition and a proper right of representation.

I urge the Government’s Asian MPs to support the proposed amendments. Under MMP we now have six Asian honourable members of Parliament, three on this side and three on the other side. Again, I urge National’s Asian MPs to support our proposed amendments and work together for this productive, hard-working proportion of the new regime’s population. It is not about politics; it is about what is best for the people of Auckland. We need to work together to ensure that our ethnic community has a say in the future of Auckland. Thank you.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : That was a speech made by Raymond Huo, who is a member of the Labour Party and a wonderful advocate for people of Chinese ancestry. He was speaking up on behalf of the many communities of Asian descent in the Auckland region. But unfortunately from members on the other side of the Chamber there is only silence. They have been gagged and, no doubt, instructed by Mr Hide to stay silent. Their silence also gives the impression that they are not listening and that they have already made up their minds.

Labour will continue to advocate for Māori seats because it is the right thing to do. Labour will continue to advocate that we have advisory bodies on the new council that allow participation by Asian communities, Pacific communities, and young people. It has been said by some members from the other side of the Chamber that Auckland is a gifted city, yet when it comes to actually doing something about allowing for the full potential of the city to be realised, it is not in the governance structure put forward by the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. Nothing in the structure encourages full participation of the diverse populations of the Auckland region.

At a later stage I will move an amendment to this bill, adding a new clause that would establish a Pacific Advisory Board. Its purpose would be to perform an advisory role for the governing body in relation to its decisions relating to Pacific Island communities; to represent the views of the Pacific Island communities; and to enable participation of the Pacific Island community in the decision-making processes of the Auckland Council. The membership of that advisory board would be determined by the governing body in consultation with Pacific communities and Pacific leaders within the Auckland region. The Pacific Advisory Board would have no fewer than four members, appointed by a majority vote of the governing body.

It is important that I spell that out, because on the other side of the Chamber fear drives the members’ determination not to allow for Māori participation, and not to allow for participation by Asian communities or Pacific communities. There is fear on the other side of the Chamber. The Government does not want young people to participate. If we are looking to the future—and this structure will be in place for the next 50 to 100 years—is it not right to ensure that we put in place a structure that allows full participation from all the communities of that region? If our aim is to ensure that everybody is able to receive a good quality of life, should we not ensure that the structure has everybody in it? Should we not ensure that the structure is able to realise the full potential that exists in all those communities? There is strong commitment from this side of the Chamber that everybody in that region has a significant role to play, and that it is important for this Government to be able to provide that structure and the particular process to enable it.

I have seen my counterpart on the other side of the Chamber, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, advertise furiously in many local newspapers with Mr Key, saying that they were listening, willing, and accessible to Pacific communities. But I have to say—

Hon Member: Missing in action.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO: Yes, there is really no action. It is not in the structure in this legislation. What the Government is saying does not align with what it is about to do. Through this structure, it is giving power to a handful, and—with the greatest respect to this Committee—it is a handful of middle-class white males, who will dominate the council. It has been purposely structured in that way. The Government is deleting the structures that allow representation from all of the different cultures in the area.

CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) : Tēnā koe, Mr Chair. Last night I spoke about the missed opportunities in this process. An opportunity to really engage with Aucklanders—to use it as a way of ensuring that we strengthen local government and strengthen understanding and participation in local government—was undermined by the processes used by this Government. I will continue to speak about those missed opportunities.

One missed opportunity relates to recognising and responding to the diversity that is Auckland. Diversity is the strength of Auckland; for those of us who live in Auckland, it is one thing we really love about living in Auckland. The diversity has a whole bunch of economic and social benefits for all of us, but, frankly, the Government is failing to deal with this question. I stand here supporting colleagues who have already put forward Supplementary Order Papers to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill around issues like the Pacific Advisory Board, an Asian Advisory Board, and a Youth Council. These structures will facilitate greater involvement and will recognise that diversity. They will provide benefits not only for those particular groups, but also for the rest of us.

I ask a particular question of a couple of the MPs in the Chamber. I want to know why they have not got up to speak on the possibility, for example, of an Asian Advisory Board. Why is the Hon Pansy Wong sitting over there and not engaging in this debate, at all? She is failing to get up and represent people in Auckland, and the ethnic communities in particular. What about Kanwaljit Bakshi? What is he doing? As someone has said to me, perhaps that silence is his valedictory. Frankly, he is not exactly getting up and telling us about the communities in Auckland that he has dealings with, and he should.

It is not just those MPs. Where are the other Auckland MPs? Where are they and why are they not dealing with this question? The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance talked quite significantly about migrant and refugee communities in Auckland, and it recognised the absolute fact that Auckland is by far the most culturally diverse city in New Zealand, with well-established migrant populations. The proportion of Auckland’s population that was born outside New Zealand has grown in a very short period of time, from 23 percent in 1986 to 37 percent in 2006. So a huge proportion of Aucklanders were not born in Auckland. We need to make sure we are doing a better job of engaging those communities and ensuring they have a voice, because I think we all know, if we are honest, that at the moment there is a real representation gap for many Aucklanders. If we look particularly at those new migrant and refugee communities we see that there is certainly a representation gap. As Jacinda Ardern eloquently outlined before, that is also the case for young people, and, as Su’a William Sio has said, there is also a representation gap for Pacific people.

Ethnic diversity in Auckland is increasing, and there will be different requirements and needs. Ms Kaye can sit across the Chamber and whistle all she likes, but the reality is that this is a very important question. I do not know the figures for Auckland Central, but in the Maungakiekie electorate—and where is the MP for Maungakiekie? He has been strangely silent during this debate. Let me tell members about the figures for Maungakiekie.

Jo Goodhew: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I ask for your assistance in reminding the member—and it has been an ongoing theme—that it is not appropriate to refer to members who are not present in the Chamber. We all need to take some time to be elsewhere to continue with our duties, and therefore it is inappropriate to refer to a member’s absence. I ask for your assistance in this matter.

Hon Trevor Mallard: It was a very simple reference: “Where is the member?”. We know that the member has not taken a call. His absence from the Chamber would not have been recognised were it not for the fact that the junior National whip has, by way of her point of order, drawn further attention to it. It is my view that the comment was a passing reference rather than a heavy focus. I remind you, Mr Chairperson, that this matter is not covered in a Standing Order; it is a convention. It is a convention and not a requirement in this Chamber. If members choose to breach conventions, clearly there is some risk, which goes both ways. But it is not a requirement of the Standing Orders not to refer to the absence of members.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): I draw members’ attention to Speaker’s ruling 24/8: “It is a convention that we do not make reference to the fact that a member is away or is not in the member’s seat.” A convention, in my view, is as strong as a rule. Convention is the kawa of this Chamber. Who turns up at a marae and says that they will ignore the kawa of the marae? People do not do that, and I advise the member that he would be very unwise to do so here. If it is the kawa of this place that we do not refer to the absence of a member, then we abide by it. I say to the member who spoke last, Trevor Mallard, that I would have had some sympathy for his comments had it not been for the fact that he was shouting out interjections about where he thought the member was, and was making the situation very clear. I see by his smile that he accepts he is guilty as charged. I say to members that it is a convention, so let us respect the convention just as we would respect the kawa of a marae. The kawa of this place is that we do not make passing references to the absence of members.

Hon John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Is it appropriate to refer to the absence of Trevor Mallard even if he is present?

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): No, that is not a point of order. I point out to members that we have successfully frittered away the time, and it is now 1 o’clock and time for the suspension for lunch. Before members go, I draw their attention to an agreement reached by the Business Committee. In accordance with its decision, question time will be held today at 2 o’clock. After that, Carol Beaumont will have 1 minute and 16 seconds remaining to speak, if she wishes.

  • Debate interrupted.
  • Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Questions to Ministers

Mining—Minerals Stocktake in Conservation Areas

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What does he hope to achieve by his stocktake of minerals in New Zealand’s highest-value conservation areas, as announced in his August 26 speech?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Energy and Resources) : The purpose of the stocktake is to identify areas of land in schedule 4 where the conservation values are relatively low but mineral potential high. The Government will consider removing those areas of land from schedule 4 so that environmentally responsible mining can take place on very small sections within that land. New Zealand is a mineral-rich country, and responsible mining of low-value conservation areas can contribute significantly to job and economic growth in this country.

Metiria Turei: When he said in his speech that “A report circulated by the World Bank some years ago rated New Zealand second in the world in terms of natural wealth per capita.” was he aware that minerals, in that report, account for just 3 percent of New Zealand’s natural wealth?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The important point that the member misses is that per capita, New Zealand ranks behind only Canada as a mineral-rich country.

Metiria Turei: When the Minister used the World Bank report to justify his desire to pillage our most valuable conservation land, was he aware that these magnificent places make up 20 percent of our natural wealth, compared with minerals making up just 3 percent?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I have no desire, nor has the Government, to “pillage our most valuable conservation land”.

Jonathan Young: Has he seen any reports that support the Government’s objective of balancing economic objectives with environmental responsibility; if so, what do the reports say?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I have seen a report in the form of a press release in support of that goal from a very surprising source. In 2006 the person concerned issued a press release about the requirement for Solid Energy to move 250 Augustus snails to make way for the expansion of Solid Energy’s Stockton mine. That person said “This case clearly shows that it is possible to balance the economic concerns of miners and the conservation concerns of protecting endangered species in such a way that all parties are happy,”. It may surprise the House to learn that the person I have just quoted is none other than Metiria Turei.

Hon David Parker: Why will the Minister not admit his error and stop taking steps to allow mining in national parks, given that the head of the Minerals Industry Association is on record, just a week ago, as saying that even the industry does not want to mine in national parks?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The Government has not said that we are going to mine in national parks. We have said that we are going to take stock of some of the land that is currently in schedule 4 that has low conservation value. The last Government, just 1 month before the last election, put an extra 1.2 million hectares in schedule 4. We want to know how much of that land has some mineral value. There is nothing wrong with looking at the conservation estate to see what the value might be.

Metiria Turei: Has the Minister not been advised that the definition of “stocktake” is preparation for retail, and does he really expect New Zealanders to believe that he is spending all that money and effort to prepare the stock, with no intention of selling it off?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I am fascinated to receive an English lesson from the Green Party. All I will say is I would have thought that after all the Greens’ years of electoral failure, they themselves might take stock of where they are at in this matter.

Jonathan Young: What are the benefits of environmentally responsible mining?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There are large economic benefits from responsible mining. Mining in New Zealand uses just 40 square kilometres of land, which is less than 0.015 percent of New Zealand’s total land area, and the export value of mining that land is $175,000 per hectare. Dairy farming, by comparison, uses 20,000 square kilometres of our land mass, with an export value of only $3,500 per hectare. In 2008 coal, metal, industrial minerals, and their production were worth over $2 billion in value, and supported thousands of jobs throughout New Zealand. If Labour and the Greens want to put those people out of work, they should campaign on it.

Metiria Turei: When the Minister shot himself in the foot by using the World Bank report, was he also aware that the remaining 77 percent of our immense natural wealth lies in our farms and forests, which themselves are utterly dependent on the services that our conservation land provides, like clean water, fertile soils, pollination, biodiversity, and even our “100% Pure New Zealand” brand?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Quite clearly and quite evidently, the member and I have different interpretations of the report concerned.

Metiria Turei: When the Minister said in his speech that “… New Zealanders need to know that this country is also well endowed with natural resources.”, is it not the case that Kiwis already know how blessed we are, already know that our magnificent conservation places are like gold to the New Zealand economy, and are aghast at his attempts to plunder those areas for fool’s gold and dirty coal?

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has to at least attempt to answer a question properly put to him by another member of Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: Unless the Minister considers it not to be in the public interest, he should answer the question. I call the Hon Gerry Brownlee. The Minister clearly has nothing to say in response to the question.

Metiria Turei: That is fine. If the Minister is simply—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Metiria Turei: —speechless—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume her seat immediately.

Metiria Turei: Are you going to make him answer the question?

Mr SPEAKER: The member will not interject while I am on my feet. The Minister has indicated that he has no answer to give to that question, and that is the end of that matter.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Ministers are required to answer questions when it is consistent with the public good to do so, but questions must also be within a band of what I think are reasonably answerable questions. I have made it very clear that this Government has no intention to plunder the conservation—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. We will not now handle the question by way of points of order. The Minister chose not to give any answer to the question. That is the end of that matter.

Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are in unusual territory now. I think this is the first time in this term of Parliament that a Minister has refused to even get up and make any response to a question put to him or her. Mr Speaker, you accepted the question as being in order, so there was nothing wrong procedurally with the question put by Metiria Turei. I think it is important for you to indicate to the House now that if a Minister believes that answering a question is not in the public interest—which is the only reason Ministers may not answer questions—the Minister should get up and say that, not just sit there and do nothing. Mr Speaker, I think you have to give a steer to Ministers here, because we regard that as an unacceptable performance when you yourself had accepted the question from the member.

Mr SPEAKER: It is an interesting issue that has arisen. I refer members to Speaker’s ruling 162/5, which states: “It is not obligatory on a Minister to answer a question. It is certainly customary but there is no sufficient reason for saying it is binding.” It is the public, having heard the question and seen the Minister’s refusal to answer it, that makes the final judgment on the situation.

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not want to spend too much of the House’s time on this issue, but a very serious concern is raised for those of us in the Opposition when a Minister can simply refuse to answer a question without giving a clear indication of the reasons for doing that, particularly as the Standing Orders are clear that a Minister can refuse to answer if answering would not be in the public interest. I expect that some serious points will be raised on this issue. Perhaps, Mr Speaker, you would give your commitment to take an opportunity outside the Chamber to consider the nature of that ruling and the implication of it. What it means is that Opposition members can go to great lengths to prepare relevant and procedurally correct questions to Ministers, yet Ministers can simply refuse to answer, without giving a justification. I am not sure whether that is the kind of process that you or the House would consider acceptable. Perhaps a commitment from you that you will give some consideration to your ruling in those circumstances would be helpful at this time.

Hon David Parker: Speaker’s ruling 162/5 states that a Minister does not have to answer a question—I agree with that. But a Minister does have to address the question, and that is a different matter. The Minister has failed to address the question, and unless he does so on the grounds of his addressing it not being in the public interest, I suggest that, with respect, he is in breach of the Standing Orders. If that were allowed, the effect would be that question time could be rendered completely ineffective, because all of the questions from the Opposition members could be completely ignored by the Government.

Hon Peter Dunne: Mr Speaker, in addition to Speaker’s ruling 162/5, which you have already quoted, I draw your attention to Speakers’ ruling 163/1: “A Minister is not obliged to seek the call in answer to a question if the Minister does not intend to answer it.”, and then it goes on. It would seem to me that that is pretty clear. Although the practice might be unusual, and even undesirable, there is certainly a clear precedent in terms of Speakers’ rulings that a Minister can refuse to answer a question if he or she does not wish to answer it.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank honourable members, and I do not think I need to hear more on this. If members reflect on the situation they will quickly see that where very clear, straight questions are asked, Ministers would be very unwise to refuse to answer them, because in the court of public opinion a Minister would be condemned for refusing to do so. I think Metiria Turei might be well advised to reflect on the nature of the question she put to the Minister, and why the Minister, therefore, chose not to answer it. It is very simple: where questions are clear-cut and require an answer, no Minister is going to refuse to answer, unless it is not in the public interest to do so. But where a question is of the nature of the question that the member asked, it is in the member’s own hands to ask a more penetrating question if she wants to avoid this situation occurring again. The Hon Peter Dunne is quite correct: there are a number of Speakers’ rulings on this issue, and I am not going to turn all of those on their head.

Dr Kennedy Graham: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it is in the discretion of the Minister not to answer a question on the grounds that answering it is not in the public interest, would he perhaps give this House the courtesy of explaining why, in his opinion, answering the question is not in the public interest.

Mr SPEAKER: There is absolutely no need for that. The Minister is not required to take the call to answer the question. Had the question been a clear-cut, clear question, the Minister of course would have answered it, because the public would condemn the Minister for not doing so. I invite the honourable member Dr Kennedy Graham to look at the Hansard of his colleague’s question. Doing so would be very informative.

Metiria Turei: Is the Minister now willing to admit that the World Bank report upon which he relied to justify his agenda of mining in our most valuable conservation lands does not actually support his mining agenda—to the contrary, it provides clear evidence as to why that would be a bad idea for New Zealand’s economy, in that it is our treasured heritage, our natural forests, and our rich and fertile soils that make us a wealthy nation?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: In answering questions this afternoon I have made it clear that the Government has no intention of mining high-value conservation land. From the member’s question, she does not seem to want to accept the answers given. It is no wonder that she gets no answers to her questions.

Emissions Trading Scheme—Cost of Changes

2. Hon PHIL GOFF (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: When he said in the House yesterday that the Government was interested in “making sure that our scheme is affordable”, what specific cost estimates, if any, has he received from officials on the extra costs to the New Zealand taxpayer of the changes to the emissions trading scheme over the full phase-in period?

Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : I have received specific cost estimates from officials in the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Treasury relating to a variety of options considered by the Government for amending New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme. The official cost estimate of the changes to the emissions trading scheme during the phase-in period was $415 million. Of that figure, $162 million is for the 6-month delay in the entry of the stationary energy and industrial processes sector, a change that Labour had agreed to. The bulk of the remaining cost is for the 50 percent obligation during the phase-in period, to halve the cost to electricity and fuel users. There is also a cost of several million dollars for the additional allocations to the fishing industry.

Hon Phil Goff: In arriving at those costs did officials rely on the lowest-possible likely market price for carbon, and did they do so in order to hide the true cost of what the Kiwi taxpayer will be spending to subsidise heavy polluters?

Hon JOHN KEY: No, they relied on their best estimate.

Hon Phil Goff: Did the Government in fact use an estimated carbon cost of $30 a tonne to calculate the cost of the subsidy; if so, why, when Nick Smith, in his recent announcements, has been using costs as high as $100 to $200 a tonne? How does the Prime Minister explain that discrepancy?

Hon JOHN KEY: All I can say is that I would be very surprised if the cost of carbon was $100 a tonne at any time in the foreseeable future.

Hon Phil Goff: To what degree are the Treasury estimates inconsistent with the estimates worked out by the Sustainability Council and used on radio this morning, indicating that the impact of what he is changing will be to double the taxpayer’s subsidy to Rio Tinto from $1 billion to $2 billion by 2030?

Hon JOHN KEY: I will say a few things. Firstly, I did not hear the comments from Peter Neilson this morning. I was busy speaking to a large audience of New Zealand businesses, which, I have to say, were overwhelmingly positive and grateful that their industries would remain in New Zealand. What confuses me is that when the Leader of the Opposition was roaring into his conference last Friday, he got up and said he cared about low-income New Zealanders and the price impacts of electricity—

Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you will recall, the question was quite straightforward. It asked to what extent the Treasury estimates were consistent with the estimates of the Sustainability Council. The Prime Minister has, as yet, not attempted to answer or even address that question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the Prime Minister indicated that he was unaware of the Sustainability Council’s statements on the matter, but I think he has gone on long enough.

Hekia Parata: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Has the Prime Minister seen today’s reports from Charles Chauvel saying he wants Phil Goff to write to Mr Key to reopen talks with the Government; if so, what would his response be?

Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, I have. I welcome those reports. In reaching an agreement with the Māori Party, the Government has no reason to cease discussions with other political parties. I have long held the view that it would be a good thing to build a broad consensus around this difficult and long-term policy area, and if the Labour Party wishes to re-enter negotiations with the National Government, we will be more than happy to do so.

Hon Phil Goff: Has the Prime Minister, or his officials, estimated what the extra subsidy from Kiwi taxpayers will be for major multinational companies like Rio Tinto, Holcim Cement, the oil companies, and the farming sector; if so, how many billions of dollars does that represent by the end of this process, and is that fiscally sustainable?

Hon JOHN KEY: I have not seen any analysis specific to those companies. I will make one thing clear. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Do members want to hear an answer or not?

Hon JOHN KEY: We campaigned on an emissions trading scheme that would be fiscally neutral, not one that would rip $23 billion off the taxpayers of New Zealand. That is precisely what we have delivered. We are also in the process of delivering an emissions trading scheme that will keep Kiwi jobs, will keep New Zealanders employed, and will make sure that New Zealander can afford their electricity bills and can fill up their cars. I call that a success; the Labour Party does not.

David Garrett: Is it correct that the deal the Prime Minister announced with the Māori Party on Monday is only an agreement to get the bill to a select committee, not into law; if so, what does he think it will cost to consummate the deal?

Hon JOHN KEY: That is absolutely correct. I am actually extremely confident that over time we will reach a long-term agreement, with the Māori Party’s support and the support of United Future, to see the legislation passed into law. The reason for that—

Hon Trevor Mallard: Are you sure they want to consummate with you?

Hon JOHN KEY: There is one thing I do not want to do, and that is consummate anything with you, Trevor; that is for sure. I cannot imagine what the holidays would be like—not a hell of a lot of fun, I would have thought.

Mr SPEAKER: I think we have had enough of that exchange.

Hon Phil Goff: Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the results of this deal that he has reached will impose, over time, billions of dollars of subsidies, which will go to wealthy multinational companies like Rio Tinto; if so, how will he pay for that? Will it be by extra taxes, or will it be by cutting further areas of valuable social expenditure?

Hon JOHN KEY: No, I will not acknowledge that, because it is absolutely incorrect. The Government has made changes to the long-term reduction of assistance to industries big and small.

Hon Member: How do you know?

Hon JOHN KEY: I say to that member that he should listen to the answer for just 2 seconds and see whether it satisfies him. You never know, you might learn something.

Mr SPEAKER: I can assure the Prime Minister that the Speaker is listening.

Hon JOHN KEY: The point is that we have reached an agreement to reduce New Zealand’s emissions by 50 percent by 2050. The situation beyond 2012 is quite uncertain, but if agreements are reached in line with the Government’s 2020 policy announcement, there will be no taxpayer subsidies to industry, because support will be reduced in line with New Zealand’s reduced emissions target. That is the whole point of having a “50 by 50” target, not a scheme that reduces those credits by 100 percent.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Ki te Pirimia—[Interruption] Hoihoi tahi. What proposals does the Prime Minister have for the implementation of a modified emissions trading scheme to mitigate the cost impact on families, and how will he ensure that low-income households are also able to benefit from energy efficiency assistance?

Hon JOHN KEY: We are looking at two things. Firstly, there will obviously be an impact on inflation from the emissions trading scheme, and over time that will flow through the CPI and into benefits. We are taking a closer look at the timing of that.

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon JOHN KEY: That is actually the law. Secondly, we have received strong submissions and advocacy from the Māori Party to ensure that there will be a 100 percent subsidy for low-income families when it comes to home insulation. That is a recommendation that we are looking very favourably on.

Hon Phil Goff: In denying that the changes to the scheme will cost billions of dollars over time, as he said in his last answer, why will he not tell New Zealanders what it will actually cost; is it because he does not know that, or is it because he will not tell ordinary New Zealand taxpayers that this will cost them literally billions of dollars, when at the same time he is cutting superannuation and adult education and is doing very little to help those who are out of work?

Hon JOHN KEY: For a start, we have not cut superannuation, so let us get a few things right. In fact, we have raised superannuation and left the floor at 66 percent. Secondly, as I said, subject to the negotiations at Copenhagen and the adoption of the “50 by 50” target, I am reasonably confident that those costs will be neutral. The third point I would make is that if Phil Goff wants to have, as his badge of honour, forcing out industries from New Zealand, putting Kiwis on the dole, and making sure that New Zealanders pay very over-inflated electricity and fuel bills, he can go ahead. But he should stop going to conferences on his motorbike or his high horse and telling New Zealanders that somehow he will cut costs for them, when he is trying to double them.

David Garrett: Is it correct that still to be agreed with the Māori Party is the exact wording of the Treaty clause in the legislation, the number of Treaty settlements involving trees that must be renegotiated and the extent to which they must be renegotiated, and the number of carbon credits to be allocated to iwi fishing quota holders; if not, what is still to be decided?

Hon JOHN KEY: What is true is that we have not agreed on the final wording, but I can confirm that Crown Law has had an initial look at it and is comfortable with it.

Hon Phil Goff: What, specifically, did the National Government offer to the Māori Party to get its agreement, and for the Māori Party to utterly contradict the claimed principled position that it held in its minority report and as recently as last week?

Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, I refute that it utterly contradicted the Māori Party’s minority report. Secondly, there are a number of things. One of the things was the Treaty of Waitangi. [Interruption] Well, actually if one looks at the instance of a fixed-rate—[Interruption] There are a number of things. They have been well documented, including a Treaty clause. Certainly, we are looking at a 100 percent subsidy for some low-income New Zealanders for their insulation. We are looking at a number of issues around forestry.

Hon Phil Goff: I seek the leave of the House to table two documents. The first is a transcript from a Q+A interview with Nick Smith on 26 July, where he answers with figures based on a carbon price of $200 per tonne, not $30 per tonne.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that transcript. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Phil Goff: The second document I wish to table is a document from the Ministry for the Environment, in which the Minister makes estimates based on a carbon price of $100 per tonne, not the $30 per tonne—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document from the Ministry for the Environment. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the last fiscal estimates under the Labour Government, which included exactly the same carbon price that is being used by this Government.

Mr SPEAKER: Is this the published fiscal estimates?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Correct.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. [Interruption] The House is not clear on it. Would the Hon Dr Smith make clear exactly what the document is.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Last year the last Budget that was presented by the Labour Government had a price for carbon that is exactly the same as the price methodology used for the carbon price today.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has made it clear now. The member is seeking leave to table a document from last year’s Budget. [Interruption] Just as I have to do for others, I have to put the leave request. Members can refuse it if they wish to. [Interruption] Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.

Question No. 1 to Minister

METIRIA TUREI (Green) : I seek leave to table seven documents related to question No. 1. The first document is a World Bank report entitled Estimating National Wealth, which the Minister of Energy and Resources had referred to in his speech. The report is dated January 1998, and shows that New Zealand’s conservation lands are essential to our national wealth.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

METIRIA TUREI: I seek leave of the House to table an appendix from a similar but more recent World Bank report, called Where is the Wealth of Nations, dated 2006, which again shows that New Zealand’s conservation lands are essential to our natural wealth.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is none.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

METIRIA TUREI: I seek leave to table a photograph of the Stockton coalmine, which the Minister used as an example of responsible mining. The photograph is dated January 2009, and shows the destruction of native bush and mountains—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Photograph, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

METIRIA TUREI: I seek leave to table copies of the Green Party petition Save Our Treasured Places, with 150 signatures having already been gained in just a few days.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Just to clarify it for the House, I understand that the petition has not yet been presented?

METIRIA TUREI: It has not been presented. This copy is for the information of members of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: It is a petition for which signatures are being collected. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is none.

  • Petition, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

METIRIA TUREI: I seek leave to table an official list of the high-value conservation places contained in schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act compiled by the Minister of Conservation, dated 16 September 2009—today—and listing nearly 400 conservation places at risk of mining.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? [Interruption] This is a bit unusual. Could the member make clear for me exactly what the document is.

METIRIA TUREI: The document is a list compiled by the office of the Minister of Conservation of 400 conservation places that are at risk of mining, and are in the categories contained in schedule 4—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

METIRIA TUREI: With your permission, Mr Speaker, because it did take the Parliamentary Library some time to locate this document, I seek leave to table debate in the House on 19 November 1997, when the then National Government created schedule 4 to protect some areas of the conservation estate from mining—places that the Government is now investigating for the purposes of mining.

Mr SPEAKER: This is Hansard from 1997?

METIRIA TUREI: It is. It was very difficult to locate.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

METIRIA TUREI: I seek leave to table an Internet notice of the Government’s 2009 Conservation Week, which began on 13 September and ends at the end of this week, with the theme of “Get involved and who knows?”.

Mr SPEAKER: Is this currently on the Internet?

METIRIA TUREI: It is a copy of an Internet notice—

Mr SPEAKER: And the member is taking the time of the House to seek leave to table it. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order relates to an earlier episode when the Minister of Energy and Resources refused to address a question. I draw to your attention that the Standing Orders are very clear that the Minister must address the question, unless it is in the public interest not to address it. Standing Order 377 is quite clear. You referred to quite an old Speaker’s ruling, Speaker’s ruling 162/5 from 1968, which states there is no obligation to answer a question, and then you referred to a later one from 1980 and 1991, Speakers’ ruling 163/1, which states that a Minister is not obliged to seek the call to answer a question. I would draw your attention to a much more recent ruling, Speaker’s ruling 162/4 from Speaker Wilson in 2008, where she refers to Standing Order 377. The ruling begins: “A Minister must give an answer ‘if it can be given consistently with the public interest’ …”. It seems to me that our Speakers’ Rulings are a kind of case law, if you like, and the more recent case law is the more relevant case law. The most relevant case law says that a Minister must give an answer if it can be given in the public interest. The Standing Orders totally back that up; they are, if you like, our statute law, and the statute is very clear that a Minister must address the question unless there is a public interest reason not to. It is totally up to Ministers’ judgment; they judge whether answering is in the public interest. It is not your call, Mr Speaker. But that is the only basis on which a Minister can decide not to address a question. I ask you to reconsider your earlier view that a Minister can simply sit there and say nothing, without even saying that it is not in the public interest to address the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate the member’s concern about the matter, but the member should please, before he takes any more of my time, read the question his colleague asked, and think a little further about it. If members want to get answers to questions in this House, they should ask questions, not make political statements. Half of the questions contain more political statement than question. I will be much more supportive of trying to ensure that an answer is given where a question is asked. I invite the member to read his colleague’s supposed question.

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I warn the member that I have ruled on the matter, and I do not intend to take more time on it.

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN: All I would say, then, is if a question is asked and it is not ruled out of order—because you did not rule it out of order; if you had ruled it out of order—

Mr SPEAKER: I do not want to waste any more time of the House on this matter. Yesterday I ruled out a question that breached the Standing Orders. I think I was unfair in doing that, and I apologise to the member to whom I did it, because it has been my practice in the House that I do not rule out questions that do not comply with the Standing Orders; I let Ministers handle them. I could have ruled out the member’s question, because it contained all sorts of political statements that, in fact, the Standing Orders do not allow to be included in questions. All I ask is if members want to have a better question time, they should ask better questions, instead of making a range of political statements. Question time is not about political statements; it is about questioning Ministers and holding them to account. I promise the member I will give him all the support I can when I hear straight questions that are seeking straight answers. I do not want to waste further time of the House on it.

Recession—Job Support

3. CRAIG FOSS (National—Tukituki) to the Minister of Finance: What measures is the Government taking to support jobs as New Zealand comes out of recession?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance) : The Government is considering how all policy decisions affect jobs. That is why we are making pragmatic and realistic choices on issues like the emissions trading system. The Government’s changes to the emissions trading system will protect thousands of jobs by ensuring that our businesses are encouraged to stay in New Zealand rather than move to other countries.

Craig Foss: Has the Minister seen any reports on alternative policy approaches?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have heard reports that the Labour Party says that it cares about jobs but, in fact, its policy includes a much tougher emissions trading scheme, with unaffordable borrow-and-hope spending promises. That would say goodbye to large companies, to growing exports, and to jobs.

Hon David Cunliffe: If the Minister is measuring all of his Government’s policies by their impact on jobs, why has there been an increase in unemployment of 24,000, while at the same time Australia has managed to hold unemployment flat for the last 3 months—

Mr SPEAKER: I call the honourable Prime Minister.

Hon David Cunliffe: —and does he not now regret not being more active in protecting Kiwi jobs?

Mr SPEAKER: I had called the honourable Prime Minister—I am sorry, I mean the Hon Bill English—because I thought the Minister had finished his question.

Hon David Cunliffe: He’s not Prime Minister yet, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: The member might have listened to what I just said about questions that contain statements, and about going on indefinitely. The member had asked a perfectly good question and I was calling the Hon Bill English to answer it.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member may not have realised it but there has been a global recession and, in fact, our policies cannot influence that directly.

Craig Foss: What would be some of the other effects of large companies moving offshore?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Clearly, if large companies moved offshore it would cost thousands of jobs. I am surprised that the party that says it stands up for workers advocates an emissions trading system that would cost thousands of jobs.

Craig Foss: Has the Minister seen any reports about Governments saddling taxpayers with extra debt by reckless borrowing?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, I have added up the promises of Labour so far this year, which amount to $6 billion of extra borrowing. Alongside its policy—

Hon David Cunliffe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it has been traversed before in this House that, firstly, the Minister has no responsibility for Labour Party policy, and, secondly, frankly he is making up policies that Labour has not announced.

Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the member’s point of order was well made. The Minister has no responsibility for Labour policy and I think he had gone on long enough there.

Benefits—Adequacy of Current Levels

4. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports, if any, has she received on the adequacy of current benefit levels?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I receive regular reports on how vulnerable New Zealand families are doing. Although I closely monitor benefit levels, I am equally concerned at the tough times facing working families in this recession. I do not want to see benefit numbers increase.

Hon Annette King: Is it still the Minister’s position that she does not want to “see benefits going up, at all”, as she stated in the New Zealand Herald today and on Television One last night; if not, what changed her mind?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Let me be quite clear that although it did not bother the former Labour Ministers, I do not believe that more people on benefits is OK. I am not prepared to write off families by leaving them trapped in endless welfare dependency. If I made a faux pas in the statement yesterday, it was that I meant I do not want to see increasing benefit numbers. We are legislating for CPI increases. After years under Labour when increases did not happen, we will be legislating for those CPI increases—end of story.

Hon Annette King: What explanation has Nick Smith given for not telling the Minister that he was negotiating with the Māori Party to increase benefit levels at the same time as she has been publicly telling New Zealanders that she will not increase benefits because we are in a recession and tough decisions have to be made?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: That is simply not true. The Māori Party has continually raised with us its concern for low-income families, and we take that concern seriously. Members can see it in the policies that we make. Alongside the Māori Party, we understand that employment and job opportunities for Māori will make a difference for those families. We will fight for that every time.

Tim Macindoe: Supplementary question—

Hon Member: The one-armed man!

Tim Macindoe: Stop slinging off. Has the Minister seen reports of how low-income families would deal with the cost of an emissions trading scheme?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes. I have seen reports saying that they would fare much better under the National Government’s emissions trading scheme, which would cost each family only half as much as the scheme the previous Labour Government wanted.

Hon Annette King: Is it not true that although she is the Minister for Social Development and Employment, negotiations with the Māori Party on crucial decisions that impact on the expenditure of her portfolio were left to Nick Smith, and she only found out about it from the media at 2 p.m. yesterday when she was coming to the House? What does that say about who is running her portfolio?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: As the member desperately clutches for relevance, she will see that there is no big story here. Negotiations have been going on over the emissions trading scheme, which her party could not engage in in a responsible, good-faith manner. So now there is desperate clutching to try to find a story somewhere else where there simply is not one.

Hon Annette King: Who got it right: the Māori Party, which said it is negotiating a benefit increase; or the Minister, who said there is not one on the table? Is this not a return to the Auckland governance legislation, where the Māori Party was left with a clear impression that the Government would back Māori seats and then at the last hour was left out in the cold?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think members will find that the CPI increases will be happening to benefits and that will be locked in under this Government via legislation, which was not done by the previous Government. It will mean an increase in benefits and puts us on the same table and in the same book that the Māori Party is in, and I am quite proud of that.

Broadband Roll-out—Progress on Urban Initiative

5. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology: What progress has the Government made on its urban broadband initiative?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Communications and Information Technology) : I am pleased to report that this morning I released the final investment model for the Government’s $1.5 billion ultra-fast broadband initiative. This will deliver ultra-fast broadband to 75 percent of New Zealanders within 10 years. Delivering fibre to the home is an essential part of the infrastructure for a strongly growing 21st century economy. It will play a key role in improving the productivity of our country as we move out of recession and into a period of growth.

Melissa Lee: How has the investment model changed from the one that was consulted on?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Government has confirmed that its investment will be directed to open access, passive fibre network infrastructure. This will be done in partnership with co-investors through local fibre companies, which will be responsible for the roll out of fibre in their area and will be permitted to participate in the wholesale market. Although consistent with the draft, changes have been made to provide greater flexibility for different-sized proposals, more regional coverage, and significantly more detail on commercial arrangements and technical issues. The next steps will be the establishment of Crown Fibre Holdings and the Ministry of Economic Development issuing invitations to participate to potential partners.

Clare Curran: Is the Minister satisfied, in light of the Telecom contractor dispute, that Telecom can fulfil all of its current obligations and also provide for a significant proportion of the additional broadband that New Zealand so urgently requires?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As the member knows, it is inappropriate for me to comment on specific private arrangements between employees and their companies. I can assure the member that the demand for skilled telecommunications workers is only going to grow over the next 5 to 10 years as a result of the Government’s investments in both rural and urban broadband infrastructure, so I encourage all skilled technicians and say that there will be plenty of work for them in this environment.

Health Care—Policy

6. Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the Minister of Health: Does he still stand by his policy to deliver better, sooner, and more convenient health care?

Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health) : Despite the fact that the previous Labour Government left this Government with $160 million of unfunded services to fill and also quietly stripped $150 million out of the health budget before the last election, yes.

Hon Ruth Dyson: What is better, sooner, and more convenient for 72-year-old Gisborne man Mr Bruce Gardiner, who faces 9 months in Waikato Hospital away from his wife and his home because of a shortage of funding for dialysis?

Hon TONY RYALL: If the member has a specific case that she wants me to comment on, she needs to give me some notice of that. I can tell the member that in Gisborne, the Tairāwhiti District Health Board has received additional funding from the Government of $8.1 million. I am advised that that is the biggest single increase in funding it has had for a decade.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Given the increase in people like Mr Gardiner needing dialysis because of diabetes, why has the Minister agreed to funding cuts of $4.8 million to the “Get Checked” Diabetes Aotearoa programme, which has been hugely successful in South Auckland and other places in detecting diabetes early?

Hon TONY RYALL: The member’s figures often need to be checked and confirmed, but I can say that if the member is referring to the line-by-line saving in respect of the diabetes “Get Checked” Diabetes Aotearoa programme, that saving was not related to any reduction in services for patients.

Dr Paul Hutchison: What recent reports has the Minister seen related to delivering a better, more convenient health service?

Hon TONY RYALL: The Government wants better, sooner, more convenient health services in rural areas, so it is making grants to six innovative projects in the rural care sector. They include a teleradiology project for Fiordland medical practices, Ōtaki primary health organisations’ general practitioner - led clinics targeting kōhanga and kindergartens, Tararua primary health organisations’ mobile service delivery project, Waikato rural pharmacies’ medication project for patients with mild to moderate depression, and Western Bay of Plenty primary health organisations’ flying doctor service.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Does the Minister agree with Dr Jeremy Krebs, the clinical leader of endocrinology and diabetes at Wellington Hospital, who said that the National Government’s decision to allow junk food in tuck shops was “a backward step in dealing with the growing obesity problem in New Zealand, and a step that will mean more people with diabetes in our country.”?

Hon TONY RYALL: I will make two points to Dr Krebs. First, I want him to know that the previous Labour Government cut funding related to the “Get Checked” Diabetes Aotearoa programme in the months before the previous election. Second, I am sure he would like to know that this National Government believes that it should be left to boards of trustees and parents to decide what is sold in school tuck shops. We simply do not want the Education Review Office running round schools looking for a stray custard square.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I seek leave to table an article in this week’s Gisborne Herald outlining the situation that Mr Bruce Gardiner finds himself in, for the edification of Anne—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table an article from the Gisborne Herald. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Schools—Ultra-fast Broadband

7. JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has the Government made to prepare schools for ultra-fast broadband?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education) : Yesterday the Minister for Communications and Information Technology and I announced the names of 14 schools that will receive funding to enable internal network upgrades. The upgrades will allow teachers and students at those schools to make greater use of digital learning technologies and will improve their access to online learning tools. The principal of Maniototo Area School in the member’s electorate has applauded the move by the Government, stating that it is exciting to be one of the 14 schools in this new upgrade round and he hopes it will allow broadband to be expanded to the Ranfurly area.

Chris Tremain: How were the 14 schools in this round of school network upgrades chosen?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: A number of criteria were used to ensure that we had a mix of rural and urban, and primary and secondary, schools in this round. We have committed to upgrades in urban areas, such as Taradale High School in the member’s electorate, but we have also recognised the importance of upgrading rural schools. That has been appreciated by a rural principal who said: “We congratulate the Government on their willingness to ensure that students at remote schools and communities such as ours are not disadvantaged from participating fully in elearning opportunities …”.

Adult and Community Education—Administration of Redundancies

8. Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the Minister for Tertiary Education: What advice, if any, has she received about whose responsibility it is to pay redundancy to night class staff in the event of night class programmes being wound down?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Tertiary Education) : I am advised that the responsibility to pay redundancy to night class staff with employment agreements lies with the employers. The decision on whether to employ staff or contract for services is one for schools to make. I am further advised that schools are encouraged to meet their investment plan obligations to deliver adult and community education, but that some schools may meet the cost of redundancy from the funding they have received for adult and community education delivery. If schools intend to do that then they are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Tertiary Education Commission.

Hon Maryan Street: What advice has the Minister received for schools that might be found to be in breach of contractual terms through using money appropriated for one purpose, namely the provision of adult and community education courses, for another purpose entirely, namely payment of redundancy?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I encourage those schools to liaise with the Tertiary Education Commission and to seek legal support and advice from the New Zealand School Trustees Association. Schools have been advised that they should seek support from the New Zealand School Trustees Association about these employment matters.

Hon Maryan Street: What authority does the Tertiary Education Commission have to tell schools they can use adult and community education funding, specifically allocated for the delivery of adult and community education programmes, for winding down those programmes before the end of 2009, given that the Tertiary Education Commission is not a contractual partner in the terms and conditions of the people made redundant?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Schools are encouraged to meet their investment plan commitment to deliver adult and community education. If they are considering decreasing provision in order to meet redundancies, they should be in contact with the Tertiary Education Commission.

Hon Maryan Street: I seek leave to table the fund schedule between the Tertiary Education Commission and recipient high schools for adult and community education, which stipulates the purpose and objectives of that fund.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Social Services—Contracting Arrangements

9. KATRINA SHANKS (National) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Has she made any announcements about contracting with the social sector?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : Yes. Yesterday I announced that we are putting in place a new and simpler way of funding and contracting. We are beginning with a trial of the new high-trust model that will combine the multiple contracts we have with individual social providers into a single, simple contract. The model will also simplify social providers’ reporting requirements, so it is more effective and results-based.

Katrina Shanks: Why is the Government trialling the high-trust contract model?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: This is all about using our existing resources more efficiently. We believe this will deliver more services for the same money, because these organisations have to comply with an absurd amount of red tape to deliver services. Some providers might have 10 or more contracts, and each has its own administrative and audit requirements. This is unique. We are talking about a 3-page contract that is not about filling out forms for these services; this is a small but significant step towards greater flexibility at the same time as delivering value for money for the taxpayer.

Jacinda Ardern: Will the Minister’s simple and open contracting arrangements announced yesterday save trusted and vital services, like Youthline’s volunteer training programme?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Value for money is going on all the time. We are constantly looking at contracts that are coming up, and this model will mean more flexibility and taking a positive step for those non-governmental organisations that contract with the Government.

State Housing—Reduction through Sales

10. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Housing: Will he guarantee that no region will see a reduction in its State housing stock as a result of his decision to put 40,000 State houses up for sale?

Hon SIMON POWER (Minister of Justice) on behalf of the Minister of Housing: The Minister can guarantee that every house sold to a tenant under this scheme will be replaced with a new house. We will probably build the replacement houses in areas of high need. Uptake is likely to be in the hundreds, rather than the thousands. This is a good example of National fulfilling one of its election promises that proved to be pretty popular with the public at the last election.

Moana Mackey: So that the rest of country can know they are not eligible for the replacement of any State houses sold in their areas, where are these high-need areas?

Hon SIMON POWER: I am sure that as the policy takes effect and we are able to balance the sale of some of these houses to the tenants who live in them, those questions will become fully and abundantly clear.

Moana Mackey: If, as the Minister has admitted, some regions will see a reduction in their State housing stock because the rebuilds will be in high-need areas like South Auckland, as the Minister has already indicated, why are 8,218 State houses—75 percent of the Housing New Zealand Corporation’s South Auckland stock—up for sale in South Auckland?

Hon SIMON POWER: Firstly, I am not sure what the member has against people being able to purchase State houses, or, for that matter, people in South Auckland being able to purchase State houses. Secondly, I have admitted simply that State houses will be replaced in areas of high need.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Kia ora anō tātou. Has the Minister received any responses from iwi Māori to the possibilities that have opened up from the homeownership of State houses?

Hon SIMON POWER: The Minister has been advised that this policy has been welcomed by Māori, as 35 percent of State house tenants identify as Māori. This policy will provide them with a further opportunity to move into homeownership, and we look forward to continuing to work with our support partners on this very important initiative.

Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart—Number of Retrofitted Homes

11. JO GOODHEW (National—Rangitata) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: How many houses were retrofitted in August though the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart home insulation programme?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Energy and Resources) : What a very well-asked question! I am very pleased to advise the House that a total of 4,889 houses were retrofitted in August as part of the programme. This is a considerable step up on the 3,282 retrofits that were completed in July. In just over 8 weeks, 8,000 Kiwi homes have received assistance, meaning that they are warmer, healthier, dryer, and better as a result of this Government’s scheme.

Jo Goodhew: How many houses lived in by residents with community services cards have been retrofitted under the Warm Up New Zealand scheme?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I am very pleased to report to the House that of the 4,489 houses retrofitted in August, 2,775 were occupied by people on low incomes. That is close to 60 percent of all the houses retrofitted in that month, which means that those residents are likely to have paid little or nothing for the insulation. [Interruption] I am not surprised that the Labour Party wants to drown out such wonderful results.

Question No. 10 to Minister

MOANA MACKEY (Labour) : I seek leave to table a document in relation to question No.10. It is a regional breakdown of the number of State houses up for sale in each area, broken down by Housing New Zealand Corporation administrative regions.

Mr SPEAKER: The source of the document?

MOANA MACKEY: It is an email from the Minister’s office.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Ministerial Accommodation—Homes Leased from Family Trusts

12. Hon PETE HODGSON (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services: What conditions must be met before it is permissible to lease a home from a family trust for use as a ministerial residence?

Hon JOHN KEY (Minister responsible for Ministerial Services) : I refer to the member to the answer given on my behalf last week.

Hon Pete Hodgson: If the Hon Bill English has no pecuniary interest in his ministerial residence, then how come the email I have here, dated 19 March, shows Mr English telling Ministerial Services which bank account to put the money into?

Hon JOHN KEY: It is a legal test as to whether someone has a pecuniary interest, and Mr English has no pecuniary interest.

Hon Pete Hodgson: I seek leave to table the email referred to in my previous supplementary question, containing the half-line that says: “the Minister has asked me to advise you of the correct account for the rent.”

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Pete Hodgson: Has the Minister been advised that a request for an additional $20 per week of cleaning allowance was made by or on behalf of Mr English on 5 December—the day Treasury told Mr English that Government expenditure had to be seriously cut—and that by 10 February Mr English had managed to claim cleaning costs even in excess of the new, higher allowance?

Hon JOHN KEY: As is so often the case with Mr Hodgson, he is a week behind the story—it was in the paper last week. No, I was not advised of that because it is an operational matter that Ministerial Services would conduct on my behalf.

Hon Pete Hodgson: Has the Minister sought or received advice as to why the Hon Bill English claims publicly to have removed himself from the family trust while still in Opposition, but his house title was not changed until he had been the Minister of Finance for almost 4 months?

Hon JOHN KEY: It is really getting bad—that was in the paper 2 months ago. But anyway, I guess if you are desperate you ask those questions.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon JOHN KEY: No, I have not sought advice in that area. The test is quite simple: it is whether the member has a pecuniary interest. He does not.

Hon Pete Hodgson: Does he think Mr English backdated changes to his trust deed so he could claim publicly that somehow he did not do it all for the money?

Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Hon Pete Hodgson: Does he now think it is wise that the English family trust deed be made public in the interests of transparency, or indeed the minutes of the trust meetings, or must the public continue to take the Hon Bill English at his word?

Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not think that is a good idea, and I certainly do take the member at his word. I caution the member that if he wants to have an open disclosure of every trust document and every superannuation document of every single member of Parliament, it would be a very interesting road to go down.

Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill

In Committee

  • Debate resumed.

Parts 1 to 4, schedule, and clauses 1 and 2 (continued)

CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) : Before we broke for lunch I was talking about the need for Auckland MPs to be engaged in this debate. There has been a sad lack of engagement by Auckland MPs. In particular, I really hope that Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, the MP for Maungakiekie, will show some interest in this matter by taking a call. Local government is hugely important to the people of that electorate.

Earlier on I was talking about the Asian Advisory Board and speaking in favour of that amendment, which has been put up by my colleague Raymond Huo. The electorate of Maungakiekie is an interesting example of just how diverse the Auckland region is. Let me tell members about it. The population described as Asian—a very large category, of course—numbers 22.3 percent. It is a very significant group. It is made up primarily of Indian and Chinese people. Pacific peoples make up 19 percent of the electorate. I am making the point that diversity is very, very marked in Auckland, and perhaps some members are not familiar with that.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I want to pick up on the comments made by some of the previous speakers this morning. Ms Ardern made a number of comments about youth representation. It is true that there were some pretty impassioned speakers on the subject of youth representation at the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. We held a number of public meetings on the issue and we received some great contributions from across Auckland on the issue. But as I said to Ms Ardern the other day, a number of issues will be dealt with in the third Auckland bill. The issues around youth representation, Pacific representation, and support for groups with disabilities have been flagged as issues that will be addressed in the next bill.

I say to those listening that all the Supplementary Order Papers that have been put forward by Labour members are just an opportunity for Labour members to talk about issues other than the issues they do not want to talk about—which are the issues within this legislation. The reason they do not want to talk about the issues within this legislation is that, as many members have already noted, the Labour Party supports a unitary authority for Auckland.

Labour has moved to a position where it actually supports 20 local boards. So we are in a position that is unique: we are, inarguably, on the cusp of one of the most important changes in local government in terms of Auckland’s governance, but we are in an odd situation whereby the Opposition is spending a whole lot of time talking about everything but the legislation, because it actually supports the legislation. Labour supports one council, and it supports 20 local boards.

I must say it took Labour quite a while to come to the position of supporting 20 local boards. The reason it came to that position is that when we were going through the select committee process Mr Twyford recognised that he was in big trouble with the Labour Party caucus. He was in trouble because he had argued for only six local entities, and some members of his party were frustrated. Su’a William Sio and many other Labour members did not want to campaign in 2011 as the party that argued for no local representation.

I am proud to be supporting a bill that will finally deliver a strong regional entity for Auckland. It will finally deliver grassroots democracy for Auckland. I want to touch on another issue that has been raised during the debate today, particularly by the Green Party, and I acknowledge Catherine Delahunty and the contribution she made when she sat on the select committee. A lot of myths have been spoken about the powers of local boards. I want to make this very clear: the people who came to the select committee said they wanted funding. They also said they wanted decent functions and powers. The Government delivered on those things for the people of Auckland.

Members opposite said that the Auckland Council will have the ability to override a lot of what the local boards do. That is absolutely false. Provisions in the bill, in clause 13D in particular, make it very clear that, with some exceptions, decisions will be made at the lowest possible level in terms of non-regulatory activity. So any member who stands in the Chamber and says anything different is speaking a load of hogwash.

Today we are delivering to the people of Auckland a strong, regional entity with strong local boards. I feel for those community board members who came to the select committee and said they had been constantly overridden. We are finally delivering to them the local democracy they need. I am proud to be supporting this legislation. It will finally give them a strong local entity so that they will be able to deliver for their communities. Any assertion to the contrary is wrong.

The other point I want to make is that the third Auckland bill will contain an independent dispute resolution mechanism, so if there is a situation where the Auckland Council tries it on and tries to grab more power, the resolution mechanism will enable the local board members to be able to go through that process and ensure they do get responsibility over local matters.

I am very proud to be in the Chamber to support this bill. I am proud to support one strong regional entity for Auckland, and 20 to 30 local boards. That is also what the Labour Party supports. It is disappointing that members opposite stand and talk about everything but the core parts of the legislation, at this historic time in Auckland’s history—indeed, in New Zealand’s history. I am proud to stand in support of the legislation.

LYNNE PILLAY (Labour) : I comment firstly on the words of the previous speaker, Nikki Kaye. The principles that she espouses are so dear to her heart; I have no doubt about that. I sat in on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee a number of times, and I acknowledge that Nikki Kaye participated very fully. She asked a lot of questions, but the reality is that what she wanted to achieve, and what she believed that she had achieved, simply did not happen. The process was made a mockery of, and so was Nikki Kaye’s contribution to the process and that of the other National members on the select committee. I congratulate certainly my colleagues on this side of the Chamber, but also the Green Party on the quality of its contribution to the debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I acknowledge Catherine Delahunty, who was at the select committee, and Sue Bradford, because they both listened really hard and agreed with us about the basic principles of democracy.

We talk about grassroots, but the proposal that National is saying is so absolutely fantastic—to break up 30 local boards—will turn into the competitive tendering model that is exactly the way the National Party is renowned for acting. I will name a few local projects within Waitakere. My colleague Darien Fenton has talked to me about the North Shore and the projects there. I want to talk about Project Twin Streams, which is absolutely renowned and came second in an international prize; the parenting day that is run in Waitakere; Trees for Babies; Violence Free Waitakere; EcoMatters Environment Trust; WeedFree Trust; and all the projects that support our children. I ask Nikki Kaye to take another call. I really congratulate her on getting on her feet, because that is a bit of a first for National members. I would like her to take a call and explain very clearly how—with this many boards and the competitive approach—we will see funding for really worthwhile projects like those I mentioned, which encapsulate a whole city, if not several different areas. The Government simply says that these local boards will be able to deliver those projects with a minimal budget and with no support at all, but we know what will happen and what they will actually be given.

We note that the Government has absolutely ignored the recommendation from the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance about a Social Issues Board. We on this side of the Chamber would be very keen for Nikki Kaye to take another call and explain how youth will be represented on the Auckland Council. The member who is gesturing at me, Paul Quinn, may also like to take a call on the issue of Māori seats. Never mind the rhetoric about what happened, how the Government listened, and how the community groups were great; I think Government members should front up and explain really clearly how this bill will deliver for community and minority groups in the greater region of our city. It simply will not, and the National Government knows that. It has no interest in seeing delivery for those groups.

The people who are giving the Government advice and who are saying how wonderful this bill is are the business people of Auckland. Theirs are the only positive comments I have seen about this bill from any group throughout the region. I would like National members to justify their actions, which we on this side of the Chamber—and, I know, the Green Party—see as absolutely immoral.

I acknowledge again all those submitters, because the common sense that came from those submissions at the select committee, and the unity of purpose, was absolutely second to none. But it all fell on the deaf ears of National Party members. They simply did not listen, including on the issue of their multi-member wards, which we know are just a sham because of the size of those wards. My colleague Phil Twyford talked about that issue. It is a ratio of one councillor to almost 50,000 people.

DARIEN FENTON (Labour) : I want to get back to another topic. Mr Key called for an uprising in Rodney. He did not mean Rodney Hide, although he got that as well, but boy did he get one in Rodney District! That was because of the Cabinet decision that was suddenly announced out of the blue to exclude north Rodney from the super-city. It caught locals and the Auckland Regional Council by complete surprise. They were shocked and horrified. Let us remember that the Government wanted to split the Rodney district at the Pūhoi River and Makarau River, severing the northern townships and settlements, as well as isolating six regional parks that all Aucklanders treasure: Mahurangi, Scandrett, Tāwharanui, Pakiri, Te Ārai, and Ātiu Creek. So the people of Rodney organised. They organised a meeting, which was held last week and was packed with angry residents. Speaker after speaker expressed their views about the very dumb idea of merging Rodney north of Wairoa with the Kaipara District Council.

The Auckland Regional Council voted unanimously last week to demand that the Government leave the Auckland boundaries alone. That decision was undemocratic, just like the rest of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I have to say that the Prime Minister has marginally redeemed himself on this one by making yet another U-turn. Possibly it is because part of Rodney is in his electorate. Perhaps that is the reason. The people were up in arms and on the march, and he would have paid for it in his electorate. Mind you, people do not forget that quickly or easily. This Government will pay the price for mucking Rodney around.

I am really pleased that the Government reversed its decision, because it was a decision that we would have all paid for. Services and the quality of life in the northern townships and settlements in rural areas would have declined. Rates would have gone up, some of the coast’s exceptional natural beauty would have been lost, and the regional parks would have been put at risk. Greedy developers would have moved in, and the Kaipara District Council would have had no chance of stopping them. I say again that the process was appalling. The northern boundary change was never put out for public consideration. Most—well, all—Rodney residents had no say on the issue, even though they made enormous efforts to be heard by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. They came along and put in a huge amount of effort to be heard, yet suddenly out of the blue came this decision. Why did they have to be put through all that trauma? Why did they have to go through that? I say good on Rodney for organising, and good on it for the uprising. I do not mean Rodney Hide. I say good on the people of Rodney, and all power to their arms.

Then there is Hunua. Poor old Dr Paul Hutchinson—

Lynne Pillay: Hutchison.

DARIEN FENTON: Is it Hutchison or Hutchinson?

Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I do not think we need to have your dissertation again. I inform Darien Fenton that the member to whom she was referring is called Hutchison.

DARIEN FENTON: Hutchison?

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Yes. There is no “N”.

DARIEN FENTON: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. I will make an additional point. If we are going to have a name-pronouncing competition, may I please be called “Dah-rien”, not “Darry-en”. Thank you.

Poor old Dr Paul has not been listened to. The people of the south have not been listened to by this Government. The boundary in the south will remain unchanged. The current Franklin District will be split just south of Pukekohe, with the rest going into the Waikato. The boundary now cuts Waiuku in two, and the hairpin in the motor racing track on the southern edge of Pukekohe is in the Waikato. How mad is that for those poor people?

By the way, that is not what the royal commission said. It recommended that there should be no change to either the northern boundary or the southern boundary. The commission set the southern boundary at the Waikato River, with Environment Waikato and the Tainui people responsible for managing the river. But the Government has ignored the royal commission, it has ignored the people, and it has ignored the local member, Dr Hutchison. Now we have bewildered, confused, and angry people in the south. We have fixed one end of Auckland, for now, but people at the other end are just as up in arms as the people of Rodney were, because the towns of Waiuku and Pukekohe will be split right down the middle. That is completely crazy. I feel sorry for the local member because he has to wear this. He is making noises about the Local Government Commission’s discussion on boundaries, but I do not think the people will be satisfied with that.

SUE BRADFORD (Green) : One important area that has not been given much attention so far in this debate is the matter of how the new super-city is going to deal with water. Given Auckland’s high annual rainfall and the increasing incidence of weather bomb problems, the Green Party is concerned that the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill recommends that the management of Auckland’s stormwater be separated from the management of Auckland’s water and waste water. This decision adds weight to worries that Watercare Services is being shaped into a neat, vertically integrated business, funded by revenues from water and waste-water charges, and ready for a possible sell-off. That is the deepest fear we have. That business model would be upset by Auckland’s stormwater challenges, but then public services do not always lend themselves to market solutions.

At the moment I understand that North Shore, Manukau, and Waitakere deliver the three local water services in an integrated way. North Shore City Council, for example, recognises how intertwined the three water services are, whether or not people like it, and understands that they need to be managed together, for a whole host of reasons. Super-city proposals to break up the water service divisions of North Shore, Manukau, and Waitakere will not serve anyone’s interests well. In the old days, stormwater was managed by council roading departments, but even that will not be possible under the new governance proposals, because roads are to be managed by a separate transport infrastructure agency, which will have little interest, I imagine, in stormwater.

Auckland’s stormwater cannot be allowed to flow through the widening cracks in these reforms. Integrated management of our stormwater assets, ponds, and flow paths is essential. It is also imperative that all water management and control remain within public ownership, with clear accountability mechanisms, transparent pricing, and a strong focus on meeting both ecological and human imperatives. This is a debate that will continue when the third governance bill comes before Parliament later this year, but I think it is important that we signal our concerns now about the negative outcomes of clauses 23 and 24, which are already embedded in the legislation we are dealing with today.

A second and related issue is around who will really plan the super-city, and how. The Government has talked a lot about how the new arrangements will aid effective planning for the region. Indeed, one of the reasons the Green Party supported the super-city proposal to some extent was that we could see that the region would benefit from far more coherent region-wide planning in areas of critical infrastructure such as water and transport. We want to see sustainability at the heart of the new Auckland configuration, and a city where there is a strong, healthy, safe, and fair society living within its environmental limits. The Greens also believe that Auckland should have the right to determine its own destiny without being effectively controlled from Wellington or elsewhere.

We are concerned by recent events that indicate a major shift in the locus of decision making. For example, the Minister of Transport, the Hon Steven Joyce, is leading the charge by seeking to build a four-lane highway from Pūhoi to Wellsford. Despite having had a close association with the Rodney and North Shore Districts over many years, I have never sensed a huge upswelling of local support for such an option, not in the way there was, for example, for the Albany to Pūhoi realignment or for the Northern Busway. The Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway has never figured in any 10-year plan before now, and it is not part of the Auckland regional transport strategy. From what I can gather, the Minister is simply not listening to Government transport officials, who are really uncomfortable about promoting a four-lane motorway when its benefit-cost assessments simply do not stack up against other transport projects. That is putting aside all the arguments about the use of motorways at all, when investing in public transport would be a far more appropriate option.

I further understand that, in the process of establishing the new Auckland transport agency to replace the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, the Minister has indicated that he wants Auckland transport to basically be centrally controlled from Wellington, probably by the New Zealand Transport Agency. Auckland’s right to determine its own future is also being challenged on another front by the existence of the Auckland Transition Agency, whose job it is to construct the detail of the new city. As part of its work it has already completely cut across the Auckland Regional Council’s regional policy statement processes, while the Government itself continues to undermine the Auckland Regional Council’s growth strategy on issues as diverse as motorways, as opposed to public transport; sprawl and coastal development, as opposed to containment; and, of course, through the recent Resource Management Act changes.

RAYMOND HUO (Labour) : Thank you. Mr Chair, for the opportunity to take another call on the Supplementary Order Paper I put forward. It seeks to establish an Asian Advisory Board. Professor Manying Ip, in her endorsement of such a proposal, gave the simple reason that the sheer demographics would mean that Asians could not be ignored in any plans for Auckland.

Apart from those permanent residents, we cannot ignore other demographic factors. For example, the number of international students arriving in New Zealand rose dramatically from the mid-1990s, peaked at more than 120,000 in 2002, and then stabilised at about 95,000 in 2005. Asian students comprise about 87 percent of all international students, with about two-thirds coming from China.

Permanent Asian residents in Auckland, on the other hand, make up 13 percent of the population. As is noted in the royal commission’s report: “Stakeholders from ethnic communities are concerned about how engaged local authorities are in the issues of concern to them, and how their communities are assisted to participate in council processes.” The royal commission’s report notes that ethnic minorities are under-represented on Auckland’s councils. After the 2007 elections, 84 percent of the members of Auckland’s councils identified as European, 9 percent as Māori, 4 percent as Pacific, and 4 percent as Asian.

As a list member of Parliament, based in Auckland, I had the opportunity to attend the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee public hearings in Auckland. The submission by the Families Commission confirmed that the Auckland region is the most socially and ethnically diverse in New Zealand. Effective representation of those socially and ethnically diverse groups has an important role to play in local government, because it will enable them to contribute effectively to their own good and, therefore, to the greater common good.

Local bodies have historically failed to provide meaningful representation and to achieve the participation of ethnic minorities. This is a good opportunity for the Government to remedy the situation. The establishment of advisory panels for Asian communities, along with the Pacific communities, is sensible and meaningful, and it will be effective. This area is not addressed in the Government’s current legislation. Labour supports the establishment of Pacific and Asian advisory bodies. We believe they should be given a statutory purpose, with direct links into the Auckland Council to ensure that they are recognised and are required to meet with the entire council on a regular basis.

Many speakers have emphasised how important Auckland is to New Zealand. Our country is small, so we must be smarter and more diligent. It is particularly important nowadays, when we are living in a world where commercial trade and financial flows are globalised. We cannot afford to become isolated, and that is evidenced by the trend towards small bilateral and regional free-trade agreements. Countries in other regions are becoming increasingly connected by a complex web of trading arrangements. By engaging Asians—our Kiwi Asians—we will help to strengthen the web of trading arrangements.

I am grateful to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Key, who acknowledged, when addressing Peking University in China in April this year, the importance of the free-trade agreement with China, which was signed by the then trade Minister, and current Labour leader, the Hon Phil Goff. Let me quote the Hon John Key: “When we signed the Free Trade Agreement last year we opened an important door, and now our task is to boldly walk through it.”

Similarly, in respect of the super-city bill—and taking into consideration the Supplementary Order Paper that would set up an Asian Advisory Board—we have opened an important door. It is up to the Government to walk through it. Thank you.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : First of all, I congratulate Nikki Kaye. She is the only National member who has spoken since 10.30 this morning.

Hon Members: Oh!

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: That is right. She is the only National member who has spoken since 10.30 this morning.

Chris Tremain: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We canvassed this point earlier today. The Opposition members continue to refer to the absence of members from the Chamber. I think it is totally uncalled for and unnecessary.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I believe the member used his words very carefully. He never referred to the absence of anybody. There is quite a suite of Speakers’ rulings about how members can refer to a member’s participation in the debate without actually talking about the member’s absence. Members have been pretty good about that. The member is skirting with it, but he did not break the rules, so I will not uphold the point of order.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I know that the senior Government whip is a little sensitive and perhaps a little embarrassed that Government members will not get up and defend a Government bill, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. National members will not get up and defend their bill.

This point is quite interesting. When there is a bit of a fight across the Chamber things get a bit lively from time to time. Minister Paula Bennett likes a scrap. She jumps on to teenagers in Henderson and pulls them apart. But when we get to the stage of having a debate in the Chamber, she says nothing—not a thing, at all. All of a sudden, having a battle with the Opposition does not seem too appealing, and that is a very big pity. I would like to hear what Paula Bennett has to say. She is holding her seat in Parliament by 635 votes. That is all. The people out in the west of Auckland want to hear what she has to say about the super-city, the new plan, and the new bill.

Other members are sitting here with the mute button turned on. My very good friend Cam Calder, who stood against me in Manurewa, worked every day from March until election day, knocking on doors and saying how he would represent the people of Manurewa. He has his opportunity now. He has his opportunity during the 16 hours of this debate. But what is he doing? He is sitting there, smiling, and dreaming about playing pétanque or some other game, and how he will be able to go to the community board to ask for some money so people can play that game. I must say that he is the best candidate who has ever stood against me. He actually did some work, and I think that is great. Now he can take it one step further: he can get up and have a say. It is all well and good that he is in Parliament, and I think he is doing better than Richard Worth, but I think he should also start to speak sometimes. He should have something to say on the super-city. That is what we want to hear. What are the member’s views on the super-city? I think that is very important.

Allan Peachey is another guy who I have a lot of time for. I have a lot of time for him. He should have been the Minister of Education. Everyone knows that. I think he was the principal of Rangitoto College. He is an excellent person, and he should have been the Minister of Education. He should get up in the Chamber and start speaking. His colleagues will see that he is better than Anne Tolley if he gets up and starts talking about the super-city, because the super-city is very important.

The other person who I think should get up and start speaking is Melissa Lee. She was one of the first into the debate, really, because she stood as the National Party candidate in Mt Albert. That was one of the big topics—

Hon Darren Hughes: How did that go?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think it was a close thing. We won by only about 10,000 or 12,000 votes. The reality is that people cannot defend a Government by silence. The members who are sitting here now with their mouths closed just cannot do it.

It is interesting. It is a wee bit like an army. John Key is the general, his colonel is at Cabinet, and probably one or two colonels are working there at the moment. He sends out his sergeant-major. His sergeant-major is Rodney Hide, and he makes a lot of noise on the parade ground. He is thumping it out, telling the people of Auckland what a wonderful thing they are getting, and he has his sergeant, John Carter, running around behind him.

At least we know what they think. At least we know what Rodney Hide thinks about this issue. But we do not know what the honourable member Mr Bakshi thinks about it. He sits there silently.

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I first of all acknowledge the work of Dr Paul Hutchison in helping us with the issue of the southern boundary, and in working through it.

I am puzzled by the Labour Party. On the one hand it does not support the super-city, but I wonder whether Mr Phil Twyford—

Hon Member: Who?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: —Phil Twyford will vote for this amendment to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. This amendment is in the name of the Hon George Hawkins, and it intends to adjust the southern boundary. I want to share this amendment with members. This is what the Labour Party wants for Auckland and for New Zealand. The amendment refers to Part 3, clause 18. It states: “Delete (2)(a) and insert the following—”. Members should stay with me because I want Mr Phil Twyford to be very careful about whether he and the Labour Party will be voting for the Hon George Hawkins’ amendment. It inserts the following: “(a) ensure that the southern boundary of Auckland be established …”; I tell Dr Hutchison to wait for it—

Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. I think you will find that the honourable member is referring to an amendment that has been withdrawn some time ago. I would like him to correct his statement.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I am not sure that is a point of order, but perhaps it is helpful for the members.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I can see why they wanted to withdraw it; I asked the Hon George Hawkins whether he was sure that he wanted to do it.

Let me explain what the Labour Party’s plan was. It was to “ensure that the southern boundary of Auckland be established south of the current southern Franklin district … boundary and follows, as closely as practicable, the boundary of the Waikato River catchment …”. Officials have told me that that would include all of Taupō. The Labour Party were moving an amendment to include Taupō in the super-city, and it would have included Tongariro National Park, all of Hamilton, and Tokoroa. I am sorry that Simon Bridges is not here, because it included Tauranga as well.

George Hawkins and the Labour Party—until I rescued them from the embarrassment—were moving that amendment. I ask Mr Twyford what made him change his mind. What saw the Labour Party decide that Hamilton, Taupō, Tokoroa, and Tauranga should not be part of this governance super-city in Auckland? Given that the Labour Party has been so vehement in its criticism of the Auckland super-city and what the Government is doing, why on earth would it want to include Taupō, Hamilton, Tongariro National Park, Tokoroa, Cambridge, and Tauranga in the Auckland Council? I have to say that it sums up the contribution we are having from the Labour Opposition. I just wish we had a better Opposition, because it would make us an even better Government.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua) : That was a most relevant contribution from the Hon Rodney Hide. I was astounded to hear Phil Twyford’s confusion, let alone how it typifies the confusion of the whole Labour Party. It is absolutely mind-boggling that Mr Twyford’s amendment suggested that the boundary should be south of Franklin’s existing boundary.

Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. I wish to correct the member’s statement. The withdrawn amendment was in the name of the Hon George Hawkins.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: That, Mr Chairman, is just as bad, if not worse. Mr Twyford’s comment shows that the spreading infectious confusion is not coming just from him or from George Hawkins. It is undoubtedly cemented in the whole Labour Party. They would never have heard of places like Waikāretu, Aka Aka, Ōtaua or Onewhero, all of which are within the existing southern boundary of Franklin.

I wonder whether it is true that the Labour Party is talking about the real source of the Waikato River, which, indeed, is in the national park. It comes down from Mount Ruapehu, flows into the Tongariro River, and then flows into Lake Taupō. [Interruption] The Hon Rodney Hide is absolutely correct—this is the grasping, nanny State - Labour Party wanting to take over the whole of New Zealand in its unitary authority. What is more, it will probably bring back Helen Clark to run it. We have not heard that theory yet, have we? But that is its plan—to take her away from the United Nations. After all, Phil Twyford is from the United Nations. Labour will bring back Helen Clark to run the super-city and the super - land grab.

I wanted to make a contribution that related to the Manukau Harbour, something one would hope that the Labour members would know a little bit about. Very little has been said about the Manukau Harbour and the difficulty that some constituents of mine have had in trying to set up a ferry service. There are wonderful opportunities there. Constituents of mine have, for the last 6 years, put in great efforts to establish a tourist facility; a facility for children and students to explore the wonders of this great harbour. The unfortunate thing is that despite seeing every relevant mayor, and the Auckland Regional Council, only hurdles and obstructions have been put in the way of establishing appropriate wharves. Nothing has happened.

I can tell members that today I received a letter from Mayor Bob Harvey in which he says: “Thanks for your letter, Paul, regarding the lack of ferry services or ferry facilities for the Manukau Harbour. I have been trying for decades, but I have given up. The Auckland Regional Council do not cover themselves in glory when it comes to enabling development of the coastline to happen. Of course, there are lots of other reasons. But I think this is a task for a new council, for a new way to Auckland to operate as a whole. You will, of course, be aware that the regional council has the most to say about the coastline and about transport within it. So perhaps there is little I can do for you.”

There is no doubt that the bill before us is the very thing we need to get on with expeditiously so that this very important opportunity, which has not been discussed in the Chamber today, can go ahead and allow generations of New Zealanders to enjoy the wonders, the history, and the rich cultural and recreational opportunities of the Manukau Harbour. That will only happen through the mechanism of a bill such as this.

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I am sorry that Labour MP Carol Beaumont has not spoken on her very interesting amendment, because we know that Labour wanted to extend the Auckland super-city to include Hamilton, Taupō, and Tauranga. Carol Beaumont has put forward an amendment to clause 12. The amendment inserts new subclause (6), which states—and I ask members to think about this; Labour members especially, because Mr Phil Twyford has said he will support this amendment—“12(6) This subsection applies if, at any elections held at the same time for a member or members of the governing body or local board and a member or members of Parliament, a person is declared to be elected as a member of the governing body or local board and that person is also declared to be elected as a member of Parliament.”

That would mean that a member would have to resign as he or she could not be a councillor, a local board member, or an MP all at once.

Dr Rajen Prasad: Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Mr Prasad calls out that it is a good thing. I presume that Mr Prasad and Labour members will vote for this amendment.

Dr Rajen Prasad: I will, yes.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: That is very interesting. The problem with the amendment, of course—and I am sorry to break this to Mr Prasad and the Labour Party—is that we do not have elections for Parliament and for councils on the same day, do we. It never happens.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: And your point is?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I say to Ms Dalziel that if Labour members did their work, they would see the point when they read the amendment. The Hon Lianne Dalziel still has not got the point, so I will read it again: “This subsection applies if, at any elections held at the same time for a member or members of the governing body or local board and a member or members of Parliament …”, but they are definitely, by the constitution of New Zealand, never held at the same time.

I just wish that Labour members would do the work on this bill. I wish they would actually care about the Auckland super-council and would understand—and I thought we would be hard-pressed to find a Kiwi who did not know—that we do not vote for members of Parliament and members of councils on the same day. Did Mr Henare know that? Of course he did. Did Mr John Carter know that?

Hon John Carter: Absolutely.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Of course he did. Did Mr Hone Harawira know that? Of course he did.

Hone Harawira: No he didn’t!

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Oh, Hone Harawira did not know that! Well, funnily enough, that is not so surprising when I think about it.

But I would have thought the Hon Trevor Mallard would know. I would have thought that Darien Fenton would know that we do not vote for a member of Parliament and a member of a local council on the same day. Funnily enough, I do not know about Mr Phil Twyford. I thought: “I wonder whether he knows.” I thought, on balance, that he probably would not know. He is going to vote for it. Mr Prasad did not know about it.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Ever heard of a by-election?

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Oh! Trevor Mallard says that it is to apply only if there is a by-election.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Is the member raising a debating point?

Hon Trevor Mallard: No, it is not a debating point at all. The member has misquoted me, and I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): The member is seeking leave to make a personal explanation. Normally that would occur at the end of a call, but the member is seeking leave to make a personal explanation.

Hon John Carter: On what subject?

Hon Trevor Mallard: On the matter that the member has just referred to.

Hon John Carter: Relating to?

Hon Trevor Mallard: By-elections.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Leave is sought. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is objection.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Mr Mallard says that this amendment is to apply only if there is a by-election. So now the Labour members are implying that if there is a by-election—oh, I do not understand. And I do not think the Labour members know what they are up to. I want Mr Phil Twyford to stand in this Chamber, explain why he is voting for this amendment, and explain its legal effect.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Tell the truth Rodney. Stop being a liar!

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order!

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I want Mr Mallard to take a call and explain why I am not telling the truth. I would be happy for him to. I look forward to it. I would like Mr Prasad to explain—[Interruption]

David Garrett: Point of order—

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): No, I think I can capture the point. The member Trevor Mallard has crossed the boundary in relation to allegations of truthfulness, and I ask him to desist.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: It will be very interesting to hear the Labour members, and Ms Beaumont in particular, explain why Labour has an amendment that applies only when an MP is elected on the same day that he or she—that same person—is elected to be a councillor on the new Auckland Council. It beats this Government! Labour members do not need to make personal statements; they need to explain their Supplementary Order Paper.

CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) : I must say that I enjoyed the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee a lot more than I am enjoying this debate. There was much less shouting and bad acting, and there was actually a lot more concentration on the issues at hand. I would like to return to one of the issues at hand, which is that I acknowledge the comments made by some of the earlier speakers about the people who are marginalised through the structural processes of this bill. It was good to hear from Nikki Kaye that youth and disability groups will receive some attention in the third bill, although I did not hear any acknowledgment of the call by Pasifika and Asian groups for advisory committees. I certainly did not hear any more acknowledgment or recognition of the issues of Māori seats and mana whenua, so I am going to return to that topic. I want to talk about it in terms of the history of local government and Māori representation.

Local government has an appalling history of addressing mana whenua issues in Tāmaki and, indeed, right across the motu. That is parallel with a fairly bad record on environmental issues. If members do not believe me, they should just ask the kaitiaki of Tīkapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf; or ask Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei about Ōkahu Bay; or ask Ngāti Te Ata about the Manukau Harbour, which has been used as a toilet for a long time, ever since the council moved the toilet there from the Waitematā; or ask Ngāti Te Ata about the wāhi tapu on the Āwhitu Peninsula. Beyond Tāmaki, right across this country, public toilets and landfills, and marinas and subdivisions have regularly been built on wāhi tapu and kai moana beds, all legally consented to by local government. There are endless ghastly instances of sacred sites and food sources being trampled on by local councils.

In the last few years some councils have faced the mirror to some degree with regard to the marginalisation of tangata whenua as first-nation people, and, indeed, in terms of other groups that are not made up of older, wealthier Pākehā people and that have not managed to get on to local councils. Some of that leadership for change comes from Tāmaki, from Waitakere City Council and Manukau City Council. Manukau City Council, in particular, has been strong on te Tiriti dialogue and cultural recognition. That is not to say it has a totally healthy te Tiriti - based relationship with mana whenua, but at least it has sought advice from wise heads. We look to lose a lot if we lose that kind of spirit. In contrast with that, the Auckland City Council has not been a shining light of cultural respect towards tangata whenua. From the community board level, where in many instances it has failed to give donations and grants to Māori groups, right through to the mayoralty it is hard to recall a single act of real power-sharing instigated by Auckland City Council, despite the best efforts of advisory groups, including the leadership of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei. What does this mean for the future?

Su’a William Sio has talked about the structural failings of this bill. He is correct that local council rhetoric, or indeed Crown rhetoric, about diversity is meaningless without a structural reflection in the law. We have a sorry history in local government in terms of te Tiriti abuse, but we had an opportunity to change that. The mana whenua and Māori seats issues were like a small light at the end of a dark tunnel of structural racism and privilege. But what the hell—what have we done? We are saying Pākehā can represent all those other issues; we do not need the Māori seats. Yet Pākehā have consistently failed, and have demonstrated an absolute inability, to respond to Māori views and values. We certainly cannot be said to represent Māori, so why do we not have the Māori seats?

It is, indeed, with great regret that I continue to raise this matter. I do feel that a really strong opportunity for change was lost here. As I said in an earlier speech to the Committee, the issue was about what the submitters wanted. It is with great sadness that I hear people talk about the need for a strong, forward-moving, regional, unified new authority, when the core opportunity for it to have strength, unity, and a regional perspective on many issues to do with resource management, with the environment, and with justice, which would have been heard through the Māori seats, is lost. Kia ora.

Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) : I am pleased to be speaking again in the debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It has certainly been a long time coming. It has been at least 50 years since concerns and grumblings about the governance of Auckland started. It has not been working and there have been many attempts to fix it. Once the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance got going, consulted, and reported back, it was clear the Government had to move fast. Although the previous Government started this process, it is the current Government that will be finishing it, and that is what this bill is about. It is the second bill of three. Basically, the commission said that reform was urgent, and it stressed that doing nothing would be a high cost to Auckland. The region was suffering from bureaucracy, from stifling red tape, roads were blocked, and businesses and the economy were suffering. That is why we are here today.

I want to touch on the voting system. There has been debate about it already today, and certainly the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee had a number of submissions regarding whether we should have the single transferable vote (STV) system versus the first-past-the-post system. There were a lot of submissions for STV. It was felt it would be more democratic and perhaps would give greater representation of ethnic minorities—very valid points. It is good in theory but I think, unfortunately, it has been very poor in practice.

Essentially, with this bill, which will be in place for the local body elections in September 2010, all of Auckland will be facing a totally new system. It will be totally foreign. Aucklanders will be voting for the Auckland Council, for one super-council if members like to call it that, and 20 to 30 boards. It will be a whole new system. The history of STV in the Auckland area is that it is used for the district health board elections, which have occurred in 2004 and 2007. Quite frankly, I will not say it is a disaster but the number of invalid votes is absolutely phenomenal. They have got worse not better, and the voter turnout is getting poorer, as well. Voters are turning off. Why are they turning off? I guess that is the question. Is it due to the voting system? Is it due to apathy? Who knows? Certainly, I think the voting system is critical. We have to get it right. I think that for the first election the voting system needs to be simple so that people can understand it. It should be first past the post, and after that Aucklanders can decide for themselves what voting system they want to follow. I think that, on balance, the committee felt that would be the best way to go forward.

I want to talk a little bit about remuneration. We had some submissions on the remuneration of the new local board members. Under the current system, community board members get quite a modest salary. It is very modest indeed for the work that they do; one could almost call it voluntary or altruistic-type work. The submitters said to us that that means that the individuals who currently step up either can afford to step up or have the time on their hands to step up, and that possibly people who would like to do so but cannot afford to stop their day job or whatever are precluded. The new local boards will be quite different, with new roles and responsibilities. A paragraph in the commentary on the bill suggests that the Remuneration Authority—we cannot tell it what to do—align the remuneration of the new local board members with the level of responsibility of their work. Hopefully, it will follow through and a whole different range of diverse people will step up. That would be a very good thing.

I want to talk a wee bit about the mayor. I think the election in 2010 in Auckland will be quite exciting. We already have a couple of candidates. Certainly, the new Auckland mayor, he or she—and, who knows, it might be a she—

Hon Steve Chadwick: It should be, shouldn’t it!

Dr JACKIE BLUE: I agree. It would be great to have a female Auckland mayor. The mayor, whoever it might be, will have the huge responsibility of bringing the region together, bringing all areas together. He or she will have to show vision and leadership. They will have 20 councillors to work with. Those councillors will come from all over Auckland. The select committee recommends that one should be from the Rodney District, one from the Franklin District, and so on.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : I want to ask National when Tau Henare will take the call. When will Tau Henare take the call on this particular issue? Tau Henare has had a lot to say publicly on this issue and about the Minister in the chair, Rodney Hide. Tau Henare’s colleague and the spokesperson for Ngāti Whātua, Ngārimu Blair, was reported today as saying that he supports the one person, one vote principle. He supports one person, one vote in here too. He wants to know why Tau Henare is being muzzled. Why can Tau Henare not vote according to his conscience and what he has said publicly in this Chamber? I think it is fair to say that Ngārimu Blair has a very appropriate name. He was named after Ngārimu VC, who has had the highest honour for bravery that a New Zealander can get. We are not asking Tau Henare to be nearly as brave as his relatives; we are asking him to do what he is asking other people to do, and work on the basis, as the Minister has said, of one person, one vote. Why will National not let Tau Henare vote according to his conscience? Why can he not do what Mike Minogue used to do on a regular basis? Georgina te Heuheu has done it, as have a number of other National members. It used to be their kaupapa. It used to be the way that the National members did it, and they were proud. They would say something outside, and they would follow it up inside.

I ask two questions, really. Why does National not have the courage of its convictions to take the whip off Tau Henare? There is not a word, not a whisper, and not a murmur from National about that. Even given that, why does Tau Henare—who has so much to say outside, including some pretty direct descriptions of the Minister in charge of the bill, Rodney Hide—not follow up in this Chamber what he has said outside? It is all very well being a lion in front of the TV cameras, but if he is a mouse in here, there is not much point. What is he doing? Apparently he is in a competition with Nikki Kaye for a list spot in Auckland. They know that they will have some problems there. Jackie Blue has gone already; she is not even part of that competition. But a fight is going on for the last list—

Dr Rajen Prasad: Allan Peachey!

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I think Allan Peachey will be all right. He will win a seat. But a fight is going on for that last spot on the Auckland list. When John Key tells Tau Henare to jump, he is now asking how high he should jump.

I just got slightly confused because George Hawkins is over the other side of the Chamber. Every now and again I think he should be over the other side, but on this occasion he is physically on the other side of the Chamber causing a little bit of confusion.

When Rodney Hide is telling Tau Henare how to vote, it gets to the point of being ridiculous. What sort of member of Parliament do we have? People know I have had a disagreement or two with Mr Henare, but the thing about him is one knows where he stands. He tells us, he is direct, and he is very clear. He has told people all over Auckland that there would be Māori seats and a mana whenua seat or two, as well. I want to know when Tau Henare will get alongside Hone Harawira and do what is right.

Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) : I also want to talk about the Auckland boundaries. I come from the Bay of Plenty, and we proudly set up a Bay of Plenty hub. We had a great meeting with Phil Goff and the mayors of the region, and we talked about the super-city because every region in the country is starting to ponder it. It was very clear from the democratic leaders of our region that we want to have a say. The good people of the Bay of Plenty want to have a say on what the correct and appropriate boundaries are if local government reform extends after the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I told those mayors they could bet their bottom dollar the reforms would extend to the Bay of Plenty. Rodney Hide will not stop as the Minister of Local Government. After the Auckland super-city legislation, he will move out into the regions. I told them it was time we got together so we can design our own future.

When we look at the boundary issue in this bill, we see what a botch-up has been made. It has caused concern and anxiety. People are marching on the streets because they know what is right for them, and that the lines drawn on the map are simply wrong. Those lines are stupid, and it took leaders in the community like Mike Lee from the Auckland Regional Council to say how ridiculous it is to manage the natural assets of the region by separating off an area from the Auckland region and saying we could manage it as one. It was great to see people like Mike Lee stand up and fight the good fight about boundary changes. We can be sure that members around the country from different regions are telling the Government that Rodney Hide, who is a coalition partner and the Minister of Local Government outside of Cabinet, is wielding such power of influence over the National Government—the tail is wagging the dog—that he will extend his fingers down into the rest of New Zealand and will tell them what to do. He will go out there and say that the Government is listening and that the door is always open, and John Key will bounce around behind him and say that his door is also always open and the Government is listening to the good people. But the Government has drawn the lines on the map.

Government members think they know best how local bodies want to manage their own communities of interest and the regional council configuration of local authorities. They have got it wrong in Auckland, and at the last minute they changed what they originally proposed, because the good people of Auckland got up and said that the Government had got it wrong. It took an eleventh-hour visit up to Rodney for a bit of deep and meaningful conversation for the Government to say it would change the boundaries and Rodney could come in. Poor old Dr Paul Hutchison really misses out. The good people of Rodney win, but poor old Dr Paul, who has been a fantastic member for the National Party, advocating for his constituency, has been trampled. The mana of the Māori Party has been trampled because the Minister, who listened and knows best, said there would be no Māori seats on the new Auckland super-council. He said there would be no Māori seats and no representation, as he knows best. He said he will work out a mana whenua relationship; that will please everybody, and then they will go away. Well, the good iwi of Auckland will not go away and the iwi of New Zealand will not go away on this issue. The iwi of New Zealand will remind the Government, after the 2010 local body elections, that they were ignored and trampled over.

Labour set up the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act that allowed three seats on the regional council. That was Mita Ririnui’s bill in 2001, and the good old Nats, the way they used to, let Georgina te Heuheu cross the floor because she felt strongly. But that is not the case any more; they are all muzzled. They all get up in the Chamber and rave, and say they will go out into the community at community rallies and hīkoi, but nothing has changed. The people were not listened to. They were trampled over by the Minister in the chair, Rodney Hide, who dances on the head of a pin about consultation and listening and ignores the good people of Auckland. I think the rest of New Zealand needs to look very closely at this. In the next election they need to watch the power that the minority ACT Party wields over National.

Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) : I want to touch on some of the points that were raised this morning. I know we have moved from the issues around Māori representation and on to ethnic representation and boundary issues, but my colleague the Hon Trevor Mallard raised some relevant issues. It is important that we go back and revisit those issues, because I get the impression that the Government is trying to move this thing along so that the real issues, the ones that people think about on a daily basis, are swept over so we can move on to the mechanical or technical aspects of this legislation. The real debate gets swallowed up and lost.

The Hon Trevor Mallard mentioned the contribution of the Hon Tau Henare, a former Minister of Māori Affairs. I want to revisit some of the comments he made. This is not an attack or challenge to Tau Henare, but to all the Māori members of the National Party. My colleague Steve Chadwick mentioned the absolute support that I received in 2001 from the Hon Georgina te Heuheu on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill, and I know her views on Māori representation in the proposed Auckland super-city remain the same as they were in 2001. She has been very public, although guarded, in expressing her views. When she has spoken in the Chamber, those views, in a subtle way, have challenged the Minister sitting in the chair. She has come out in the open and admitted upfront that she is in support of Māori representation. I am wondering why the Hon Georgina te Heuheu does not come down to the Chamber. I know we are not allowed to comment on why people are not here, but it would be very helpful if she could be consistent in making her views clear to the members of the House.

There are Māori members of the National Party who have not been upfront about their views on Māori representation in the proposed Auckland super-city. I think it is basically because they have been muzzled. Although I acknowledge that some of them are new members, and it will take some time for them to settle into some of the to-ing and fro-ing of political life, there is a time when people have to stand up and be counted. They have to get up and speak their minds. It would also be very helpful if the only remaining member of the Māori Party in the Chamber, Hone Harawira, got to his feet and shared some of his whakaaro with us, because I know they are quite relevant.

We spoke today about boundaries. It is very easy for the Minister to draw boundaries around the proposal for the Auckland super-city, but there are boundaries that overlie the boundaries that are proposed in the legislation. Those are the boundaries of tangata whenua—of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui, and many other iwi who hold mana whenua over that particular area. Before we go any further in speaking about the carve-up of that great city, some consideration has to be given to those ancestral tribal boundaries. I know there has not been sufficient debate on that in the Chamber today.

I am told that there were 287 submissions made to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and I am told that the Hon Tau Henare was very thorough in terms of his consultations around the area. He even went to Waiheke Island to listen to submissions. What he did not say in the Chamber is that those submissions from Māori were made on the basis of their traditional boundaries. In other words, they and they alone have mana whenua over the Tāmaki-makau-rau district. Anyone proposing anything that would affect their mana whenua had an obligation to listen very carefully to what they had to say. For the past 24 hours in this Chamber, the Government has said that it listened. Its members have said that so many times that I think they have convinced themselves that they did listen. In fact, people are ringing in, sending emails, and texting saying “Why didn’t the Government listen to Māori?”. I have to text them back and say: “Well, actually the Government is saying …”. Now, if that is not the case, then they have a case to present to the Government. But I do not think the Government will listen to that, either. In Māoridom we have an old saying: “Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu. Mā te hinengaro, ka mōhio he aha te māramatanga.”

[With feathers a bird will fly. With a mind, one will know what enlightenment is.]

You see, everything around the Auckland proposal for Māori brings up the issue of assets capture. In other words, there is a fear that ratepayer assets will be transferred to some sort of conglomerate that in the future will ring-fence and dispose of them. That is a real fear for Māori in the Auckland area. What will that mean for Māori assets? I think it will mean a lot, as it did in the Bay of Plenty when the Bay of Plenty bill was introduced. There is also the issue around the Government listening but not hearing, as has happened in this case.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : I will make some comments on the issue of boundaries, but first I observe how good it is to see a spark of life on the Government benches. We on this side of the Chamber were getting quite downhearted, noting that there have been only two speeches by National members since 10.30 this morning. We have sent George Hawkins over there to try to even up the numbers. One would think the debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill was a game of soccer in the park on a Saturday morning the way it is going.

One of the most extraordinary and bizarre episodes of this Government’s mishandling of the Auckland governance reforms is its attempt to lop off the northern and southern ends of Auckland. It proposed to consign 25 percent of the land area to outside the super-city. The proposal had heads shaking all over the city of Auckland. In an exercise that was really designed to integrate and build a more cohesive Auckland, here was the Government lopping off 25 percent of the land area, including some of our most important, beloved, and spectacular natural assets. If we look at Rodney District we see that the Government proposed to put the very precious northern beaches—those north of Waiwera—and a number of our regional parks outside the Auckland boundaries.

Darien Fenton: Crazy!

PHIL TWYFORD: It is absolutely crazy, as my colleague Darien Fenton just commented. It is very hard to know how the Associate Minister of Local Government, John Carter, ever came to the conclusion that it was a good idea. I was on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and I heard the submissions that people in Rodney gave when the committee sat in Rodney. There was diversity of opinion, but for the Associate Minister to just lick his finger and stick it in the wind as a way of making an important decision like this, and to blindly ignore the advice of the royal commission on where the boundaries should go, seems utterly bizarre. It was really only the campaigning by the Auckland Regional Council chairman, Mike Lee, and his pointing out the situation to Aucklanders and alerting them to the fact that some of our most precious parks and northern beaches were going to be given away that aroused public opinion.

We saw an admirable example of listening, but that listening process exposed some seriously deficient decision-making. We saw at the eleventh hour, 24 hours before the bill came back to the House, a panicked move by the Government to bring north Rodney back into the fold. The citizens of Warkworth, Matakana, Omaha, Pakiri, and Leigh breathed a big sigh of relief. But that leaves the problem of Franklin, the fact that the current boundary goes through Pukekohe and Waiuku, and the fact that Hunua’s Mangatawhiri Dam and Mangatangi Dam, which hold 54 percent of Auckland’s bulk water supply, and three regional parks outside Auckland’s boundaries were just given away. If Mr John Carter listened to the people of Auckland he would realise that that is the last thing they want to see happening in the new super-city.

One has to wonder what the difference is. There is a direct analogy in looking at the cases of Rodney and Franklin. The arguments the royal commission made about providing sufficient rural land to act as a buffer against the pressures of urban development have just been ignored. The member for Rodney attended a meeting with 200 angry people in Warkworth last Saturday. That was enough, it seems, to turn the Government round on this important decision.

Hon David Cunliffe: It wasn’t enough on trees or the hīkoi.

PHIL TWYFORD: That is true, and it was not enough that several hundred people attended meetings over the last few months in Franklin. That has not enabled the MP for Hunua, Paul Hutchison, to get his way—poor old Paul Hutchison.

I will make some comments that I did not get to during my last speech. We were talking about single transferable vote earlier in the afternoon and the fact that the Government has decided that first past the post is to be the voting system for the first elections, in spite of the fact that single transferable vote is fairer and more representative.

BRENDON BURNS (Labour—Christchurch Central) : I am very pleased to take a call on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. As a Christchurch MP I can say that if we ever approach local government restructuring in Canterbury, I only hope that we do it a hell of a lot better than what has been done here with this rushed, inconsistent, and often flawed process.

In my view, local government is about two things. First, it is about representation. The bill should be about the best possible representation for the people of Auckland. Second, local government is about the relationship between those people who have been elected to run the super-city and those who have elected them. It should not be about any of us, in effect, as central government politicians. It most certainly should not be about any agendas that central government politicians might have.

One of the things that struck me about the bill from the outset is the potential it presents, in bringing together the Auckland councils, for privatisation of Auckland assets. That remains a very real and key concern. We are bringing together in the Auckland super-city some $28 billion worth of assets—most notably, assets such as Ports of Auckland and Watercare Services. They are very much two glittering prizes for privatisation, and certainly many in the investment community would look at them as such. There is nothing in the bill to protect those assets. I acknowledge the very good work that my colleague Phil Twyford has done to promote that issue, through a website and other means.

But I believe that in other policy settings the Government is going the other way, towards the potential for privatisation. I note most particularly that in March the Government announced a review of foreign ownership, to make it easier for foreigners to invest in this country. Even more recently, it announced that any Australian investment body wanting to buy assets in New Zealand can now do so up to a limit of $500 million—that is, half a billion dollars in assets. Of course, the net effect, even though the investors are our good friends from Australia, is the same. It still has the potential to drive our current account deficit to become even wider, to drive our dollar further upwards, along with our interest rates, and, in effect, to make us beggars in our own land.

Water is the basis of the new economy, and Watercare Services will be providing water to over a million New Zealanders in Auckland. If we have in Mr Hide—and this is not anything contentious—a very strong belief in the privatisation ethic, and if we have embodied and articulated in him a belief that core services do not even stretch to the provision of such essential services, in my view, as libraries, then the potential for privatisation is very strong.

Another comment I will make is around the formation of the new community boards or councils. I support them as a very good concept, but the key for any community board or council is the resourcing and funding it receives. In Christchurch we have about half a dozen of these bodies. They are served by very well-motivated people who work very hard on behalf of their particular sections of the Christchurch community. But I have to say that their powers are very limited. They can, for instance, decide where a bus stop can be sited, but they have no power over transport issues, like the running of bus services. They can fund the resowing of a sports field, but they do not have the capacity to purchase or create a sports field. I think the key to the successful future of the boards in Auckland comes back to the same thing. It comes back to the resources and funding they have, and the protections that are in place to ensure that publicly owned resources remain in public hands. I am not convinced that that is provided for in this bill.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn) : As an Auckland member I have been very interested in this debate about the difference between Rodney and Franklin. Ostensibly, both are in the same sorts of circumstances. Rodney was all-in, then it was half out, and now it is back in. Franklin was in, then half out. Government members say that the formation of local boards is about the watershed, not the community of interest, but the main principles of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill are around community of interest. That is the way the Government has argued the formation of local boards. I will get to that issue.

Apart from the boundary issue looking like a complete muddle, a complete shambles, the mystery for me was unanswered until the penny dropped. A Minister responsible for the bill, John Carter, is also the chairman of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and is also the member of Parliament for the district that got its way. A Minister responsible for the bill is the chairman of that committee. That is a complete conflict of interest, of which I know no precedent in my time in Parliament. That Minister is also the local member for one of the highly disputed territories. I bet that the honest, hard-working member Paul Hutchison wishes he were the Minister. He would have fixed it for his people. Why was he left out in the cold?

Have we ever heard anything as ridiculous as defining an electoral boundary on a watershed that runs contrary to a community of interest? The bill is devoid of logic and principle at that level. It is devoid of logic and principle and shows all the signs of a Government that is unravelling—as if we needed another example after the emissions trading scheme. The Government has a deal with the Māori Party one day and a deal with Labour the next. If the Māori Party deal only goes as far as the select committee, the Government thinks it had better get back into bed with Labour if we will still have it. What a shambles! Here is a Government that is embracing “Muldoonism” with a smile that is looking raggeder and raggeder by the day. But I will move on to the next issue.

Hone Harawira: Raggeder?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: “Raggeder” seems to roll off the tongue, like “Hon-ourable Hon-e”. It evokes what it true of the Government: that it is fraying around the edges on important issues like Auckland. But that is a shame, because the Auckland issues are hugely important to New Zealand. We accept the argument—in fact, we proposed it—that if Auckland succeeds, New Zealand has a better chance of succeeding. Auckland needed to pull together better, we needed clearer definition of regional services, and we needed stronger regional organisation. That is why we set up the royal commission. Not everything in the royal commission report was what we wanted, but it is one thing to disagree with the royal commission’s report and another to replace the 800-page document with a 20-page political manifesto that was absolutely designed to gerrymander the politics of Auckland. That is why we called National’s response “Making Auckland Bluer”. That was what it was about.

That process has continued right through the legislation. It is very pertinent in the multi-member wards and it is very pertinent to the structure of the local boards. I suspect that before the Government took a position on how many boards there should be it crunched a lot of numbers. I suspect that the Government studied all the permutations of where the boundaries could be drawn and worked out, on the balance of probabilities, the number of wards there would have to be for the best chance of there being a right-leaning council. You can bet your bottom dollar that that is what this issue is about, because there is no other demonstrable logic to it.

Hon Steve Chadwick: The Minister smiles.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Minister in the chair, John Carter, smiles because he knows he has done a hatchet job on the councils of Auckland. He knows it is a hatchet job. He is smirking in the chair because he knows there is not a damn thing Auckland can do about it now.

Hon Steve Chadwick: Done to a dog’s—

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It is done like a dog’s dinner. Auckland was done when the first Auckland bill was rammed through under urgency, and we are back here again in urgency to ram through this bill in the dead of the afternoon. That is what it is doing: ramming it through in the dead of the afternoon.

All National can muster is the member for Tauranga. He is here to try to defend Government interests. Do we know why that member is here? He does not want to see John Carter carving up his city council. He is saying that the fight starts at the Bombay Hills and that John Carter cannot come over them.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : Thank you for the opportunity to speak. In terms of the boundaries, one has to ask why the Government is so determined to hand over Auckland’s dams to the Waikato Regional Council. We heard many contentious issues as we listened to the people of Auckland take the time to submit on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. One of those issues was the northern and southern boundaries. It is quite good that the Government decided to change its mind at the eleventh hour on the northern boundary. I suppose it did so because its secret agenda had been revealed for all to see. The Government was linking itself closely to Mr Hide’s business people who want to develop that part of northern Rodney without having to go through the normal council consent process.

But we have to come back to the southern boundary and to recognise that the bill proposes to partition the Franklin District, with the north joining the Auckland Council and the southern part joining the Waikato District Council. Some members of this House would have received a recent email from Mr Colin Bull, who feels strongly about this issue. So strong is his belief that he believes that the National Government, to which he is affiliated—I am not sure whether he is a supporter or a member of the National Party, but nevertheless he is quite close to it—is making the wrong decision. Funnily enough, when the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee was in Papakura and then in Franklin, listening to submitters, I said to the chairman, the Hon John Carter, that National will get bitten by this bill. I could hear the anger of the submitters, and I said that I thought they were mainly National supporters. He turned to me and said: “What do you mean, saying they are our supporters? They are our members!”. People there were fund-raisers for the National Party, and they are the people the Government will have a problem with.

One of the media headlines yesterday was: “Nat MP critical of super-city boundary back-down”. The member for Hunua, Dr Hutchison, said: “… the boundary goes through the streets of Waiuku,”. The southern boundary is critical because not only will critical water supplies—54 percent of Auckland’s total water supply—be cut off but also prime regional parks land, including three major regional parks, all paid for by Auckland ratepayers and all managed by the Auckland Regional Council, will be given away. The boundary divides the towns of Waiuku and Pukekohe, separating the residents of northern Franklin from essential services and infrastructure. Earlier today, the chair of the Auckland Regional Council stated in a press release: “This is absurd and definitely not good local government.” The call we make to the Government on behalf of the people of Auckland is that it is not too late to change the southern boundary, to save face, and to get things right. The Government should listen to the people of Auckland.

The other area that is contentious, in so far as the people of Auckland are concerned, is the local boards. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance came out, after 18 months of extensive research and consultation, and said that, yes, there would be a unitary authority, and underneath that unitary authority there would be local boards of sufficient size to meet and manage the existing needs of the ratepayers of Auckland, and also of sufficient size to recognise that the transition from the existing eight local territorial authorities to a single unitary authority would take time. It would need more time than the Government gave the people of Auckland when it rammed the first Auckland bill through under urgency. During the select committee process people felt they were not given enough time. The process was hasty and rushed, and, of course, the experience of many Aucklanders is that when Governments do that, they get things wrong.

SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) : It is very good to take a call in this debate. I say to the members of the Opposition that if they pipe down a little they will be able to hear me, and I know they want to hear what I have to say. I wanted to take a call this morning, but like the National Party and like the Government I have been too busy listening. National members love to listen. I have been listening carefully to what members have been saying.

I was interested to hear what Carol Beaumont had to say right at the end of last night, and I was interested to hear Kelvin Davis earlier this morning. Of course, Carol is the fresh, dynamic face of Labour. She is a unionist, I think. She is clearly a more dynamic, fresh face than Kelvin Davis is, because Kelvin is only a principal. Unionism is a much better career path to get ahead in the Labour Party. What they both said was interesting, and it had a superficial appeal. They were saying that it does not matter that people say they are listening, listening, listening; if they are not listening and it is just a mantra, it does not mean anything. I agree with that. What they are saying is perfectly right. Too often, I think, in politics we have mantras and we say things, but if they do not have meaning behind them, they are not worth the paper they are written on or the air in which they are expelled. So that is no good. It is a bit like Phil Twyford and the secret privatisation agenda campaign he has been running. What is it called?

Phil Twyford: Not Yours to Sell.

SIMON BRIDGES: It does not matter how many times the member says “Not yours to sell”—and he could get some second-rate guitarist to do him a song—[Interruption] That got them going. It does not matter how many times he says that; if there is no substance there, if there is no secret privatisation agenda, then it does not mean anything.

The difficulty for Carol and for Kelvin, and for my earnest friend Phil Twyford, is that, actually, National members were listening. New Zealand really liked the fact that we acted on what we heard. Let me give members a couple of examples. Labour members do not like this, because they want to say the Government was not listening and nothing happened. The first example concerns the local boards. We changed the shape and the form of those local boards and we beefed up their powers substantially, because of what we heard at the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. We made changes based on what we heard from Nikki Kaye’s “Waihetians” from Waiheke. We heard from people in Devonport, whom Phil Twyford got to know a little during the election campaign. We also listened to the people in Māngere and the people in Waitakere. We heard what they said. We heard that they wanted a more inclusive, lower-to-the-ground local board that listens to what they say, and we acted on that.

Dr Rajen Prasad: And you gave them one with no power.

SIMON BRIDGES: We do not need a commissioner for social inclusion, actually, I say to Rajen Prasad. We gave the local boards the powers they need. We listened, and we acted, and we changed things. What about the councillors? There will be 20 from local wards. There were going to be some at-large councillors. I will be honest: I went into the select committee process thinking that at-large councillors was a good idea. I thought it would allow elected people to stand back and take the whole region’s interests into account. I, superficially, quite liked that idea. But we heard from the people of Auckland. We heard an overwhelming number of submissions from people from diverse communities, and they did not like the idea of at-large councillors.

Phil Twyford: Were you on the select committee, Simon? I never heard you say anything.

SIMON BRIDGES: The member never heard me say anything because I was too busy listening. I remember one lady, from the North Shore, I think, who said that as a member of Parliament I am elected to a constituency and I have to listen.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : I am glad to see that John Carter is the Minister in the chair, and I am wondering whether he could answer a question. I must say I was delighted that the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, actually rose to answer one question I asked, but I had one other question, which the Minister has not yet answered, and it concerns the clause dealing with the role of the Mayor of Auckland. Subclause (3) of clause 9, “Mayor of Auckland”, states that the mayor and the mayor alone has the power “to establish processes and mechanisms for the Auckland Council to engage with the people of Auckland, whether generally or particularly”. Does this power override the Local Government Act? Can this particular clause override the consultation procedures set out in the Local Government Act? I would be very appreciative if the Associate Minister of Local Government, John Carter, was able to answer that question

I am worried about what might happen in a year or so. If, for example, John Banks achieves his ambition and becomes the Mayor of Auckland, and then achieves his further ambition to sell off some of the Auckland Council’s $28 billion of assets, Aucklanders might wake up and ask why they had not been consulted. They might ask why no one had gone through a consultation process on such a major issue—or even on a minor issue—and they might be puzzled as to how it had happened. Then they would realise it was because of a provision in this bill. If John Carter is not able to answer this question, then maybe another member of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, like Phil Twyford, can. Maybe George can answer it. Was a legal opinion given on it? I think it is a very serious issue. Did someone on the committee ask why the mayor has such extensive powers and is able to choose the mechanism by which people are consulted? I wonder whether the select committee was given a legal opinion as to whether this provision overrides the Local Government Act. It is a serious concern, and I do not want Aucklanders to wake up in a couple of years’ time and ask how it happened. I do not want them to find that it happened because Parliament was asleep or had not recognised the implications of this particular clause. So I would really appreciate it if Mr Carter could answer that question about the mayoral powers of consultation.

I know that Mr Carter has become irritated with my questioning some of the functions that he believes the local boards will have, but let me take this opportunity to congratulate John Carter on providing excellent and impartial chairing of the submission process. The only thing I would say is that when I was there I felt he raised the expectations of submitters that a whole lot of new powers would be given to the local boards, and I think they will be deeply disappointed when they discover that the powers are very limited—especially by the veto power of the Auckland Council.

The other issue I want to raise is the cost of this huge transition. Rodney Hide said in a speech that local government representatives were coming to see him to complain about the tens of millions of dollars of costs being imposed on local government by the National Government, the Government of the day. Yet this bill will impose a huge amount of cost on Auckland ratepayers. The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance estimated that the cost of the transformation from the eight existing councils to the super-city would be $120 million to $140 million. In answer to questions raised in the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee the Government members could only say they thought it would be about the same amount—$120 million to $140 million. As for the benefits, they hoped the super-city would bring annual savings of between 2.5 and 3.5 percent. So the first question is where the $120 million to $140 million will come from, especially given that Vote Local Government approved only $10 million for the implementation of the recommendations. Where will the rest of the $120 million to $140 million come from? Why have we not been given proper costings, not just some vague estimate by the royal commission, of how much it will all cost? We now know that Auckland ratepayers will have to foot the whole bill. Also, what are the estimated savings?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) : I want to pick up on the issue of costs, which was raised by the previous speaker, Sue Kedgley. A very interesting little group in Auckland—the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board—has raised a very real issue of concern about what will happen to the status of the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act. The Act was passed last year by the Labour Government. That issue is also of concern to Labour members. The board had a meeting with the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, and I heard back—as I am the Opposition spokesperson on arts, culture and heritage—that he was incredibly dismissive and rather arrogant. He listened but, again, went away. We do not know what will happen. The Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board has no confidence, and it is feeling huge anxiety.

The board has an enormous responsibility to use rates from the region to fund the Auckland Festival Trust, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Auckland Theatre Company, Auckland Zoo, Coastguard Northern Region, the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, NBR New Zealand Opera, the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, Surf Life Saving Northern Region, and WaterSafe Auckland. Those are huge amenities and they are managed by the funding board. The board members met with the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Christopher Finlayson, and he did give them a better hearing but he could not give them any reassurance whatsoever. We are debating the second Auckland bill under urgency, and there is absolutely no transition planning about what on earth will happen to the funding board. I think that is shameful.

Auckland has many good community organisations and facilities that deserve certainty and security of ongoing funding in this transitional phase. The ramming of this Auckland super-city bill through the House under urgency in order to be ready for the 2010 election causes uncertainty and anxiety for many, many organisations in Auckland. There has been nothing from the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage about the way that the funding board will be supported, and certainly there has been nothing from Rodney Hide about it. The Local Government Act, which was Labour’s reform of local government, talks about cultural, social, and economic well-being. Well, a lot of the organisations I have mentioned come under that cultural umbrella. We all want the super-city legislation to produce a vibrant city, but the arts community in Auckland has no security of ongoing funding, at all. That is appalling. At the end of this urgency period this bill will be passed, the Government having said with high-handed arrogance: “We listen. We know what’s best for Auckland. We’ll sort it out—don’t worry.” It came out with platitudes like “Don’t worry, your future is safe in our hands.” It is certainly an issue that the funding trust has no security of ongoing funding. It has funding until 2010, but what happens beyond the next local body election?

I think the arts community of Auckland, which is vibrant and is the heart of New Zealand’s economic driver as its major city, deserves better in terms of long-term security of funding for the iconic Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the theatre company, opera, and all those other wonderful organisations, such as the Auckland Festival Trust. It deserves better. It is a funding agency, but it is caught in the transition from the protection it was given last year by the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act to the new super-city. Those sorts of issues are absolutely major, and they give the good people of Auckland no confidence that, with the passing of this second Auckland bill, the Government will dot the i’s and cross the t’s during the transition period in these uncertain times.

I wanted to bring up the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board. It plays a wonderful part in the vibrancy of Auckland in connecting communities through the arts, festivals, and events. It deserves certainty.

Hon JOHN CARTER (Associate Minister of Local Government) : Two or three points have been made that I think are worth responding to, but I will start by saying that one of the things we have been waiting to hear about from Opposition members is the actual principle about the things they consider are important. Opposition speakers have gone into a whole lot of minor detail. I am very disappointed in the Opposition’s debate, because the bill is significant. Passing the bill is one of the biggest things that will happen in the House during this term of Parliament. We are debating a measure that will affect a third of our country, the powerhouse of our country, and it matters. We are setting up a regional structure that will look after things in Auckland. With rare exception, I have not heard Opposition members saying that the legislation is important for New Zealand and that they support it. One or two of them have referred to it, to be fair, but they have not bothered to debate why it needs to happen.

In fact, most members opposite agree with the bill. But they should be saying so, because it is important legislation. If members agree with it, then they should be standing up and saying that it will be good for Auckland and good for New Zealand. Unfortunately, they are not telling the public about the wonderful opportunity that is being set up, which the previous Labour Government began and which the National Government has picked up and made happen. We will put in place a structure that will ensure that the future of Auckland is secure and that those things that matter on a regional basis will be dealt with. That is really important for us to say and to understand.

There has been some comment about the issue of local boards, and I think it is important for us to spend a little bit of time debating it. I know that some members—Sue Kedgley is one of them—are still concerned that we have not got it right. She and I will agree to disagree on that. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. One of the things the royal commission report talks about is local councils, and I suspect that much of it was influenced by one of its members, David Shand. He was a Labour candidate some time ago and a real leftie. He has disappointed me. The Shand report was a failure, and I suspect that his input into the royal commission report was not much better.

I draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that the chairman of the New Zealand Community Boards, Mike Cohen, whom most members opposite will know, as do most of our members, has said that he is very pleased with the Government’s decisions in respect of the number of local boards we are putting up and the powers they are being given. I also draw the Committee’s attention to the commentary on the bill. It is important for members opposite to remember what Labour’s minority report says about local powers. Labour actually agrees with what the Government has done about local powers. Labour does not agree with the number of local boards, and I accept that. It says there should be 14 to 20 boards, and we say there should be 20 to 30. We are not that far away; the Opposition has shifted a lot. With regard to local powers, the Labour Opposition agrees with what the Government has said.

If we look at what the Green Party members have said—although I accept that they, and especially Sue Kedgley, have some concerns—we see that in the main they are not saying that what we are endeavouring to do in respect of local powers is wrong. They are just concerned as to whether we have got it right. As I have said, we will find out as we move forward. I say to listeners and to the Committee that the issue of local boards is absolutely important, and the majority of the Committee agrees with the powers that the Government is giving to the local boards. That is important.

There has been some debate about the issue of community groups, and I remind members that part of the responsibility for the transition will be determined by what is in the third bill on Auckland governance. I make the point that this is an ongoing process. We started with one bill, we are nearly finished now with the second bill, and there will be a third bill. A lot of detail will come through in the third bill that members will take a great deal of interest in, as they should. That detail will be part of what makes the whole thing happen. The third bill will address a lot of the concerns that members have. We will decide in the third bill whether we need to instruct the unitary authority or make a recommendation to the unitary authority as to how it should deal with the community groups and the funding issues that the member Steve Chadwick raised.

Hon Steve Chadwick: It’s very important.

Hon JOHN CARTER: It is absolutely important, and we concede that. We know that the issue of funding has to be dealt with, and the sorts of issues that the member raised in respect of the organisations and their funding will be dealt with in the third bill. It is a work in progress, and those issues will be dealt with. Believe you me, those issues will be addressed, and when we come to debate them the member will see the Government’s intention and see how the issues will be dealt with. We have not forgotten them; we certainly understand how important they are.

I remind members that part of this work was always going to have to proceed in steps. We had to make a decision as to whether we would set up the super-city, and we did so in the first bill. We had to make some decisions as to how many local boards and wards there would be, and then we had to pass that over to the Local Government Commission. That is what we have done. The commission will now go through its process, and at the end of it the commission will come out with a decision on the number of councillors, the number and shape of the wards, and the number and shape of the local boards. Then we will pass the third bill, which will make sure that the structure is right and that the work that local communities want done can happen. Just as important is that the Auckland Transition Agency will be doing its work.

For some reason the Opposition seems to be saying that this should have happened yesterday, and because it did not we have got it wrong. We never said we would get it right in the first instance. It has been a long process. One thing we can give this Government credit for is that the process has been a heck of a lot shorter than it would have been if that lot opposite had been in power, because they would never have got round to doing it. That is very important for members to understand.

With regard to the issue of mayoral powers, which Sue Kedgley raised, although we have recommended that we want the mayor and the council to consult, that does not override the Local Government Act. Members should bear in mind that some changes may be coming forward as Rodney Hide, I, and others work on those sorts of issues. Nevertheless, that does not override the need for consultation.

I will finish on one other point that I think is very important. I pick up the comments that Hone Harawira made last night. I thought his address was very good, and I compliment him on it. His comments were around the issue of Māori seats. The Opposition has raised the issue a lot, and Hone Harawira picked up on it and was just as cynical as I am about the Opposition’s position on the Māori seats. We had a contribution from my colleague from up north, Shane Jones—and it is funny that all three of us are part of the debate on Māori seats. He made the comment that he did not think there should be mana whenua seats. He made that comment here in the Chamber, and he still believes it. The fact is that he said that to us and a number of people in the Chamber. At least he was honest enough to stand up and say it. What really concerns Hone Harawira, me, and, I think, Shane Jones is that it took the Labour Opposition a long time to decide whether it would do anything about the Māori seats, then it cynically decided that it needed to get on the bandwagon.

That is the very point that Hone Harawira made last night. He thinks the decision of the Labour Opposition to support having Māori seats was cynical. At least he knew where he stood with Rodney Hide, and he knows where he stands with the National Government, but the Labour Opposition played around with the idea until it thought that maybe there was a bit of value in it. That is unfortunate, and it is what worries me about this debate. We should be looking at the issue constructively, because it is hugely important. It really does worry me that all we are hearing from the Opposition is commentary on minor things that have no major impact at all, instead of concentrating on the things that matter—on the fact that we are putting in place a structure that will affect one-third of this country. We will get the regional stuff right and we will get the local boards right. We know it is work in progress, and we know there is a lot of work ahead of us yet. There will be another select committee process, the Local Government Commission will work on the legislation, and the Government will get it right as we move forward.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : I will talk about the issue of the local boards, which is a very important issue. I think it is important to break up the Northlanders who are participating in this debate, because, quite frankly, we need more Aucklanders and fewer Northlanders participating. The issue of the local boards is one that has—

Simon Bridges: Finish your mouthful! What is this?

PHIL TWYFORD: Sorry, I have a lozenge because I have a sore throat. The question of the local boards is one of the issues that have been intensively debated over the last few months. I will outline the process that we have gone through and some of the thinking that has gone into the whole question of the local boards.

The issue of the powers of the local boards was one of the most important that we dealt with, and people will know that Labour members criticised heavily the Government’s proposal for toothless “talk shops”, which were announced in April. We took the view, in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, that fewer, stronger, and larger boards were preferable to having myriad small, relatively powerless local boards. We said publicly back in April and May that we favoured a number between the six local boards that the royal commission had recommended and a dozen. We shared the royal commission’s view that if the boards were too small, they would not have the capability to do the important local government place-shaping work, which everyone agrees is essential in this whole area, and we agreed with the royal commission’s view that any kind of cost-benefit analysis could not justify the destruction of six functioning units of local government and their replacement with 20 to 30 small ones, and that such a change would be disruptive and expensive.

Much of the debate over the weeks that followed focused on the powers of the local boards. I am glad to acknowledge that the Government saw sense and listened to people around Auckland who were appalled at the prospect that all the power would basically be centralised in the super-city council, and there would be none at the second-tier level. The Government saw sense, and the Associate Minister of Local Government, who is in the chair, deserves some credit for that. I will come back to the question of whether the powers provided for the local boards in the bill are satisfactory and sufficient, but there is no doubt that once we agree in principle to the idea of empowering local boards, the size and number of them becomes less critical. From then on, our view was that a greater number of boards would be quite acceptable, because once we take the question of powers out of the equation, community of interest rather than capability becomes the most important criterion. When we look across Auckland we see that many smaller communities like Waiheke and Great Barrier Island, which are island communities, obviously, have a clearly established community of interest. We felt that rather than the six to 12 local boards that we were initially advocating, something like 14 to 20 would be a more appropriate range.

We took that view because we believed that there are a range of large and small communities in Auckland that have an established community of interest. To go with the number of local boards that the Government has put forward in the bill, which is 20 to 30—if we contemplate the idea of 30 local boards across Auckland—would mean that many of the larger established communities of interest like Waitakere and Manukau would be dismembered and chopped up into small pieces. When the select committee toured around Auckland hearing submissions it was very clear that people in various parts of Auckland felt they had been well served by their councils. They felt those councils represented communities of interest.

I will also say that one of the main concerns for Labour in taking a more conservative approach to the number and the size of local boards was that we felt that the boards need to have a certain critical mass, a certain size, in order to be able to do the place-shaping work. I will use a couple of examples from Waitakere City that are relevant. One of the most impressive things about Waitakere is the economic development work that the council has done, developing quite large areas—

Hon David Cunliffe: Does Rodney Hide believe in that?

PHIL TWYFORD: It is an active state; it is active local government. It is one of the four well-beings. It certainly does not fit within his definition of core services.

Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) : Kia ora anō tātou. Mr John Carter, who is sitting next to you, Mr Chairperson, made reference to the fact that there is an absence of content in the speeches that we have been offering on this side of the Chamber in the Committee stage of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. That is gross. That is not only wrong but unfair.

I will start with the boundaries. There is no rhyme or reason why the people of Rodney have been put through a roundabout of emotional turmoil while National addresses its own constituency agendas as it tries to draw the boundary in Rodney. There was no principle there. It suited that party to ransack the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance to suit its own political, petty, short-term objectives. This side of the Committee has not done that. This side of the Committee has acted, in so far as the royal commission goes, with great integrity.

I put on record that the references I have made to mana whenua being unworkable and an assault on established democratic standards are revealed in that wretched Supplementary Order Paper put forward by the Māori Party that says that everyone has to first declare his or her whakapapa. Something akin to a genealogical unit would need to be set up to establish how much of someone’s genealogy belongs to a particular mana whenua tribe. Those issues do not belong in civic space; they belong in the space of the marae. Complicated democratic procedures ought not to be entangled with matters that have to do with marae entitlement, customary ancestry, and the affairs of tangata whenua.

Simon Bridges: So all your colleagues who have been going on about it all week have been wrong?

Hon SHANE JONES: We are hearing there from the man who was regarded as a cultural truant when he attempted to speak at the mana whenua, tangata whenua Māori subcommittee on representation. It was evident that that young man, who has senatorial pretensions in Tauranga, is the self-defined prodigy of the National Party. He boasts in Tauranga, with his senatorial ambitions, that every day he does something it is worth 20 years of Winston Peters’ life of service. Of course, we also find every time that young man comes to the Chamber that he does not rant; he pants. He runs from mirror to mirror, so we know exactly how he was regarded on this issue of being Māori. If I were regarded as and called a cultural truant, I would go back to kōhanga reo.

I come back to the issue of mana whenua. It is a legitimate aspect of Māori identity. We in the Labour Party, however, did not feel that it would address the entirety of the Māori population living within the area of Auckland. That, I say to Mr Carter, is a very important point of principle. We could have taken the soft option and agreed with the Māori Party, and operated on the politics of apologia, but we took what was a very hard, but tried and true, option. That is that if a person belongs to a Māori iwi and he or she is on the Māori roll, then that person is entitled to vote, not only if he or she is from Ngāti Whātua or Tainui, and not only if that party is doing secret deals with the big iwi so that funds could be gathered for the next election and the basic working-class Māori could be sold out on climate change. We did not take that route; the Māori Party took that route. Those members are the ones who have favoured the pūtea table over the kitchen table.

It is not correct for the Minister in the chair to say there was no principle or kaupapa. We do not want to turn mana whenua debates into a new gravy train or grievance mentality as to which hapū, which marae, or which tribe ought to be sitting at the council table. We wanted, on the basis of citizenship, those Māori who are entitled to vote for their parliamentary Māori representatives in this Chamber to have the same level of entitlement in the area of Tāmaki-makau-rau Auckland. The perversity of the Māori Party’s mana whenua argument is that Pita Sharples himself would not have been able to be voted into this Parliament. That occurred to us a long time before it occurred to the Māori Party members, but it probably suited them, and the Māori National Party members, who came up with such a complicated model that it was designed to fail. There is a massive point of principle here, and I will debate that principle on every marae in this country. We are here for te iti me te rahi—all Māori voters of Auckland, not the favoured, privileged few who might have marae in Auckland urban areas. Kia ora tātou.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : I was listening very, very hard to what the Minister in the chair, John Carter, was saying a little earlier, and I was wondering how he would design a car. I suspect that Mr Carter would perhaps design the steering wheel first and say that he has the steering wheel. Having done that, he might have stage two, where he might decide what the body of the car might look like, and he then would take another 6 months to decide on the body.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I am sorry to interrupt the member. This cross-exchange here has nothing to do with the member speaking. I ask those members to show courtesy to the member speaking.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. A very controversial point about the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill is the entitlement of Māori to be represented in the system of governance. I have challenged a member on the other side of the Chamber—

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): Thank you, Mr Jones. You brought that up when you were speaking, and there will other opportunities to take further calls. I ask you to respect Dr Rajen Prasad.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: Then Mr Carter would wonder what kind of engine would be required at stage three, and he would then set about designing an engine. In the end, he would have a dog’s body. When Mr Carter talks about this legislation being well designed—that we will have stage one, stage two, and stage three—and somehow expects at the end of it that some logic will emerge, he is defying logic and good science.

I think that anybody who designs such a major constitutional change ought to accept the responsibility, and the National Government ought to internalise its responsibility to really give a much broader sense of where all the parts would fit so we could, at any one point, look at the whole thing at the same time. I think that is a responsibility the Government has failed in, so we now have to do stage two of the reforms and come back in a few months’ time to do stage three. We are promised that in stage three all these problems will be solved. It will be too late by then because some of the problems of stage three are being enshrined in stage two, in this particular legislation, right now. I think that is a silly way of designing social policy and designing such a major constitutional change.

I will talk about community boards for a minute. When the Government came up with its idea that there would be 20 to 30 boards, the range of that figure immediately reflects to anybody listening hard enough that the Government does not know how many boards there will be. It is a guess at the moment. There is no logic or science to that.

Nikki Kaye: You’ve got a range of 40 to 50. How is that different from your range?

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: Nikki Kaye can say for as long as she likes that we accepted the unitary authority, but we do not accept it at any price. The member has been talking about that today, but this is different. One looks for the logic of 20 to 30 boards, as I am sure my colleagues are looking. What is the logic? There is none, and there was none. The logic we applied to the number of community boards, as has just been explained by Mr Twyford, is viable.

Nikki Kaye: Which is what?

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: What is viable? I am telling the member now; it is the logic behind the decisions we have made and what we will support. Communities and their interests are important, and we should not chop them up. We can find a way for them to maintain as much of that as possible. That is the logic that leads us to say that we do not take west Auckland and chop it up so that we may have 30 boards. There is nothing illogical about what we are saying. We are saying quite clearly that there is a lot that is illogical about this bill. We have been taking it and deconstructing it limb by limb all day, and we will do it all night, all of next week, and all of the week after if we need to.

This bill is important. It is about the city we love, the city where our children have grown up and where our grandchildren will grow up. It is important for us. One can see quite clearly that when it comes to representation, the process, and the range of decisions, there is a lack of logic around the whole thing. The same applies when we look at the role of the community boards. This worries me a great deal because this will be the tier that will be closest to our families and to those for whom a particular locality is very special. They ought to be involved in the fundamental decisions that have to be made. We are not talking about not taking out those things that have to be centrally organised. Under the current system, the boards do not have enough power. If we read clause 13D(2)(b)(i), (ii), and (iii), we see that therein lies the constraints on the board.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn) : I think we have heard a number of good speeches recently. I commend my colleague and friend Rajen Prasad who has just resumed his seat, and of course the recent contribution from the Hon Shane Jones was excellent as well. I also think the previous comments of the Minister in the chair, the Hon John Carter, were useful in their challenge to us to provide a reasoned statement, as my two colleagues have just done, about the nature of our position on the local boards.

Let us go back to basics. In the first draft of the Government’s proposals, the idea of having a large number of very, very small local boards representing a minimalist view of the State—the Rodney Hide Cabinet paper writ large through the Auckland bill, core services only, no say in their own destiny, could not buy a pencil sharpener, could not hire a staff member, and could hardly make a decision at all—went down like a bucket of sick with Aucklanders, and rightly so. There is nothing like the Rodney Hide vision of the world that has peeled away public support in my part of the world from this Government, other than perhaps the funding cuts to adult and community education—the most expensive $10 million this Government is ever going to save in its 3 years in power.

But that was the starting problem. The Government threw the baby out with the bathwater. It was a deliberate policy of divide and rule. The Government wanted a super powerful unitary Auckland Council gerrymandered to be dominated by the right, with at-large councillors, for generations to come—a gravy train for John Banks; that was the idea—and it wanted to brook no disagreement from below. It would face no threat from a large number of disempowered local boards that were entirely captive to it, in terms of fund-raising, rating, policy making, employment, and definition setting. That was the case reasoned in the submissions, and I can go through the list but I will need more calls to do so. I have pages and pages of submissions from groups—everything from, starting at A, Andrew Body Ltd, Auckland City Council, Cheryl Backstrom from Parnell Trust, Waitakere Enterprise, Peter Buchanan—the list goes on and on. People rose up and said that this model was excessively minimalist and they did not want it, so change it!

Here is where we have to give the Government some reasonable degree of credit. The Government did pare back some of the worst excesses of the Rodney Hide model. It has given the local boards some say in the definition of their local role and in place-shaping; let us say that. But, as my colleagues have said, there are two enduring problems. The first is that there are too many boards. Thirty local boards is way too many. It is divide and rule, still. In my part of Auckland, in Waitakere City, that means going back to the bad old days of the boroughs. It means New Lynn borough competing with Henderson borough, or the Waitakere ward, or the Massey ward. It means internecine feuding, frankly, of the worst possible kind. Waitakere City residents were pleased to get away from that; they identify as west Aucklanders with Waitakere as an entity, and not so much with New Lynn, Henderson, or Massey. We do not want to get the worst features of the old system back again, and there is further work needed to make sure that the numbers are contained so that we have genuine communities of interest, with enough cohesion and power to have an upwards say to the Auckland Council. That is the scale issue.

The second issue is empowerment. It is one thing to draw a diagram and say that this is how we will make policy, and that is as simple as we have it. It has a few spider legs on it. It is another thing to give local boards the resources and the critical mass to carry it out. It remains the case that even after the moderation of this ghastly provision, local boards are still completely captive because they cannot raise a rate. They cannot even put a differential rate on without the Auckland City Council’s approval. An activist local board such as New Lynn, my own dear town, would not have the scale, nor would it have the resources nor the political clout to mount a project of the nature of the New Lynn rail undergrounding and civic transformation. That is costing $300 million and it could not be done under this model. That is the key example.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : I have just a couple of points that I want to take up. Firstly, I want to finish the point I was making in my previous intervention about the huge costs of the Auckland restructuring. The interesting point is that we are told that the costs, according to the royal commission, are expected to be about $140 million. We have not been told where this money is coming from. The savings are predicted to be 2.5 to 3.5 percent. I also want to mention that academic papers have been written about the international experience of local government amalgamation. It has been found that almost always huge savings have been predicted, but they have not come about. For example, in South Australia the authorities promised savings of 17.4 percent, but achieved savings of a mere 2.3 percent only. We have been promised savings of only 2.5 percent in Auckland, but maybe, based on overseas experience, there will be no savings at all.

It is interesting that the Government has barely mentioned—in fact, I do not think I have heard any Government members mention—that there will be any savings to the ratepayer as a result of this extraordinary amalgamation, this disruption, this wiping out of very effective local councils and their replacement with tiny little local boards. Barely anyone has mentioned that there will be savings. Obviously, the answer is that there will not be savings. Indeed, there will be huge costs, and those costs will be picked up as a liability by Auckland ratepayers.

The other thing that the international studies have discussed is forced amalgamations. In my definition this is a forced amalgamation, because the people of Auckland never got to vote on it. There was an issue in Christchurch as to whether Akaroa should merge with Christchurch. The people there had a proper debate—an intense debate—a poll, a vote, and a referendum. It was won, and everyone accepted the amalgamation. People accepted it because they voted for it. But in Auckland people have never had the opportunity to vote on the issue; therefore it fits the definition of a forced amalgamation. The international experience of forced amalgamations is that far from reducing parochialism, which amalgamation is allegedly intended to do, there is so much simmering resentment in the community about the forced amalgamation that all that results is more parochialism and more resentment. I predict, as Mayor Williams has done, that this is what will happen. We will get even more parochialism and resentment once the communities realise how limited their local boards’ powers are.

The second thing that I want to mention is that it is not just the number of local boards that makes them impotent but the fact that there are to be only four to nine members on those boards. I have an amendment set out on Supplementary Order Paper 53 in my name that says there should be a minimum of 11 members on local boards. I agree with Phil Twyford, who said there should be 14 to 17 members—that is certainly a reasonable number. But to have four to nine members on local boards is ridiculous. If we have four to nine members, that will mean the smaller councils—for example, on Waiheke—would be likely to have only four members. A gang of four could be running Waiheke. Having four people on a local board would give it no credibility. That is ridiculous. The boards will not have the ability to do place-shaping and to do local representation, if there are only four to nine members. I have an amendment, which I hope the Government will support, to increase the size of boards to a minimum of 11 members. I think most community boards have 11 or 12 members, so to get down to having four to nine members on local boards is ridiculous. We would ask the Government to please reconsider that, because we will not have genuine local boards and local grassroots democracy with a mere four to nine members.

The other thing that we need to remember—and I am glad that my colleague Roger Douglas has come into the Chamber, and I want to support very strongly Phil Twyford’s amendment about preventing the sale of the $28 billion of assets—

Hon Sir ROGER DOUGLAS (ACT) : I thought I would take a call because I want to touch on the whole issue of community boards. As I listen to this debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, the real worry I have is that the debate is all about structure, and not about function. Actual structure follows function, and not the other way round. That point has been missed, particularly by the members of the Labour Party. It was really a problem for the royal commission, which tended to focus only on structure, and I think that is why in the end we got a rather poor report. That is why the mayor and the councillors spent the whole duration of the royal commission process seeking to protect their own territory while continuing to spend more money and to increase our rates.

It seems to me that any determination of the appropriate structure of local government must, as I said, flow from functions rather than from structure. The first thing we need to determine is what issues or functions will be delegated by central government to local government, and, having decided that, it will tend to determine the nature or the structure of local government. The principle that should underline the structure of local government is that those most affected by councils’ decisions must have the capacity to voice their opinion. That is why I favour closer to 30 local boards, as opposed to 20 local boards. They should have the capacity to voice their opinion. The principle is commonly known as subsidiarity: the idea that matters ought to be dealt with by the least centralised but most competent authority we have. For decisions over things like food, we do it ourselves, but when it comes to a local library and a local swimming pool it should be done by local people. The number of community boards, set at 20 to 30 in this bill, is a move in the right direction. I personally favour 30 over 20.

Community boards should be small enough—and this is the point not argued particularly well by Labour—to represent genuine communities and not just be more bureaucratic structures. Labour has this afternoon suggested more and more bureaucratic structures, whereas if we get back to the community, we will have genuine communities of interest rather than those advocated by the royal commission. In Manukau, where I come from, there are at least six and probably seven genuine communities of interest: Botany; Pakuranga; Howick; Manurewa, whose community board is probably bigger than almost 90 percent of local governments in New Zealand; Ōtara and Papatoetoe, which are probably two communities, but possibly one; Māngere; and the rural area surrounding Clevedon. These are genuine communities of interest, and they would all be able to make better decisions than the old Manukau City Council did. That is why I push for 30 boards rather than 20 boards—in Manukau there are at least six communities, and probably seven.

The big thing that we must do, and the thing that we have not done, is ensure that structure follows function. We have not been doing that. If we think about local government, we see that a lot of things will be done at the regional level, and are best able to be done at the regional level, but a huge number of functions of local government can be best carried out by local people in their own communities. Therefore, I congratulate the Government and the Minister of Local Government on moving from 20 to 30 community boards as opposed to the seven or eight that the royal commission suggested.

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour) : I want to go back to something Mr Carter said earlier, and that was with regard to what Labour stands for. Mr Carter was questioning whether Labour knows what it stands for. I found that kind of ironic, given that Steve Chadwick has just talked about the fact that Labour stands for looking for the social, cultural, and economic benefits of Auckland City, rather than just the economic benefits.

I think that what this bill has brought to light, if people have not already realised it, is that National’s priorities have not changed. They have not changed at all, and that is something I want to speak about a little bit before I get on to the local boards. Early in the piece, when a public consultation meeting was held in the Mt Roskill electorate, National decided that it would get out there and consult, even though many of the decisions had already been made.

National had one of those meetings in Mt Roskill, and given that I live in Mt Roskill I thought after dinner that I would walk up to the meeting and see what the National members of Parliament had to say and the way in which they listened to the local residents. I went there knowing that Jackie Blue would be there. Unfortunately, although Jackie Blue is the National member working in Mt Roskill, she did not really talk. I think she just said hello at the beginning, and then John Carter took over.

I found the meeting really interesting, and I gained quite an insight that night. I did not know any of the people at that meeting, and I sat there listening to what they had to say. I was pleasantly surprised that everything they had to say with regard to the concerns they had was aligned with everything Labour was pushing for. Members on this side of the Chamber cannot be criticised for not listening, because the things we have been pushing for are evident in the submissions that have been made and the concerns that have been expressed in all the public community meetings—not just the ones held by Labour but the ones held by National. I can attest to that because I attended one of them, and it made the whole issue of priorities spring to light.

We are seeing a return to National’s traditional agenda. Unfortunately, it has always been there, but it is has not been as overt as some might need it to be in order to be able to see it. One thing that does concern me—and we can see this; it is quite blatant—is that the National-ACT candidate for mayor of the super-city is John Banks.

One of the big issues that has been raised as we have moved round Auckland City has been the concern about the sale of public assets. I congratulate my colleague Phil Twyford on the Not Yours to Sell campaign he has been running. It is something that a lot of people have picked up on. It is a very real concern. The National Government can go out there and say it has no intention of selling public assets, or it can go out there and be very quiet about it, but we know that National’s No. 1 person—and ACT’s No. 1 person—who is running for mayor, John Banks, is renowned for his reputation with regard to the selling of public assets. So selling public assets is obviously high on the agenda for National and ACT.

One issue that has been raised across Auckland, especially in Manukau, is the fact that some areas of the Auckland region have held on to their public assets. Manukau has made a lot of revenue from the public assets the council held on to and chose not to sell. So when we discuss the details of this bill it is very important that we look at the underlying agenda. The underlying agenda is that National’s priorities have not changed since the 1990s. National still wants to sell our public assets at every opportunity, and its agenda is epitomised by the fact that someone like John Banks is its No. 1 person and is standing as the National/ACT candidate for mayor of Auckland.

I will just touch on the matter of the matter of the size and number of the local boards. The royal commission proposed six councils, roughly modelled on the existing councils. We have all the facilities there. It would be a complete waste to see those go. The Government then announced it wanted 20 to 30 community boards. We have argued for fewer boards than the Government proposes, to enable them to be large enough to be viable and influential.

Dr CAM CALDER (National) : Thank you for the opportunity to rise and take the call on this very important bill, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. Members of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, including my colleague Nikki Kaye, have collectively spent thousands of hours listening to the people of Greater Auckland on this very important matter—this hugely important matter—under the esteemed leadership of the Associate Minister of Local Government, John Carter. We have listened carefully and responded thoughtfully. A wide range of views have been expressed. As the Prime Minister has stated, the aim of this exercise is to allow Auckland to think regionally, plan strategically, and act decisively—a feeling probably completely foreign to members on the other side of the Chamber. Just as in days gone by the performance of the Auckland rugby team was held to presage a fearsomely competitive All Black pack, so in the future we believe that a strong, vibrant Auckland City, nurturing its diverse inhabitants and encouraging them to reach their full potential, will result in a New Zealand—our nation—able to do the same on the global stage. If we get it right in Epsom, if we get it right in Manurewa, if we get it right in Auckland, we get it right for New Zealand.

I personally do not agree with W Somerset Maugham, who said that in great cities men are like a lot of stones thrown together in a bag: their jagged corners are rubbed off until in the end they are as smooth as marbles. The decision to have 20 or 30 local boards means that the different and diverse communities in Auckland, which make up Greater Auckland, will be recognised and the communities of interest will be supported. We had a very erudite contribution from Sir Roger, who talked about the bedrock of the European Union: the concept of subsidiarity. A community of interest could potentially be 100,000 people in Auckland, as my honourable friend pointed out, or it could be 50,000. Its structures will be determined by the Local Government Commission.

Few folk in this Chamber or, I am sure, in Auckland or New Zealand have not heard of Sir John Logan Campbell, the founder of Auckland, whose gift to the people of Auckland—Cornwall Park, in the vibrant electorate of Epsom—is enjoyed by thousands of people from all the cities across the Auckland isthmus to this day. Sir Dove-Myer Robinson’s vision was greater than that of his fellow councillors at the time, and we are very grateful for the cleanliness of our beaches, which is largely down to him.

What, then, is the background to this Greater Auckland issue? The reality is that the problems with the governance of Auckland have been recognised for years. The indolent, unlamented, lackadaisical, late Labour administration sat on its hands for almost 9 years, then set up a royal commission. [Interruption] How long was it? It was 9 years. Then it set up a royal commission. We were challenged by the royal commission to make the changes needed in time for elections a little over a year from now. Hence the need for urgency. We are on track; we are on time; we are delivering for Auckland.

The report of the royal commission was not the only thing that made known the need to reform local government in Auckland, and this is what makes Labour’s dilatoriness and indolence so hard to understand. Auckland’s future has been debated for decades. Michael Joseph Savage, whose name may be known to members opposite, stood on a one-council policy in 1919. Why do they not dredge through some old copies of Hansard and get some inspiration for the future?

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : That contribution from Cam Calder was the worst I have heard in this Committee, and I blame the Minister in the chair, Hon John Carter. Where are the members of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee? Where is Nikki Kaye? Where is the contribution from Simon Bridges? Where is the contribution from Tau Henare? Why are they being silenced in this Chamber?

To be fair, I acknowledge the Hon John Carter because, as the Associate Minister of Local Government, he was a good chair of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. He was welcoming of the public and he was very positive. In fact, as the themes from the submitters became prominent, he began to raise the expectations of the community. One of the very first things that the Hon John Carter said was “We will empower boards.” That was the very first thing, and overwhelmingly, as we listened to submissions from the four corners of the Auckland region, that was one of the things of concern that was raised. As I listened to John Carter chair those meetings, I wondered why National did not appoint him as the Minister of Local Government. Why is that? He should have been the Minister but, alas, as the Associate Minister his strings are being pulled by the Minister, Mr Rodney Hide.

In the submissions advocated by various representatives from the community, they were generally quite concerned about the initial Government proposal regarding local boards. After the royal commission had conducted its work, it recommended that there be six local boards that basically follow the boundaries of the existing main cities in Auckland. The Government’s response was 20 to 30 boards. It sent that out for public consultation, and that was it. Labour argued in its proposal for local boards that are large enough to have some influence but small enough still to be able to represent our various communities. Many of the communities that made submissions raised concerns about the powers to be clarified. They wanted powers to be identified in the legislation. They wanted funding to be put in the legislation. In fact, I recall one submitter even recommended that each local board be given $5 million per year to conduct their affairs.

There were issues raised about staffing as to how these local boards would be able to deliver their roles and organise their functions. Of course, that is a significant issue because there are about 6,000 staff throughout the Auckland region who work for local government. But there has been so much uncertainty about this particular process, and there is so much rush and hastiness, that everybody is afraid and morale is low. I suspect if we are unable to provide some guarantee to the 6,000-plus staff for the next 2 years or 3 years, many of them will leave. They will leave for overseas or for other jobs. Yet we have not yet completed this work. We have not yet identified the boundaries because the staffing will be determined on the basis of how big or small those particular boards will be. If we do not have sufficient staffing, it means that local boards will be competing for somebody to take the minutes, to look after the parks, or to put up a proposal on their planning.

People were also concerned about assets. They wanted local boards to be able to have control of some of their community assets—things like libraries and swimming pools. Social services is another area where people raised their concerns. They wanted to know about the art and community projects that are currently being delivered in Māngere and throughout the city. The problem in the Government’s proposal is that the local boards are still subservient to the local council.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I want to make the point that it is very clear from the speeches coming from the other side that Labour members have not read the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. Another point I want to make is specifically around the powers of the local boards. There is a clear principle in the legislation that decisions will be made at the lowest possible level, except for some exceptions. Another point that I pick up on, which the previous speaker, Su’a William Sio, raised, is around the issue of staff and support. In the legislation it is also very clear that local boards will have to be adequately and fully resourced. They will not be able to employ staff, but they will have to have enough staff to support the activities for their community.

Another point that I want to raise is specifically around an issue raised during the select committee process. We heard about Phil Twyford going around communities spreading the threat of Armageddon, telling the arts community that they would not have funding. But I want to make a very clear point that I ask Labour to listen to. Within the legislation there is a very clear principle—and this is backed up in the local government legislation—around the promotion of social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of the community. It is very clear; it is within the legislation. Any assertion to the contrary is absolutely wrong. Another point that I want to make very clear is that when Mr Twyford went around those communities, he also went on about at-large councillors, saying we cannot expect them to float around the community without a constituency. There was a hilarious moment in the select committee process when someone yelled to him: “Hey, Phil, aren’t you a list MP?”.

I say that the community did speak very loudly and very clearly on this issue. As a result it became another area where this Government can say it has listened, and we no longer have at-large councillors. The other point that has been made consistently today has been around funding. I do not think that any speakers have really talked about this. Again, I raise this particular issue with Labour because I do not think the members have read the legislation. The funding provisions in the legislation have the power to really empower certain communities within Auckland. There are issues in Auckland in terms of certain minority groups. We know there are issues in South Auckland. I draw members’ attention to this provision within the legislation. I asked Len Brown about those issues when he came to the select committee. I said to him that some people have said that they want one unitary authority to come to Auckland, for the reason that maybe there will be communities within South Auckland that will finally get the school pools that they want and that they really deserve in their communities. The principle within the legislation is that the funding formula must take into account socio-economic conditions. Mr Brown turned to me and said: “Nikki, you know what, that is the great white hope of this legislation.” The great white hope is that finally communities in Auckland will be able to have some equality in terms of services. Members on the opposite side are very quiet, because they are voting against a bill that will not only deliver the infrastructure for Auckland and strong local entities for the communities across Auckland but also potentially help some of the poorer people in Auckland. Members on the opposite side have not addressed that.

The last and final point that I want to make that Labour needs to understand is that, on the question of the number of local boards—and they need to stand up and really address this point—Labour has slipped from 14 all the way to 20. National said there should be 20 to 30 local boards. What is the difference between our 20 and Labour’s 20? Potentially, nothing. So we may actually agree on the number of local boards. In response to the arguments that have been raised about communities being cut up, all I say is that there will be a process in terms of the Local Government Commission. It will be up to the commission to define what a community of interest is. But I ask Mr Hawkins about saving Papakura with 14 local boards. I do not think so. Labour is supporting a provision that would mean that Papakura would not have a local board. The members on the opposite side know that, and there are members in constituency seats who are looking very worried right now. They have backed themselves into a corner.

At the end of the day, we are delivering legislation for Auckland that is historic, that will finally deliver some equity to local communities, and that will finally give them decent local representation. I am proud to support this legislation.

LYNNE PILLAY (Labour) : That speech from Nikki Kaye was just appalling. She stood there and said that members on this side of the Chamber have not read the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill and we do not understand it. Yeah, right!

Darien Fenton: Arrogant!

LYNNE PILLAY: It is arrogant; I take that point. But, also, in saying that to us Nikki Kaye was saying it to almost every Aucklander who shares this view. I tell this Committee that there is more common sense on that Table with those Supplementary Order Papers then there is in this bill. There is more proof of listening to the people of Auckland on that Table then there is in this bill. What is on that Table? Are there any Supplementary Order Papers from National? Is there any last-minute document that says “Gosh, maybe we are wrong.”? No. National has said that it has given us the trophy; it has said it accepted the at-large issue. It has managed to bring in this legislation, and it will give a lot of power to communities by creating 30 small boards with very little. Those boards will be competing, as my friend William Sio said, not only for funding but also for the ability to run their campaigns. The funding will not be there for all those organisations. As, I think, David Cunliffe said before me, we will get back to the old days of patch protection, which will not bring Auckland forward.

I want to talk about some of the really good submissions to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. This council should truly represent Auckland—Greater Auckland’s interest—which we know it does not. Labour looks forward to the Government supporting amendments such as having a Pacific Advisory Board. If I look at my community of Waitakere, I see that there is a Pacific advisory board at the Waitakere City Council as well as an ethnic advisory board and a youth council. That progress happens in a city like Waitakere.

I hope that we do not have John Banks as mayor, and I am pretty confident that we will not. Can members imagine a city of the future under John Banks? It would be Gotham City. It would be a shocker. Can members imagine it? It would be terrible. Where would the input of local communities be under a mayor with those supreme powers?

  • Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

LYNNE PILLAY: I was talking about something that many members on this side of the Chamber are aware of, and I think we can see members on the other side are starting to see some merit in it: the ineffectiveness of these local boards under the current proposal. It is not too late for the Government to take heed of what not only members on this side of the Chamber are saying, but also what the Greens have said consistently, and to ensure that there is real representation. We know that if representation is disjointed or is across a number of boards then it will not be effective.

As I said before, if we look at the myriad of different schemes and innovations that go on across a city—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Name two!

LYNNE PILLAY: In Waitakere, there is EcoMatters Environment Trust, Project Twin Streams, and Plunket’s Trees for Babies. I could go on and on.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Stop showing off!

LYNNE PILLAY: I know the member does not have those schemes—Christchurch is not quite that innovative—but in Waitakere we certainly do. All of those schemes will be at risk because under a lot of boards that will be competing for the dollar—that is what it will be like—and for services, we will not see those really important projects continue to grow and thrive as they have so much in Waitakere City.

The other thing I touched on, and would like to talk about again, is having a Pacific Advisory Board, an Auckland Youth Council, and, of course, an Asian Advisory Board as part of the council. I commend my colleagues who have tabled Supplementary Order Papers, which, as I said before, are far more constructive than anything I have seen in the bill. Having those boards would mean real democracy at grassroots and would be supported, I hope, by every member in this Chamber. I know that many of my colleagues have spoken about those boards before.

Effectively, so much is missing from this bill. As we have always said, if the topic of this bill had gone to a referendum, if the Government had brought Aucklanders with it, then it would not have the debacle we see now.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : I will continue with the comments I was making earlier about local boards. I am sorry that the member for Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye, is not here to be part of this discussion, because I know how important the subject is for her. Perhaps someone could send her a message. We talked about the number of local boards before and I set out Labour’s thinking about why we are proposing in our amendment that there should be a number within a range of 14 to 20 local boards. But the question of their powers is also perhaps one of the most important, one of the most tricky, and one of the most complicated elements in the entire super-city model.

We heard much trumpeting from the Government members that they have listened to public opinion and have decided to fully empower the boards. Let me describe what we actually have here. We have local boards that have no legal status—no legal personality. They have no staff, they have no property, they have no ability to levy rates, they have no service delivery function, and they have no regulatory function. They do not even have the ability to paint a yellow line along the side of the road. Two key areas of local government are the provision of water and the operation of our transport system; neither water nor transport will go anywhere near the local boards.

These local boards will have a budget that they will have to bid for on an annual basis in an annual budget round as part of the unitary authority. They will have delegated powers. The board sets out a process and a number of principles that require the unitary authority, the Auckland Council, to delegate certain things downwards, but there are important qualifiers on those delegations. If, the analysis says, these certain activities or decision-making functions are best carried out on a regional basis or have an impact that goes beyond the local area that the board represents, then those powers will be kept upstairs, in the Auckland Council.

Local boards have the ability to propose by-laws, but when we put all of those elements together, it is very clear that this is an extremely constrained exercise of decision-making power by these boards. Let me repeat that they have no legal status, no staff, no property, and no ability to exercise any kind of regulatory function, and they have no engagement with transport or water. They have delegated powers within a fairly heavily prescribed set of principles under the legislation, but they may not, or will not, make decisions on matters that go beyond their geographic area, and they will not make decisions if those matters are better dealt with by using a cost-benefit analysis on a regional basis. Whichever way we slice it, I say to members, this is a very, very constrained model.

I believe that the jury is still out. I am not saying that the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and the Government have not made a genuine attempt to design a package of powers that would work. But I am not sure. If I apply two tests to the powers in this bill, then I think the jury is still out. The first test is whether these boards will have sufficient clout—whether they will have sufficient autonomy and decision-making power—to really make a difference in their local communities in order to play the place-shaping role that we want them to play. The second test is whether these local boards are capable of adequately balancing the centralisation of powers that we are implementing and we are investing in the Auckland Council. That was a key principle that the royal commission set out.

I believe that the jury is still out. The test will be in the eating, and if the Government has got this legislation wrong, then it will probably be the single biggest flaw in the super-city model.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) : Kia ora tātou. Nō reira e te Whare. We are talking this evening about local boards. “Democracy a pipe dream when all roads lead to Rome”; let me just quote that headline, because I think it aptly sums up exactly where we are at when it comes to the issue of local boards and the powers that they will have.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Your printer’s broken; you’ve missed a bit out!

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: No, it is not, I say to Mr Brownlee. The printer is exactly right. The article starts by saying: “Maybe I’m being excessively pessimistic, but it looks as though the proposed 20 to 30 local boards in the new Auckland Super City will be little more than part-pressure valves, part-whipping boys, for the Auckland Council proper.”

Hon Darren Hughes: Who said that?

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: I have not finished yet. The article continues: “The parliamentary select committee has tried to paint a picture of busy little councils dotted around the region, happily governing their semi-autonomous fiefdoms, at arm’s length from the sway of the emperor-mayor and his council. But wherever you look in their report, all roads inevitably lead back to Rome. Rome controls the purse strings. Rome can also overrule any local decision that contradicts regional policy.”

That is where we on this side of the Chamber—the loyal Labour Opposition—have a difference of opinion with the Government and its support parties. Why? Because we do not trust what might happen to those regions that do not have the economic clout or the voice to stand up for them.

Hon Tau Henare: What’s that got to do with Rome?

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: Just wait a bit, I say to Mr Henare. In my electorate I now represent people from both Manukau City and Auckland City. When I took over the Auckland part of the electorate, Ōtāhuhu, I learnt just how differently councils treat their most vulnerable people. We had free swimming pools in Manukau City, and I was stunned to find that when I walked over the border into Auckland City and looked at Ōtāhuhu, I found it did not have a swimming pool, I say to Mr Hughes.

Hon Darren Hughes: What?

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: It did not have a swimming pool. No, it did not. Ōtāhuhu did not have a swimming pool. That says to me that different councils treat their most vulnerable people differently.

I worry about what will happen when Manukau City is swallowed up into the larger Auckland City. If Auckland City had treated its ratepayers in Ōtāhuhu in the way that Manukau City treated its ratepayers, then Ōtāhuhu would have had a swimming pool. I have heard the Minister in the chair, the Hon John Carter, make mention of this issue and say the boards will be able to do those sorts of things. But we on this side of the Chamber are worried about that, because how much power will the local boards really have? I cannot hear Mr Carter; I ask him to say it again. How much power is there?

Hon John Carter: Heaps.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: He tells me that it is heaps. I will hold Mr Carter to that statement that the boards will have heaps of power.

Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The member for Manukau East is making a very fine contribution, but he is being interjected on by Hone Harawira, who looks very comfortable there on the National Government front bench. He looks as though he is pretty keen to be there, but I think that he has moved from his seat for the purposes of interjecting right across on Mr Robertson. I think, notwithstanding Tau Henare’s new home, that that is just not fair on Mr Robertson.

Hon Tau Henare: Speaking to the point of order—

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): I do not need any help with this matter. I thought that the interjections were rare, sometimes reasonable, and occasionally witty—which is rare in this place—and that Mr Robertson was making his point very well and even getting responses out of the Minister in the chair. I thought that the debate was moving along quite nicely. I invite Mr Robertson to continue with his fine oratory about the swimming pool in South Auckland. I am engrossed.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I can remember sitting in the particular position where you are now, and I am grateful to the Hon Darren Hughes for raising the point of order to note that Mr Hone Harawira has moved in order to facilitate interjections.

But putting that aside, let us get back to the issue of the swimming pools, I say to Mr Carter, because that is where I, as a local member of Parliament, have a real concern. I have witnessed it firsthand. I have seen how the people of Ōtāhuhu are treated under the current Auckland City Council, and I can judge that. I have been a member of Parliament for 22 years now, with most of them spent in the Manukau East electorate, and I am still here.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: How long?

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: I have vast experience, I say to Mr Brownlee—

Hon Maurice Williamson: No way you’ve been a member of Parliament that long!

H V ROSS ROBERTSON: —over the same length of time as Mr Williamson. We both came in together; it was a good vintage, that year. But in South Auckland we have a real concern over the issue of ratepayer funding for swimming pools, because Ōtāhuhu has been left out. It has been hung, drawn, and quartered. We led a protest march in Ōtāhuhu, the first in many, many years, and what happened? It was totally ignored. It was totally ignored by the Auckland City Council. If the council does that to Ōtāhuhu now, what will it do when it controls all of Auckland?

We have a real concern for the people whom we represent: the most vulnerable in our society.

DARIEN FENTON (Labour) : I want to talk a little about local boards, but first I will acknowledge the chair of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, the Hon John Carter.

Hon Darren Hughes: The Minister and the chair.

DARIEN FENTON: Yes. The Minister in the chair was also the chair of the select committee.

When I was at the select committee—and I thought it was rather sweet, really—I heard John Carter saying, as the community organisations came through: “Isn’t it great? I didn’t know all these neat community organisations existed in Auckland.” The comment was genuine, I thought, and it was nice, but it was a bit ironic, because he had not worked out before he came to the select committee that that is what Auckland is about.

When we sat through the select committee hearings one of the primary themes from locals was concern over the loss of their community identity, and there is an argument about whether the proposal from the Government deals with that—and I would beg to differ. There is distrust of the powers of the central agency and the mayor, and there is also a real concern about local services. Quite frankly, I do not think that this bill deals with that. I have to acknowledge that some of the issues have been addressed, but only in part and not to the satisfaction of this Committee and not to the satisfaction of the local communities.

The Government members from the North Shore—the members who work over there—need to be listening. I work on the North Shore as a Labour list MP, and I have been listening. What people are saying to me is that there is still a huge power imbalance between the local boards and the super-city council. Local boards with four to nine members will be up against a powerful central body—with all the resources it gets—that doles out largesse, if you like, when it feels like it.

I have a huge concern about all the services that are being provided on the North Shore when an all-powerful central organisation is to decide what is good for the different communities of Auckland. The communities of Auckland are different, and the interesting thing about North Shore City is that it has a unique community coordination model. In fact, the Minister heard about that. The various community organisations, the mayor, and the council came along to the select committee and talked about that unique model, where coordinators are employed to build local community engagement and to tackle the particular issues in the areas they work in.

The people are all different, too. People like to think that the people who live north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge are well off, rich, and all that sort of stuff, and that they are all the same, but they are not. Northcote and Beachhaven are very different from Glenfield. Glenfield on the North Shore is different from Albany and Greenhithe. They have different populations, different needs, and different requirements for services. The services that are provided by the North Shore City Council are extensive. They are expected and supported by the people of the North Shore.

So I cannot get my head around how the local boards will continue to deliver those extensive services when they will have to compete with each other for funding, when they will have to go begging to the Auckland Council for money, and when, even then, those local boards can have their decisions overridden.

There are many outstanding questions about community services. What will happen to citizens advice bureaus? They are scattered throughout Auckland. What will happen to them? Will they be centrally resourced?

Jo Goodhew: You guys are the princes of scaremongering.

DARIEN FENTON: It is a fair question, I say to Jo Goodhew, and it is a question that people are asking.

Will citizens advice bureaus be centrally resourced from the central agency? Will that agency decide where citizens advice bureaus should or should not be, or will it be up to local boards to decide? If it is up to local boards to decide, then how will they decide on the funding and allocation of resources?

What will happen to the housing for older people on the North Shore? There are 458 low-cost units there. Who do they belong to, and who decides what the need is? Do they belong to the central agency or to the local boards, of which there could be three, four, or five? How will they decide who gets what? What happens to the 11 community houses across the North Shore and to the staff who service them?

Community houses are extremely important organisations. People can just come along to them and use the various resources and educational courses that are facilitated by the community coordinators. What happens to those coordinators? Do they lose their jobs? Who knows? These are the questions that the people of the North Shore are asking. What happens to things like the Community Facility Development Fund and the Creative Communities fund?

JOHN BOSCAWEN (ACT) : It is a pleasure to take a call in this debate. I have heard so much rubbish being spoken on this issue in the last 24 hours by members on the Opposition benches that I jokingly said to George Hawkins as we crossed the bridge across to the Chamber this evening that if he gave a speech then I would certainly find something in it to criticise. But I did not have to wait until George Hawkins got to his feet, because I got the comment I wanted to hear as I walked in the door. As I walked in the door I heard Lynne Pillay finishing her speech. And how did she finish it off? I will tell members. She said that had the bill gone to a referendum, then there would not be the debacle we see now. Labour suggests that the Government should have put up the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill for a referendum.

I will tell members of the Opposition about referendums. We have just had one, and those members have chosen to ignore the result. But I say to the people of New Zealand that one party is not ignoring the result of the referendum on the anti-smacking legislation. My next public meeting on the subject will be held next Monday in Waimakariri, in the Labour-held electorate of Clayton Cosgrove. There were 26,000 No votes, and Clayton wants to ignore them.

Let us move on to Ross Robertson. He is a fine member of Parliament; he is the member for Manukau East. I grew up in his electorate, and I know that the electorate holds Otahuhu College. What did Ross Robertson have to say? He said that the people of Ōtāhuhu have not got a swimming pool. He talked about the people of Ōtāhuhu being denied the most basic right of having a swimming pool. I wonder what Ross Robertson actually knows about his electorate, because I can tell him that the people of Ōtāhuhu have a swimming pool.

H V Ross Robertson: That’s the college one.

JOHN BOSCAWEN: He is dismissing a 33-metre swimming pool at Otahuhu College that was dug by hand by the pupils of the college and their parents in the 1950s. That pool has been locked to the Ōtāhuhu community. Mr Robertson’s Government was in power for 9 years. If he had wanted to make the pool available for the people of Ōtāhuhu, he could have done so. What an absolute waste to have a 33-metre, high-quality pool that is locked away and denied to the people of Ōtāhuhu. The member’s Government, which was in power for 9 years, could have funded Otahuhu College to make its pool available to the public, and it did not.

It was a privilege to serve on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, and it gave me an opportunity to meet members of the committee whom I had not had an opportunity to get to know very well in the 7 or 8 months I have been in Parliament. I was privileged to get to know Mr William Sio. I had not had much to do with Mr Sio before. I apologise to Mr Sio for this, but I was not aware that he is a former Deputy Mayor of Manukau City. He was the second-highest elected official in Manukau City. How did Mr Sio get to become the Deputy Mayor of Manukau City? Was it because of the reserve seats for Pacific Islanders? No, he won his seat fair and square in a head-to-head competition in the ward of Ōtara. Mr Sio can have pride in being elected a councillor for the Ōtara ward and then going on to be elected the Deputy Mayor of Manukau City.

Mr Sio said this morning: “The Pacific communities throughout Auckland were prepared to put on hold their ambition to be included at the top table.” Nothing more than that comment could better illustrate to me the folly of having dedicated Māori seats. Mr Sio said to Parliament that the Pacific communities throughout Auckland—and I heard this morning that the Pacific community represents something like 12 or 13 percent of Aucklanders, and that Asians make up 13 percent of Auckland City—were prepared to put on hold their ambition to be at the top table while specific Māori seats were allocated to Auckland City. I say to Mr Sio and every member of the House—and members can call me glib if they like—that we have an electoral system in New Zealand that is one person, one vote. Mr Sio won his council seat in Ōtara and went on to be elected the Deputy Mayor of Manukau City.

I have heard Sam Lotu-Iiga being mentioned this afternoon, and he is in the Chamber. He is another Pacific Islander, and he was elected to the Auckland City Council for the ward of Maungakiekie. Mr Darren Hughes may not be aware of this, but the members of the select committee went out and heard evidence in Papatoetoe, in the heart of Manukau City, and we heard that there are three Māori councillors on Manukau City Council now. They were not reserve seats; they won their seats fair and square.

I tell Mr Hughes that we also heard that Manukau City councillors had the opportunity to provide for specific Māori seats under the existing legislation in New Zealand and that they chose not to—just like the councillors for Waitakere chose not to. Now that the Auckland Council bill is going through, councillors who have previously voted against having Māori seats based on racial grounds are now saying that the Government should provide for them, when the provision has been there all along and they have chosen not to take it.

I heard this afternoon about excluding Māori from the Auckland Council. That is utter rubbish. Māori are not excluded from the Auckland Council, in the same way that Pacific Islanders and Asians are not excluded from the Auckland Council. I also heard that the Government does not listen. That is the feedback we have had from the other side.

Hon Darren Hughes: That’s true.

JOHN BOSCAWEN: Well, Mr Hughes, I say to you that had you come to the select committee hearings, then I think it is fair to say—

H V Ross Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I know the member has not been here very long, but on two occasions—I ignored the first one—he brought you into the debate. That is not correct, and I ask you to ask the member to refer to members by their names or to speak through the Chair.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): The member is correct; the member used the word “you”, but as I recall the sentence he started it by saying “Darren Hughes, such and such, you—”, so I took the “you” to be connected directly to Mr Hughes. He did not reflect it on me, so I think the matter is in order. But the point the member makes is a good one; we have to refer to members in the third person. I invite John Boscawen to continue.

JOHN BOSCAWEN: I will conclude by saying that the overwhelming number of submissions the select committee heard rejected the idea of having councillors at large. I personally was supportive of the concept of having councillors at large. If I have a chance to talk on the subject, perhaps later this evening, I can put up some of the advantages of having councillors at large. The overwhelming number of people who made submissions to the select committee were against having councillors at large. The Government has listened to those submissions, and that is what is reflected in this legislation. We do not have councillors at large; we have councils being elected from wards of one member or multi-member wards.

I also heard this afternoon that Auckland is rejecting the idea of the super-city. If members go out on to the streets of Auckland they will find that Aucklanders do not reject the idea of the super-city. They want one city, one mayor, and one rule book.

I will conclude as I started. I have heard so much rubbish this afternoon from the opposite side of the House. There is overwhelming support in Auckland for the Auckland Council, and I have no doubt that it will be an outstanding success. Thank you very much.

DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert) : I will start by addressing Mr Boscawen and some of the points he put across just now. The overwhelming number of submissions to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee supported Māori representation on the super-city council. Secondly, the simple reason people do not want the councillors at large that he supports is that people would have to be millionaires to run a campaign across Auckland. They would need $200,000 just to put out one pamphlet across Auckland. Nobody could afford that, and that is the reason why we support wards. We also need to make sure with representation that there are not more than two members in a multi-member ward, because otherwise the wards would be so big that only the privileged and the rich could run effectively. That is unfair and is not something that Aucklanders want. They totally rejected it in the submissions to the select committee.

I also want to speak about representation. The royal commission talked about six councils, for reasons of economy and to not disrupt the current structure too much. The current formula being put forward is for 20 to 30 local boards. The Minister of Local Government’s colleague Roger Douglas talked about the need for form to follow function. I think everybody on this side of the Committee would agree. But we do not want to go back to what we had in 1988, which was a lot of very small, rather inefficient councils and local boards—boroughs, as they were then—making rules for people and not being able to be effective. They were expensive and they were not effective. Our proposal is for 14 to 20 local boards. That strikes the balance between communities of interest and efficiency and effectiveness. That is the proposal we should go with and it is what we have before us today.

The Green Party mentioned the issue of cost. We believe that it will cost about $800 or more per ratepayer for these proposals to go through. We therefore want to get the formula right. We are asking people to pay for something that has been rushed through the House under urgency. I do not believe we have had enough time to consider the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. We have had a situation in the last few days where Rodney District was out or split, and now it is in. Dr Paul Hutchison has been talking about the area of his concern, which is down in Hunua. He is a very nice person but nobody listened to him; they listened to the Mayor of Rodney, though, because the Mayor of Rodney is a former ACT MP. Of course, she has a little more weight or pull power than Paul Hutchison and the National Party.

We believe that the bill has been rushed through. It has not been thought through in the way it should have been.

Nikki Kaye: 2½ years.

DAVID SHEARER: It has not been 2½ years; it has been 9 muddied, muddled, ad hoc months. We started off with the royal commission report, which was ignored. A pamphlet went to everybody in Auckland, telling them what the ACT Party and the National Party thought should happen without any reference to the royal commission. Then we finally had to come to a select committee, where 2,500 submitters gave almost identical submissions to what they gave to the royal commission. We are still making eleventh-hour changes to the bill as we go through, depending on where the wind blows—

Chris Hipkins: Under urgency.

DAVID SHEARER: —under urgency. It is rushed, ill-thought-through adhockery. This is not the way Auckland should be considered and planned for.

Nikki was talking about something that was going to be historic.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, no.

DAVID SHEARER: Nikki Kaye—I beg the member’s pardon.

Hon TAU HENARE (National) : I want to say three words to Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition: “haters and wreckers”. Do Opposition members remember the phrase “haters and wreckers”? It came from the previous Prime Minister, Helen Clark. Why have Opposition members now come over all like marshmallows about Māori rights, Pacific Island people’s rights, and Asian people’s rights—about “rights” this and “rights” that? It does not work and it does not wash.

I turn to Mr Boscawen and make a point about what he said about Māori being elected to councils. In a way he is right, but in a way he is absolutely far from the truth—and so, I might add, is the Labour Party. Not once has Labour grasped the issue of Māori representation. It is not just about getting a dark horse or a dark face on the council—someone who just happens to have Māori genealogy. It is not about that at all; it is about being able to stand in an election on a Māori kaupapa, a Māori agenda. That is the real difference. Yes, I supported—and I still support—the Māori seat idea, based on that view. But because it is under a first-past-the-post system, I think we should have had Māori representation and Māori seats.

Everybody in this Committee knows—

Chris Hipkins: Is he going to vote for it?

Hon TAU HENARE: Everybody in this Committee, apart from the person who just turned up from playcentre—or is it Play School—knows that this is a team effort. There is no “I” in team, and I am a team player. If I get outvoted, then that is that: the team wins. I will take one for the team.

I turn now to something that really worries me about the kaupapa we are talking about.

Hon David Cunliffe: The kaupapa of the Dirty Dog glasses.

Hon TAU HENARE: Oh, yes. Dirty Dog is New Zealand - made.

George Hawkins is a doyenne and a longstanding supporter and member of the Labour Party. He was a Minister in the previous Government. He brought to the House an amendment that not even he would agree upon. He just threw it in. The amendment was to extend the boundaries to the south side of the Waikato River, right down to where it begins. That is what the amendment proposed, even though Mr Twyford told us he withdrew it. If that is the sort of research and skill base the Labour Party is relying on, then thank God National won the last election, with help from ACT, United Future, and the Māori Party. I guarantee that if we had had another 3 years of George Hawkins and his mates we would have been in dire straits. We would have been so far up the creek it would not have been funny.

The new member for Mt Albert, David Shearer, who spoke earlier, still thinks he is in Basra, Kabul, or somewhere other than Mt Albert. The fact remains that the number of people in each ward will basically be commensurate with what we have now in some of our electorate seats. He bemoaned the fact that one person will have to look after the issues and aspirations of all those people. But it is OK for Parliament to have the same number—

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn) : It is a pleasure to take a brief call or three in the debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill and to follow on from the member of the tight five, Tau Henare, who has just resumed his seat. Tau Henare was a team player then and he is a team player now; it is just a different team. According to that member there was no “I” in Mauri Pacific and he struggled to find an “I” in the Alliance, but he has finally found an “I” in the National Party.

Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. There is an “I” in Mauri Pacific.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): That is not a point of order; that is a debating point. We are not here to correct people’s spelling.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The alphabetically challenged waka jumper has gone from Dirty Dog to lapdog. In the good old days when he was young, strong, and full of testosterone, he would not have lain down and let the National Party bulldoze and roll over the top of him like he has here. He would not have been a member like Nikki Kaye, who said about trees “Oh, it’s so awful; I’ve talked to the Minister about it.” He would have simply crossed the floor of the Chamber, like the good old days. But, no, the Dirty Dog has become a lapdog.

Hon Darren Hughes: From Dirty Dog to lapdog!

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Dirty Dog is a lapdog.

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: Get that man a mirror!

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I see that Mr Lotu-Iiga has vocalised, and that is a wonderful thing to see. It is wonderful to have both of those members in the Chamber today. It is wonderful to have both the councillor and the member of Parliament in the Chamber. He is uniquely qualified to talk about the rearrangement of the Auckland City Council because that is what he does for a living—he plays musical chairs.

In all seriousness now, the issue at the heart of this part of the debate is how many local boards should there be. The royal commission said six, the National Government says 30, and Labour says something in the middle—15 to 20.

Nikki Kaye: No, we said around 20 to 30, and Labour believed it should be 20.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: With her customary precision, Nikki Kaye says around about 20 to 30. All right, that is fine. I was trying to be kind and point out that there is a trade-off. On the one hand, we have lower cost. That is the Rodney Hide view, the Countdown view, the cut-cost, cut-price view. It is a minimalist view of the State to have half a dozen boards and pay them nothing and get them to do nothing—no rates, rubbish, or rats. That is it. On the other hand, National would have 30 boards, but until this debate I could not understand why the National Government would want to put the ratepayer to such an expense. I say to colleagues it has finally dawned on me that there are not enough life rafts for the members of the National caucus if they had only half a dozen councils.

Where is Mr Lotu-Iiga’s triple dipper? It is in the community board for Eastern Bays. That will be where he heads next because his council seat is not safe and his parliamentary seat will probably by gone by the general election due to electoral reform. What about the man who campaigned for Te Atatū, Tau Henare? The member for Te Atatū, Chris Carter, is fine, but what about Tau Henare the waka jumper? The word is that Michael Jones will run for the National Party in Te Atatū next time. Mr Henare cannot even get to the starters platform. What thanks is that from the National Government for being its lapdog?

Hon Darren Hughes: High Commissioner to Niue!

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: He could be High Commissioner to Niue or the alderman on Te Atatū’s community board while Michael Jones runs for the seat of Te Atatū.

I say “Kia ora” to Nikki Kaye, who is a fine member. But Nikki Kaye is the hand-wringing apologist for the National Government in respect of the urban liberals of central Auckland. One of our number will probably become the MP for Auckland Central, and Nikki Kaye will be looking to the Western Bays community board for a job. There are not enough lifeboats for the Government’s hapless members who are staring down the barrel of imminent electoral defeat. So, to be absolutely sure, the Government has decided on 30 community boards, because there has to be room somewhere for the whole caucus, and the other four members of the tight five. Thank you.

Hon JOHN CARTER (Associate Minister of Local Government) : If we have ever had an example of why this debate is turning into a disappointment, it was the contribution by the previous speaker, the Hon David Cunliffe. One of the things that I had hoped would happen in this debate, given we had a time limit of 16 hours, was that the Opposition would want to set out very clearly its direction, its policies, and what it hoped to achieve for Auckland. But the contribution from the previous speaker is just an example of why the Labour Party is 27 percent in the polls and going down. It is unfortunate.

Let me just state, again, the direction that this Government is setting out for Auckland. I must say, in that regard, the Opposition agrees with this. The Government is looking to have an authority that looks after regional issues. The Opposition agrees. Indeed, I think everybody agrees, maybe with the exception of the Greens—and I am not even sure about that now. Everyone understands that we need to have a structure that will address the regional matters that people want addressed. That is the first and most important point. It is the fundamental reason why we are making this change. Members talked about an amalgamation of local government, but actually this structure is not an amalgamation. I think it was Sue Kedgley who talked about amalgamation. This is not an amalgamation in the sense of the amalgamations of putting local authorities together. We are changing the structure. We are making sure there is clarity in the ability of the unitary authority to have regional decision-making on those matters that concern Aucklanders—transport, water, parks, and the environment. Those are the sorts of things that matter across the city and across the whole of the region.

The second thing that the Government is making sure will happen is that there is the opportunity for the local voice—the local democracy—to express itself. That is one thing, and, again, I have heard the Opposition say that as well. Su’a William Sio made it very clear that one of the things that he heard in volumes was that people expected this Government to ensure that their local communities were empowered. We have done that. I want to make a couple of points in that regard, because when we started out we were thinking that we would prescribe in law the functions of the local boards; that we would give them lists of things that they could do. But as we listened to the submissions we realised that there was such a variety of things that communities wanted within their Auckland areas that we could not put them in a list, because we would miss something out. Something might be relevant for one local board but would not be pertinent or relevant for another. So the people of Auckland asked us for the ability to have flexibility to allow them to carry out the things that they want to do in their communities. So we have put into the bill the principle of subsidiarity. It is about functions. It is about the things that the community wants. Again, I have to say the members of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, without exception, accepted that principle in general. I know that Sue Kedgley, particularly—although Sue Bradford is more relaxed—is still concerned about it. We accept that, but I say to Sue Kedgley that as we move forward we will be able to show her that it will work, but it will take some time.

The point I make is that it was important that we reflected that community voice and allowed those people to have their say. Alongside that, we knew that if all we did was give them the ability to make decisions, but did not allow them the financial ability to carry them out, we would fail. So the Auckland Transition Agency, as it moves forward—once we know the local boards and we have heard the results from the Local Government Commission—will then allocate a budget to the local boards. That will be set from then on in. As the new unitary authority sets its budget, so too will it prescribe that money for those local boards to carry out those functions. Let me just make it very clear that those functions that are prescribed by the Auckland Transition Agency cannot then be removed from the local boards, unless it is by agreement between the local boards and the unitary authority. It has to be by agreement. That is where we are going to put in place, in case of dispute, a dispute resolution system that will make sure that the unitary authority cannot overpower the local boards.

Certainly local boards have the ability to look at things on a regional basis. There is no question about that. We have made that very clear, and, of course, there will be some things that they will want to consider on a regional basis. Libraries are a classic example. Of course, each local board, or community, will want to have its library outlet so people will have access to their library. But it makes sense—and, indeed, we have heard it from people who are far better versed in administering libraries than I am—that we administer libraries on a regional basis. We cannot have them isolated, so that people are reading the same books. The whole purpose of having a Library Service is so there is an exchange. So there will be a regional policy basis for the libraries, but within that, each of the local boards will be able to make its own policy around how its library is run for its people. It will be a two-tier thing. They will work in conjunction and in unison with each other.

Ross Robertson asked about swimming pools. There is no question that the unitary authority may well make a policy about swimming pools. I do not know; it may or it may not. But even if it does, it will be on a regional basis that will permit the local board that looks after the Manukau area, or whatever area it may be, to decide whether it wishes to continue with its policy of allowing its ratepayers to have free access to its swimming pools.

H V Ross Robertson: What about Ōtāhuhu, John?

Hon JOHN CARTER: Well, again, the unitary authority can take that matter up, I say to Ross Robertson, and create free swimming pool access, if that is what is happening, or the local board within the area can be provided with the funding to make it happen. That is the beauty of this system. We will allow those communities to make it happen. Even better than that, if for some reason the unitary authority says it cannot provide the funding, the local community can say it will provide a targeted rate and do it itself. So there is that flexibility as well.

Besides that, the next thing we need to do is to make sure that those facilities can be serviced, and we are making sure that happens, as well. The Auckland Transition Agency is putting in place a structure so that there is service delivery. To me, to the select committee, and, most important, to the people of Auckland, the most fundamental thing was to get the local board, the local democracy, and the local voice right. We have gone a long way towards answering the questions that the people of Auckland asked.

Indeed, I have to say that the Opposition, in the main, agrees with the principles. We might argue about whether there are 20 or 30 local boards, or 14 or 20, but actually it is a moot point. The point is that the Opposition is saying that we have all these 20 or 30 boards, and they have theirs defined down to 14 or 20. Well, I say that there does not seem to me to be a hell of a lot of difference, in the sense that we will give the Local Government Commission the scope to go out there and ask the people of Auckland what structure they think best represents them. That is why we have made it flexible. We have said there will be 20 or 30 boards generally, so that there can even be some tolerance one way or another, if it is needed. That is the point. We are ensuring that the local voice will prevail.

Alongside that I make one other point about the wards. I know the Opposition is concerned about the multiple wards and the function of the unitary councillors. Let us not forget that their purpose is to look after regional matters. Their whole purpose is to worry about things at a regional level and not at the local level. Sure there will be an exchange; there is no question about that. But their primary function is to make sure that the region functions in a way that it should, and in such a way that makes the region efficient and makes the city the world-class city that we know Auckland can be. At last there will be an opportunity for people to come together and deal with things on a unified basis across the city that for so long have held back the opportunities that Aucklanders have been looking for, and that New Zealand needs Auckland to achieve.

Although we can sit here and debate the little bits and pieces, and although there is still a lot of work to do, and although we will absolutely concede that, as the Greens and the Opposition keep saying, we have not got it all together—and that is absolutely true; it is a work in progress—we will continue developing it as we move forward. The only way we could make it happen was to do it in stages. It was not possible to come up with one big package all at once. We would have got that badly wrong. We are working our way through. The likes of George Hawkins and others will actually help and assist us as we move it forward, and we respect them for that, as well. We appreciate the contribution that has been made generally. This bill is moving a good way forward, and we will make good progress on it as we pass it.

SUE BRADFORD (Green) : I take just a moment to offer a Green Party perspective on some of the amendments that members of parties other than ours have put forward on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill that is before us tonight. First I thank Hone Harawira and the Maori Party for their series of amendments relating to the provisions for guaranteed Māori representation on the new Auckland Council. We will support all of Mr Harawira’s amendments, as we agree that there should be mana whenua representation from Ngāti Whātua and Tainui, and also that there should be a Māori seat or seats on the council, elected by all Māori in Auckland who are eligible to vote. Those are both amendments that Mr Harawira has put up.

In a similar vein, we also support Mita Ririnui’s amendment aimed at ensuring the new council will include Māori members elected in proportion to the number of Māori in Auckland on the Māori electoral roll. I realise that it is, in one sense, contradictory to support all of the Māori Party and Labour Party options, but fundamentally, as I am sure all members are well aware by now, the Green Party is committed to the principle that this bill should include Māori seats in some form that is acceptable to tangata whenua, and particularly to mana whenua, however it is achieved. I am deeply regretful that National continues to oppose any version of Māori representation at the core council level—or at the community board level, for that matter—and this is one of the principal grounds on which we will continue to oppose this legislation.

The Green Party will likewise vote for an amendment from Phil Twyford that seeks to change the bill to ensure that there is a review of the legislation in 5 years. This is an interesting amendment given the significance of the changes that are being made. Mr Twyford seems to be the first person to have thought that perhaps there should be some kind of review process at some point, and I thank him for putting that amendment forward. Although I am not sure that a select committee is the ideal mechanism by which to carry out such a review, at least it has the benefit of participation from across the political spectrum and of public involvement through a submission process. We will support it accordingly.

Then we come to a number of amendments from Labour members relating to the establishment of three different advisory bodies. Su’a William Sio seeks to set up a Pacific Advisory Board aimed at representing the views of Pacific Island peoples on the new council, and Raymond Huo aims to do the same thing with an Asian Advisory Board. These amendments meet the requests of a number of submitters to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee from both the Pacific Island and Asian communities, which were backed, I might say, by people from both Māori and Pākehā communities who were all very well aware of the large Asian and Pacific Island population we have in Auckland. We agree it is important that the voice and interests of Pacific and Asian peoples and communities are clearly and well represented on the Auckland Council, and we will vote to support both of those supplementary order papers.

Likewise, with Jacinda Ardern’s amendment aimed at establishing an Auckland Youth Council and territorial youth forums, the Green Party will support this bid to ensure young people are consulted at both council and local board level. As Ms Ardern notes, people aged under 25 make up 37 percent of our population in Auckland, and I share her concern that the voice of youth will not be adequately represented at either level of council without some mechanisms that guarantee their participation.

Another amendment that the Green Party wholeheartedly endorses is Mr Twyford’s move to restrict the sale or privatisation of Auckland’s local body assets. One of the biggest risks in this whole process is that what is in fact going on is a structural preparation of Auckland’s infrastructure in a way that will facilitate selling off assets once the right team—and I use the term “right” advisedly—manages to take control of the city, whether sooner or later. We do not want to see airport shares, public housing, water services, stadiums, parks, libraries, community halls, swimming pools, or anything else hocked off into private ownership. Between them, the current Auckland councils hold a huge number of assets. It is critical that we do everything we can to restrict, hinder, delay, and put off any possible privatisation. Mr Twyford’s requirement that there be a referendum under the Local Government Act before any sale takes place is one way of beginning to achieve that goal.

I take this opportunity to once again invite members to support the four Green Party amendments that lie on the Table.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) : May I start by acknowledging the Hon John Carter who, thankfully, is the Minister in the chair this evening. I acknowledge him first for his leadership of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and, secondly, for the way he has conducted himself not only here in the Chamber but also across Auckland as he has consulted with various groups and parties. May I also acknowledge the role of the Hon Rodney Hide, and the work that he has done in bringing the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill to the Chamber, and for bringing his ideas, vision, and values to Auckland City. I also acknowledge my colleagues who sat on the select committee and listened to the people of Auckland, as well as my colleagues from across the aisle, and my Green Party and ACT colleagues who also went through the select committee process.

I will now go back to first principles. Auckland City—that is what this is bill is about. It is about Auckland City and its people. It is about Auckland City and the place it has been in the past, the two beautiful harbours that we have, and its fertile lands. It is about Auckland City being the prime driver of New Zealand’s economy. It is about a city that is rich in history and in many of the things we value as New Zealanders.

But Auckland is a city that is underperforming and is bogged down in red tape. It is a city where transport projects have been delayed over a number of years. It is a city where development and social cohesion have been prevented because of the structure and functions of the various councils across Auckland City. The issue is about having multiple agencies having to play a role in one simple consent. It is about having seven long-term capital and community plans. It is about having seven mayors and seven departments that handle resource consents, with different rules, different applications of by-laws, and different by-laws.

This bill is about bringing Auckland under one banner. It is about having one leader with one vision for the future of this city and this country. Whoever that leader may be—whether it be Mr Banks or Mr Brown—it will be a leader who will have a proven record and credibility for delivering for the people of Auckland City.

I will now turn to the issue of consultation and to what many here have described as listening to the people of Auckland City. I personally held four meetings with the Hon John Carter across my electorate, the electorate of Maungakiekie. The meetings were largely positive, where the people of Maungakiekie said that they wanted a united city. They said that they wanted a single vision, but they wanted local representation and local boards to achieve what the people want done in their local areas.

This process is about listening. All the members here have talked about listening, yet they do not have a definition for it. I looked it up. “Listen” is defined as to “make an effort to hear something” and “to hark; to attend; to hear; to note”. To listen is not to ignore, it is not about scorn, and it is not about disregard, which is what the Labour Party are talking about. To listen does not mean to bow to the demands of a rabble-rousing minority. It does not mean that.

We have heard in the Committee the scaremongering that comes from the Labour Party. The fact is that Labour members actually agree with most of this bill, but they sit there, then they stand and attack. New Zealand and Auckland are fed up with that type of attitude. People are fed up with the negativity. They are fed up with the political games and with people going to Australia to dig up dirt on other politicians. New Zealanders voted last November, and they said that they were fed up with Labour. They want a Government that they can trust. They want a Government that they can have confidence in. That Government is a John Key - led Government.

Let us turn to local boards. The fact that we are having local boards declares that if there is one single, clear message, then it is about getting the “local” back into the local community. That is why we have responded by saying that we will give local bodies some budgets. We will give them some resources. We will give them some control over what goes on in local communities.

There has been a lot of talk in the last 24 hours about leadership. We have the Mayor of Auckland, the Hon John Banks, who has been a Minister of the Crown. He has delivered to the citizens and ratepayers of Auckland City. He has delivered on policies, because what he says is what he means. He has delivered on low rates rises that are consistent with inflation. They are not 30 percent rate rises, like those proposed in the last city vision that Labour had for local government in Auckland City. The people of Auckland City have said that they were fed up with that. Tax-and-spend liberals—that is what they are fed up with.

This measure will be about leadership, it will be about credibility, and it will be about the leadership and vision needed to lead Auckland City into the future. That is why I stand in support of this bill. Thank you.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : I congratulate the previous speaker, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga—it took him only 11 hours of this debate to get up and make a speech. We have been talking for 11 hours, then he graces this Committee with his words. You know, it is quite interesting that that member got up and talked about having one leader for Auckland, one vision. That sounds a bit like communism, a bit like what went on in the old days in Russia—one leader, one vision. It surprises me that someone from the right-wing National Party would do that. It was also interesting to hear the National member who lives in Te Atatū, Tau Henare. He will not cross the floor, because he will not betray his party. He came here first of all as a member of New Zealand First, then he crossed into Mauri Pacific, then he was in the wilderness for a while, and then he joined the National Party. But something has happened to Tau Henare since he joined the National Party—this democratic party that gives people the ability to have their say. They might be able to have their say, but they cannot have the vote they want. Tau Henare was unable to have the vote he wanted. He has been put to one side.

I will talk a bit about the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I think that this bill is very, very important. I do not believe that the Government necessarily has it all right, and I do not think that the Hon John Carter or the Hon Rodney Hide think they have it all right either. That is why we on the Labour side of the Chamber talked about having a review of this legislation after 5 years, once it is up and running, to see what needs to be changed. I think this has to be built in. I think Aucklanders deserve to have a situation where they know that things that are not right, could be put right. It is very hard, when we have such major changes to legislation and the set-up, to get it right first time.

I also think we should be hearing how much this is costing Aucklanders. We know about the costs to democracy, but we need to know the financial costs. This Government has been absolutely silent on the financial costs, and that is something I think this Government owes the people of Auckland. It should be telling them what this will cost. In my electorate I have lots of elderly people who are really worried that this is going to cost them a huge amount.

Nikki Kaye: That’s because you told them.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: There goes Nikki Kaye, squawking again—squawking, squawking, squawking. That is her style. It might be all right in Auckland around the coffee bars and the wine bars, but it is not good enough in this Chamber. People want to know exactly what this is going to cost. We are going to take eight different computer systems and put them all into one system, and that is never a cheap exercise. I saw it when I was in Government. When I was a Minister I saw all these great ideas of how new computers would do marvellous things. First of all, there were what people would call stuff-ups. Then there were financial blowouts. I think Government members should get up and tell us about this.

The other thing I want to mention is local boards. I hope Manurewa has a local board; it has something like 80,000 people. And then there is Papakura with 48,000 people. Will they both have the same representation in the size of their boards? Or will they have different numbers representing the various boards? People do not know about these things, and of course Government members are not saying anything about them. Will the Māori people have an assurance that they will get elected to local boards? No, I do not think the Government will do that. But it is important that we know whether the local boards will have four people, or nine people.

Hon JOHN CARTER (Associate Minister of Local Government) : I want to respond to the point George Hawkins just made about costs. One of the things the Government has been careful about is the whole issue of costs, so I will talk about that issue for a minute. I know it is very easy to go around and say that if we add this up it will cost this much, and if we do away with that we will save that much. But we actually end up with misinformation. We end up misleading people.

I believe, and the Government believes, that as we make this change we will drive efficiencies into Auckland. One of our objectives, for example, is to get on top of the traffic congestion in Auckland, which is estimated to cost up to $2 billion a year. That is $10 per week for every person in New Zealand. Goodness knows what it costs the average person in Auckland, but it is a huge amount. If we decrease that by only half we will make significant savings. But for anyone to say we will do this or that, or say that this or that will be a consequence, quite honestly is misleading. The way in which it needs to be addressed, I say to Mr Hawkins—and I know that he knows this—is to look to drive efficiencies and better decision-making, and, as a consequence, better results.

I recall in 1989 the then Labour Government went around and told New Zealanders there would be huge savings in rates as a consequence of the changes it made. They never eventuated. We are making changes that are likely to—indeed, will—result in better efficiencies. The changes will result in efficiencies of delivery, efficiencies in transportation, and efficiencies in the way in which we make decisions. There will be all sorts of efficiencies. Of course there are also costs. There are costs with the Auckland Transition Agency at the moment. There will be some changes in terms of ways in which staff are redeployed. There will be changes to office structures. George Hawkins mentioned computers. Of course there will be costs. If we try to quantify one against the other, we come up with an answer that, quite honestly, we cannot defend or express.

I say to the Opposition that one of things we have been careful to say is that we are looking to make efficiencies. There is no question that there will be gains, but to try to quantify those in dollar terms at this stage would be stupid. We are not doing that; we will be making sure that we have an efficient structure. We will be making sure we have an authority that can deliver efficiencies and look after the regional issues that matter to Aucklanders and to New Zealand. We will have a structure that makes sure that the services that local communities want are delivered in an efficient way. We will end up with a better result as a consequence of these changes. I know that, funnily enough, the Opposition actually believes that as well, because it supports the general principle. That is one of the things that this Parliament seriously needs to note. At the end of the day it is the efficiency gains that we make out of these changes that will benefit all New Zealanders, particularly Aucklanders.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : I have no doubt that the Hon John Carter believes what he says about the changes in the bill driving efficiencies, but I want to reflect to him the experience of local communities. When the National Government says it will drive efficiencies, the experience of local communities is that some people will lose their jobs. There is uncertainty about those words, and people think that they mean that something will be cut. So far, the experience of the public in the Auckland region, in the 9 months of having a National Government, is that there have been significant cuts in health and education. That is the experience they think of when they hear those particular words. So it is quite important to think of that while we are listening to those comments.

The other thing I want to say is that the Hon George Hawkins, Ross Robertson, and I ran a survey in the early months of this year. We asked people what they felt would happen with the Government’s proposal of a super-city. Overwhelmingly, the response from the survey, or the referendum, was that people perceived that there would be increased rates as a result of the super-city structure. That is not hard for people to imagine, because local councils struggle, year in, year out, in an effort to maintain rates. It has been the experience of ratepayers throughout the Auckland region that rates go up and up. It has been our experience in Manukau that we have attempted to try to always limit the increases of expenditure to the rate of inflation. But that has been quite difficult because infrastructure such as roads, and other social infrastructure, does not get recorded in the rate of inflation calculations.

I also say that Labour has been quite clear from the start. It has always supported the reform of Auckland governance because it has been Labour’s desire. Labour wants to build a strong region. We want a dynamic region. We want an inclusive region. We want strong communities. But the proposal that has been put up by the Government is flawed and undemocratic. That is the way the people of Auckland perceive it.

I say also to Government Ministers that I know they are irked about the way we have argued about the bill, but these are not minor tinkerings around the edges of the local government structure. The changes are significant, I say to Mr Hide. They are significant changes that alter the face and the landscape of local government. It has not been done before. If Labour were putting together this proposal, we would take our time to make sure that everybody was on board.

Government members have argued and said that this is a journey, and they have talked about the “vehicle”. If the bill is the vehicle to take us into the future, then we need to get everybody on board. People are not on board, because they do not believe that the Government is doing this for the right reasons or that the structure will strengthen democracy. They believe that it will do the opposite.

I will talk briefly about the social issues. Members of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee will have heard from the overwhelming response from submitters in the Auckland region how they have concerns about whether the new structure will be able to maintain and sustain the linkages they currently have with the various city councils in Manukau and elsewhere. Many submitters argued that there has to be a proper structure that is legislated for, with sufficient resources to provide ongoing support for the needs, projects, and community activities that are currently happening for children, young people, and libraries.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I reiterate the comments of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga. Tonight we are here because we believe that the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill is the best thing for Auckland. We are here because we want to finally deliver a regional entity for Auckland that will ensure that we have a decent public transport system, and that will give the mayor, the councillors, and the local board members the ability to finally deliver a public transport system that does not involve 20 organisations in its delivery. We are here because we want to make sure that there is a major event strategy for Auckland. The sad fact is that Labour actually agrees with us that there should be one unitary authority.

We come to the issue of local representation. Are we here tonight because there is an argument about those local bodies? No, we are not. On this side of the Chamber we know that Labour has come to a position that is very similar to ours. It says we should have 14 to 20 local boards; we say we should have 20 to 30 local boards. What is the difference between 20 and 20? Nothing. Actually, there is quite a high likelihood that we could end up with a very similar number to what members opposite want. So this argument is not about the number of local entities that are delivered for Auckland.

The community boards came to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and they gave impassioned pleas. They said that they needed to have more functions and powers, and that they needed to have adequate funding. You know, we listened and we said they were absolutely right. There is a principle in the legislation that very clearly says that, except for some decisions at a regional level, decisions will be made at the lowest possible level. I have said this to members around the other parts of the country. This evening and tomorrow we are delivering possibly a stronger unit of local representation, which we have never seen before in New Zealand. That is very significant, and I feel very proud to be standing up and supporting that unit in our legislation.

The other key point that we delivered—and we made it very clear in the legislation—was that there would be funding. Finally—I made this point, and I have not heard a member on the opposite side debate it this evening—for the poorer communities, which include Māori, a principle within this legislation says that socio-economics will be a factor in the delivery of funding across Auckland. That principle has the potential to deliver more to Māori than ever before. Are the members opposite talking about it? No, they are not. But I am very proud to stand up and say that this legislation has something for the poorer communities of Auckland, and that they may finally get some equity in terms of services across Auckland.

We have heard many arguments this evening about consultation, but the members opposite have failed again to say why, after 9 years in Government, they did not deliver this consultation. They set up a royal commission. They know so much about setting up commissions, strategies, and reviews, but ultimately, at some point, when you have an 800-page report sitting in front of you, you have heard 3,500 submissions to the royal commission, and you have heard 2,500 submissions from Auckland, what do you think will come from fluffing around—

H V Ross Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. On two occasions the member has brought you into the debate. I let it go the first time. The member is now experienced enough. She should know better.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): The member will be more careful.

NIKKI KAYE: What do members actually think we will get out of fluffing around? What will members say to the 6,500 employees currently in local government across Auckland who are waiting for certainty in terms of their jobs? They would say that we should delay, that we should wait. Well, the royal commission said the members opposite are wrong; the Government must act now to ensure that we have a structure in place in time to have local body elections. Members opposite who argue anything contrary need to explain to the people of Auckland what they will do for those 6,500 people who are right now looking for certainty, and what they will say to those local body politicians. Will they say that we do not need local body elections in 2011? That is the position of the Labour Party, and it has failed to articulate how it would get over that hurdle.

Members have heard tonight many arguments about Māori representation, and I thank the people who submitted to the select committee on issues of Māori representation.

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour) : I just want to address something that the previous speaker, Nikki Kaye, said. She said we agreed with everything in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I want to clarify something. There are things in the bill that National has put out that we fundamentally disagree with, and that are completely in contrast to our values as the Labour Party.

Hon Member: Name and shame.

CARMEL SEPULONI: I will do so; the member is a little impatient. Firstly, on the issue of Māori representation, we are fundamentally opposed to what the National members are trying to do. We are completely behind the fact that Māori should have representation in Auckland. We are not going to sell them out on that one. We are fundamentally opposed to National on that. National has stated its position quite clearly. ACT has pulled National on to its side. But National would have done this anyway; it was quite happy to do this. The National members do not want there to be Māori representation; we do. In terms of the Māori and Pacific advisory boards—the voice for Māori, for Pacific people, and for the ethnic communities in Auckland—the National Government really does not care. That has been quite apparent from the get-go, but especially during this whole Committee process. We will not sell Aucklanders out on that either, we say to Ms Kaye. We ask her to please not say we agree with everything that she says, because we fundamentally disagree with a lot of things that she is pushing with regard to this bill.

One of the huge mistakes that the National Government has made—and we are still in shock that it could not take this recommendation on board—was the refusal to take on board the recommendation that there be a social issues board. This comes back to the priorities of National versus Labour. National thinks that everything is about the economy. National members still believe in the trickle-down effect. They still believe that they can ignore the things that are happening with regard to social impacts and things that are happening in society, just concentrate on the economy, and that it will all work out. We know from experience that that is not the case. When we look at the past, as I said earlier, we see that the National-ACT candidate for super-city mayor, John Banks, epitomises everything that National and ACT stand for. One example of that is that when he became Auckland mayor, we saw positions in the Auckland City Council, like that of the Pacific librarian, suddenly changed—in that case, to the position of new migrant librarian. As a Pacific person I find that difficult to comprehend, given that 60 percent of our people are now New Zealand born. We can expect those kinds of actions from the type of council that the National Government supports in the legislation that it is pushing through.

If we look at what the royal commission recommended with regard to the social issues board, we see that it identified a set of social well-being domains. I will look at some of those domains. The commission identified health, and it identified knowledge and skills. Let us just look at knowledge and skills. We already know, from the legislation that has been passed and the policy direction that this National Government has taken, that knowledge and skills are not a priority for National. The commission also identified paid work—

Nikki Kaye: What?

CARMEL SEPULONI:—paid work—as a social well-being domain. Those were recommendations from the royal commission. Yet this National Government has been quite happy to accept that 2,000 people per week have lost their job since it became the Government. The commission identified the economic standard of living as a social well-being domain. Again, this National Government knows nothing about that. The royal commission identified civil and political rights as a social well-being domain. Again, the Government’s attitude towards those rights is already reflected in the fact that it is not supportive of Māori representation on the council. The Government is not supportive of civil and political rights. The commission also identified cultural identity as a social well-being domain.

Of course the National Government chose to ignore those recommendations, because social well-being is not something the National members support. We can see that when we look at their local body counterparts who are in the National Party or the ACT Party. They include people like the Deputy Mayor of the Auckland City Council, David Hay, who opposed giving additional funding to the Pasifika Festival in Auckland earlier this year. Those people are opposed to these social well-being domains; they do not see them as being of any value. That is the problem I have with the legislation that the National Government is trying to put through.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua) : Thank you for the opportunity to speak once again on this very important bill, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill.

Dr Rajen Prasad: Something new, Dr Paul.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Yes, there will be something new, but I say to the member that he will just have to wait for a moment, because I want to reiterate the submission of the Franklin District Council, which was particularly powerful and which wished to have a unitary authority that was separate from Auckland. As I hope Mr Prasad knows, the council had very strong arguments. Those arguments acknowledged that it was absolutely appropriate for the city and urban, metropolitan Auckland to be unified and that the very things that the National-ACT coalition Government are bringing in are indeed brought in expeditiously, not after 9 years of waiting during which the Labour Government mucked around. The council also said that some of those reasons included that Franklin was totally self-sufficient in water, in stormwater, in reticulation, in sewerage, etc. It also pointed out how very, very important it was to ensure that the class 1 and class 2 soils of the Franklin area were preserved and to ensure that urban sprawl did not cause erosion of this very, very important factor, of which Franklin is so proud and from which it supplies not only Auckland but also the rest of New Zealand, and which is very important for exporting around the world.

There is no doubt that to have a separate unitary authority was going to be a hard ask, because neither the royal commission nor the response from the Government supported that. I must say that I personally got in right behind the council. I, with various other luminaries—Sir William Birch; Lindsay Tisch, the excellent member for Waikato; Mayor Mark Ball; and others—sought to support it. I reiterate that not one Labour member supported the submission of the Franklin District Council. We have heard George Hawkins wax lyrical, but he did not get off the bowling greens of Manurewa to even come up to Pukekohe to consult. We have Ross Robertson, of course, who continues his maniacal gibberish, and who also failed in any way to support the Franklin District Council. We have had total silence from Nanaia Mahuta. But, sadly, right now we have a situation where the boundary lines are drawn through both Waiuku and Pukekohe. There is no doubt that under the Local Government Commission determination, they must be moved south.

Phil Twyford: I’d say that’s the worst possible scenario, wouldn’t you?

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Yes, it is, and I hope, Mr Twyford, that you will pressure the Local Government Commission to ensure that they are moved south.

H V Ross Robertson: Point of order—

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Ross Robertson should sit down. It is a waste of time. [Interruption]

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I do not think the member needs to state what it is. The member on his feet referred to the Chair—

H V Ross Robertson: Further point of order—

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I am on my feet. The member will sit down. The member referred to the Chair by use of the wrong pronoun. I ask him to be careful about that.

H V Ross Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. You know as well as I do that a point of order is to be heard in silence and that it is to be short and straight to the point. When I tried to raise a point of order there was rabble-rousing from members on the other side of the Chamber and you ignored it.

The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): The Chair is not required to hear a point of order when the Chair is about to move on the matter. I ruled the member on his feet out of order, which I think was the intention of the member. The member himself created some noise and he stayed on his feet when I was making my ruling. We are going to have some order around this.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: I take note of what you have said, Mr Chairperson. I must admit that I was distracted by the gibberish from the other side. Indeed, I challenge anyone in this Chamber to ensure that those lines move south. But I want to go further than that. I really do wonder about the sincerity of George Hawkins and the Labour Party when we see this technically abysmally drafted amendment in the name of George Hawkins. I think the Hon Rodney Hide pointed out quite succinctly just how bad it was when we had an amendment that could potentially extend the Auckland super-city beyond Mount Ruapehu.

I have a little note here. It says: “Member and party: George Hawkins MP Labour, Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, proposes the southern boundary be south of the current Franklin district and follow the boundary of the Waikato River catchment. Comment: This amendment does not make sense.” That is the summary of the utter confusion amongst the Labour Party.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) : I listened to Mr Carter, who has almost woven a fantasy about what these local boards will be able to do. I do not doubt his sincerity and that he genuinely believes it. He said that we have ensured the local voice is going to prevail, and the local communities are going to be empowered under this bill. I found myself almost caught up in his fantasy and his enthusiasm, and I wish that it were true, but I ask the Committee how local boards can be empowered when they have four to nine members, when they have no staff, when they have no autonomy, when they have no resources, when they have no service delivery function, and when they are completely subservient to the council. That is the problem: his fantasy does not match reality.

Nikki Kaye talked about this wonderful principle of subsidiarity that will ensure the local boards are empowered. But any fool could read this and realise the folly of what she is saying, because of the exceptions in that clause that allow the Auckland Council to veto almost any decision of a local board. Ross Robertson is worried about his swimming pools in Manukau. Mr Carter said: “Oh, no, don’t worry about that. They’ll be allowed to have free swimming pools if they want free swimming pools.” But, actually, if Mr Banks is the mayor all he needs to do is look at that clause and say that the impact of the decision will extend beyond a single local board area and, therefore, it can be vetoed—and would it not be, if there were to be free swimming pools in Manukau?

Look at—

Aaron Gilmore: Paranoia conspiracies!

SUE KEDGLEY: There is nothing paranoid; there is nothing conspiratorial; all I am doing is reading the legislation. Speaking of conspiracy, however, I want to turn to another subject, which is the ACT local government policy, taken fresh off its website. It is still up there. At least ACT is completely up front about its intentions. Its policy states: “Local government should progressively shed ownership of its commercial activities. … Roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis.” I remind all members of this Parliament and all Aucklanders what the intention of ACT is in this bill. One of the intentions is to set the Auckland Council up in such a way that the Government can pluck the $28 billion worth the council’s assets, get its hands on them, and privatise them. We need to put the legislation in the context of ACT being deprived of its desire to sell off national assets, so it is turning to local government—and where better than Auckland Council, where there is $28 billion of assets, ready for the plucking! So thank heavens we have Phil Twyford’s amendment! It basically says that no asset would be able to be disposed of without a majority of valid votes cast in a referendum. Unfortunately, this will probably be voted down, like everything else.

If John Banks gets into power—as he said this morning on radio, he already has 600 people on his campaign team—he will have vast amounts of money. How does one win an election with 1.4 million voters? I think Auckland has a population of 1.4 million, with 800,000 voters. Someone pointed out that one would have to be very rich to even put out one pamphlet to as many voters as that. Of course, the election for the mayoralty of the super-city will favour John Banks because he will be able to throw at the issue his 600-member campaign team and his vast resources, which will be marshalled by right-wing Aucklanders. They see this as a golden opportunity to get their hands on those assets, progressively corporatise them, put them into Crown-owned companies, get them ready for privatising, and then pluck them off, one by one.

In Wellington when I was a city councillor, we had Capital Power, which was a very good, very efficient organisation. In came councillors like Mark Blumsky and others, and sold them off.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : The Social Issues Board is the issue I will talk about. It is one of the issues that I think has been neglected by this National-ACT Government over the last 5 months. It has ignored the recommendations and the findings of the royal commission in relation to the Social Issues Board, and it deserves serious consideration. The royal commission pointed out, quite accurately, that Auckland as a city has some entrenched problems that are more difficult and more complicated than other parts of the country have. One of those problems is the level of income inequality and poverty. The commission makes the point that the social infrastructure and the social well-being of a city are just as important as the physical infrastructure. Can we be a world-class city if too many children are dying before they reach the age of 5? Can we be a world-class city if a young couple cannot afford to buy their own home? Can we be a world-class city if there is no decent public transport to get from home to work?

The royal commission made the point very well that for too long local government in Auckland has abdicated its responsibility. Even though the four well-beings set out in the Local Government Act—economic, social, cultural, and environmental—are spelt out clearly as a mandate for local government, too many councils, too many mayors, and too many councillors have washed their hands of the responsibility for social well-being. They have said it is central government’s responsibility; it is not their job. The sell-off of pensioner housing by Auckland City a few years ago is a classic example of that kind of behaviour. For those reasons, I am promoting a Supplementary Order Paper this evening that would establish a Social Issues Board in line with the recommendations of the royal commission. It would set up a board that provides high-level political and official leadership for a social well-being strategy, plan, and budget for the region.

The royal commission pointed out that $12 billion a year is spent in Auckland by central and local government on social development purposes. But it rightly identified that too much of that funding is not targeted and deployed as accurately as it could be. There is enormous potential for central government and local government to work together in a way that is more creative and more innovative to tackle the whole problem of social well-being. This evening we intend to put forward this amendment to set up a Social Issues Board. It would be supported by an advisory group of officials from the different councils, so that the analysis and the data collection would be done to inform good work in this area. The royal commission also identified the need for a committee of councillors on the Auckland Council to feed into this strategy.

These recommendations have basically been ignored by the Government. All we got—and I say this to the member for Auckland Central—was Paula Bennett, the Minister for Social Development and Employment, announcing a pathetic social issues forum of people who would meet every couple of months. It is a token effort; it is a fig leaf. It is typical of the kind of importance that this Government attaches to social well-being.

All of this will count for nothing, I say to members, if Rodney Hide has his way with the review of the Local Government Act. The very mandate that allows councils to work on social well-being will be stripped out of the Local Government Act because of the Minister’s core services agenda. I challenge the Minister to take a call and tell us tonight what those core services are. We asked him on television the other night and he would not say. He could not say or would not say. Will pensioner housing be considered a core service? Will libraries be considered an acceptable area of endeavour for local government? Will community development be considered? I do not know. What about childcare? What about early childhood education? Will they be part of the core services? These questions are making Aucklanders mistrustful and anxious about what kind of a super-city we will end up with, because of the extremist agenda this Minister is running.

JOHN BOSCAWEN (ACT) : When I took a call earlier this evening I referred to the fact that as I was walking across the bridge to the Chamber I said to the Hon George Hawkins: “You stand up and give a speech, because if it is typical of what Labour members have said on this debate so far today, I will be able to take it apart sentence by sentence.” Well, George Hawkins did not let me down. Mr Hawkins talked about the cost of integration. I was very pleased that Mr John Carter took a call immediately after Mr Hawkins to point out the fact that we should not look just at the cost of integration but at the benefits. We should look at the overwhelming benefits of having one city.

What is the example that George Hawkins gave? He said that currently we have eight computer systems and we will move to one, so we have to go out and buy one new computer system. Mr Hawkins and Labour members should look not at the cost of the one new computer system but at the cost of the existing eight computer systems that are currently in place, at the cost of the eight different sets of programmes, at the cost of eight different sets of hardware, and at the cost of running them. They should also look at the massive inefficiency with that. I knew I could rely on George Hawkins to point out the folly of his own argument and why we need to have a super-city, and I was not let down.

When I was campaigning in Mt Albert I came across a plumber. He said that on his truck he had pipes that he could put in in Manukau City, pipes he could install in Waitakere City, and pipes he could install in Auckland City, and that none of them would go across the boundaries. He has to carry three different sets of pipes. What is the cost to Auckland and Auckland’s residents of that?

Talking about Mt Albert, David Shearer made a comment today that was in keeping with the misinformation that Labour wants to put out. He talked about the cost of a councillor running an at-large campaign. He said it would cost $200,000 to run an at-large campaign. We have all campaigned. To print 500,000 copies of a piece of A4-sized paper, folded three times over to fit into a DL envelope, costs about $25,000. If that cost is split between 10 councillors, that is $2,500 a councillor. If the 600 volunteers that Mr Banks has reputedly arranged are used—we have been told about them this afternoon—then there is a free delivery service. Labour has consistently argued, through misinformation, against having at-large councillors. It would cost nothing like $200,000 to run an at-large campaign. If members want an example, they need just to look at the election that is happening right now in Aucklanders’ backyards and in Mr Hawkins’ backyard for the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust.

I come now to Carmel Sepuloni. What did she say? She referred to the fact that in the Auckland City Council the Pacific librarian has been changed to the new migrant librarian, and she takes exception to that. She said that as a Pacific person she finds it difficult that the Pacific librarian has been replaced with a new migrant librarian. I think that illustrates the point.

We also heard from Mr Sio this evening. He said that Pacific peoples are prepared to put aside their aspirations for a seat at the top table so that we can have specialised Māori seats. Mr Sio was really saying that we should get Māori seats and that once we have Māori seats on the council we should get Pacific seats. It will not be good for Carmel Sepuloni and the Labour Party to have new migrant seats. We will have to have Pacific seats, Asian seats, and whatever else seats. The Labour members have dramatically illustrated why we need to have this bill.

I will come back to Ross Robertson’s comments. He stood up and waxed lyrical about the fact that Ōtāhuhu does not have a swimming pool. I know something about Ōtāhuhu because I grew up there and in Papatoetoe. I am a very proud former pupil of Otahuhu College. My father was a pupil there, a teacher there, and a principal there. The people of Ōtāhuhu built a swimming pool at the school in the 1950s. They dug it by hand, and they were very proud of that community asset.

I want to talk about asset utilisation. That is where the overwhelming savings will come in with the super-city. We are constantly told about the $28 billion worth of assets in Auckland. Well, let us utilise those assets.

When I indicated that there is a swimming pool in Ōtāhuhu in the Otahuhu College swimming pool, what did Mr Robertson say? He said that it does not count.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : It is very clear that Nikki Kaye and John Carter are the dour salespersons for this particular bill. As they keep doing that with such intensity, we do not see quite the full story coming out. But before I get into that, I have to say that my good friend Mr Paul Quinn clearly has not read anything to do with this particular area, nor is he aware of what is in the royal commission’s report. He did ask repeatedly a few minutes ago what social well-being is. Well, I want him to go and read page 204 of the royal commission’s report.

Paul Quinn: Tell me what that means.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: Social well-being is defined as “those aspects of life that society collectively agrees are important for a person’s happiness, quality of life and welfare”. That includes the member’s. I do not know what Mr Quinn is doing here if he does not know what that means. He should try to understand what it is.

Paul Quinn: What is it?

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: I think it is the minimum expectation of those who might have voted for him. They would expect him to understand what “social well-being” is. It is what we do, day in and day out, in this Chamber. For the member to say: “What is it?” , and not understand it, is really quite a sad state of affairs. If the member shouted less from the back of the Chamber and read a bit more, he might get there.

It is clear that the Government refuses to accept that this side of the Chamber has a number of fundamental difficulties with the bill as reported—

Nikki Kaye: What are they?

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: If the member is patient, I will tell her. She has been asking what they are, all evening. She is displaying her inability to listen to what we have been trying to say. What is more, the member should really try to recall what they are. But for her benefit I shall repeat them. Labour members have been saying, time and time again, that we have to get the participation right. The bill does not have the participation right. We have been saying the Government has to get the powers of the boards right, and it has not got them right. The Government has to get the social issues right, but it has not got them right. The Government has to get the issue of Māori seats right, but it has not got them right. The member forgets all those things.

But let me turn to what is more fundamental, and that is the social issues. I hope Mr Quinn is listening.

Paul Quinn: I am—intently.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: Well, if he is quiet he will understand better. Auckland is a city of 1.4 million people. It is diverse ethnically and in every other way. It is diverse socially, culturally, and geographically. The double-dipping member will soon understand what I am talking about—if he is able to do that. Any city of that size ought to have a governance structure that addresses the well-being of its citizens explicitly. The report so far does not do that. Members ought to know that the expectation of every person who submitted on social issues, bar one, was that social issues should be a priority of the Auckland Council. So what did the royal commission do? It spent a significant amount of time on this particular issue, and this is what the royal commissioners said: for Auckland to become a world-class city—and I ask Mr Quinn to listen very carefully—“improved social well-being outcomes are critical.” Without improved social well-being outcomes, Auckland will not be a great, world-leading city.

So what did the royal commission do? It produced a report that tells us all of the social issues that Auckland has to deal with. It would pay members opposite to be a little generous and a little better informed about the real potential of the partnership between local government and central government to address social issues in Auckland. It is all very well during an election campaign for a party to say it will be tough on crime, etc; when the opportunity comes to really do something more fundamental about those who miss out, and the social issues board really has the opportunity to do that, it fails.

PAUL QUINN (National) : I have to say that I had not intended to speak at all on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, because I know that we are in very capable and outstanding hands under the leadership of Nikki Kaye, Sam Lotu-Iiga, John Carter, and the Minister for Local Government, Rodney Hide, who are doing an outstanding job as we work our way through this bill. There is absolutely no need for me to stand. But I have sat here since the dinner break, and I have to say that the quality of the debate coming from members on the Opposition side of the Chamber does the Committee a total injustice. They should be crucified for the quality of the debate.

I have listened to most of the debate. This morning, right at the start, at 9 o’clock, I sat in my office listening to the Opposition. The main focus of its attack this morning and last night was about our not listening to the people. Those members were critical of members on this side of the Chamber, because, supposedly, we were not listening to the people. I ask them, in response, how the previous Labour Government got the name “nanny State”. Why was your Government known as the nanny State? Because you told people how to do everything. You listened to no one.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): Order!

PAUL QUINN: Those members listened to no one. Numerous examples littered the 9 years of that administration. It reached its nadir in the Electoral Finance Act, which was brought in under Lynne Pillay’s chairmanship of the Justice and Electoral Committee. She knows all about ramming legislation through the House and not listening.

The other matter to do with Opposition members that I have observed in this debate is that all their objections are someone else’s bandwagon that they have picked up. Last night Hone Harawira gave an outstanding contribution to this debate. He noted that the only time that Labour came on board on the Māori seats and tried to claim them as its own was when it thought it might be on to a winner. We also saw that last week in the debate on the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill. Those members had nothing to contribute, then finally they thought they would object to the provisions to do with trees. And we had the Hone Harawira experience in terms of the Māori seats. The lesson is that because those members have no vision of their own and no free thought, they react—they react.

Then we had the contribution from the previous speaker, Dr Rajen Prasad, on social well-being. We had PC claptrap about social well-being. Can I say—[Interruption]

Dr Rajen Prasad: Shh!

PAUL QUINN: Are members listening? Please could I have a bit of quiet; those members should listen to Rajen. Social well-being in my terms is that people are happy and proud of their city. They are proud of their city when they have good transport. They are proud of their city when they are well led. They are proud of their city when they have pathways. They are proud of their city when the sewerage system works.

CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) : I rise to speak to an amendment in my name to clause 12 of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. The intention of this amendment is to look at making sure that we stop any potential double-dipping or representational rip-offs. I know that the Minister, the Hon Rodney Hide, has spoken about this earlier today, and that we might need to tighten up the wording of the amendment a bit, but let us be clear about the intention. The intention, as I say, is to stop any potential double-dipping and representational rip-offs. It would mean that MPs, for example, would not be able to stand at the elections next year for the Auckland Council, and in the meantime, if there was a parliamentary by-election, it would stop a councillor from becoming an MP and remaining a councillor.

That is a very important principle, we believe, especially at this time, when we will be going through a fundamental change in Auckland’s governance. We want to have people who can really focus on the job and do the job properly, and who can make sure that they spend the requisite amount of time doing either job. The bill as it is drafted already covers a similar sort of situation. It covers the situation of a person who is already on a local board then being elected to the council. It is the same sort of principle.

In this House we have an illustration of the problem that this amendment tries to deal with. This example is councillor and MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who often finds that he cannot, or does not, do both jobs properly. That is fair enough. It would take a superhuman effort to be an MP—which is more than a full-time job, as we all know—and a councillor, and he is certainly not managing to do it. The community is aware of that. Here is an article from a while back, headed “Missing in action”—he is the “Missing in Action Man”—because the community really does not believe that he can do the job. The real issue is that to hold two important jobs representing citizens is to effectively reduce the representation that people have in the Maungakiekie electorate—

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: I’m doing better with two jobs that you’re doing with one, Carol.

CAROL BEAUMONT: —those people whom reputedly he represents, the people of the Maungakiekie electorate—and in the Tamaki-Maungakiekie ward of the Auckland City Council. In the course of doing those jobs, the member concerned receives two salaries, some of which may or may not be donated, at his discretion, to organisations in the electorate.

I think an illustration of the problem is the silence of the member Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga on the Auckland governance reform. It was 11 hours into the debate on this bill before he rose to speak, probably due to uncertainty, I think, about which hat he is wearing. It does raise the question as to whether there are any differences between National’s position on this reform and that of the Banks-led Citizens and Ratepayers councillors of Auckland City Council. I know that the member concerned is a very big fan of both the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, and also of the Mayor of Auckland, John Banks.

On the face of it, the member Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga might have had a bit to contribute to this debate. I am prepared to be fair-minded. On the face of it, having done both jobs, I think that he could have a bit to contribute to this debate. But his contribution all the way through it has been minimal. In what I heard of tonight’s contribution, he was telling us all how good Rodney Hide is and that he supports Rodney Hide’s ideological position, before going on to say that everybody he has spoken to supports these changes. Well, I have to tell members that that certainly does not align with what I hear when I talk to Aucklanders generally, and in the Maungakiekie electorate in particular. One of my colleagues happened to mention that some friends had attended a Government meeting on Auckland governance, where Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga did not really talk very much because John Carter carried the can, and that the friends said the MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga was bullying people at that meeting. He said that they were not listening and he did not agree with the point of view that they were putting forward.

I think that it is important for us to clarify in this Committee the point that the people who are taking on such an important role should devote their full time and energy to undertaking that role. I am sure that members opposite would agree with me on that. We all absolutely recognise the importance of these changes to Auckland’s governance.

Dr CAM CALDER (National) : I am very happy to stand yet again to speak on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. I know that my colleague Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be speaking again, because you will keep; you will keep. And we do have a little competition in National.

Carmel Sepuloni: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I am a new member, but I do not think it is right for that member to be saying that you—the Chairperson—will keep.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): At this hour I hope to be keeping a bit longer. I know that the word “you” has been used many times during this debate. I make it clear to members that they cannot bring the Chair into the debate.

The second point is that there has also been some familiarity coming into the speeches by way of calling a member by his or her first name. We have to call members by their full name, or call him or her “the member”, or sir, or whatever. The point was well made. From now on, could members please show some decorum and respect the protocols that are important as this debate continues.

Dr CAM CALDER: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I would like to mention once again the enormous contribution paid by visionaries in the past in the Auckland firmament. I am referring, of course, to Sir John Logan Campbell, who created a wonderful park in the verdant, leafy electorate of Epsom. Another person who springs to mind is Sir Dove-Myer Robinson.

I believe in the importance of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, and in the skill and panache with which the Hon Rodney Hide and the Hon John Carter have steered this bill through the myriad of rocks and whirlpools along the way to this point. We are not there yet, but we are getting there. I believe that in the future the Hon Rodney Hide and the Hon John Carter could well be remembered in the same breath as luminaries such as Sir John Logan Campbell and Sir Dove-Meyer Robinson. What is the city? As Shakespeare said: “What is the city but the people?”.

Hon Members: Oh!

Dr CAM CALDER: Members are in for another treat: “Oh, blank confusion! True epitome of what the mighty city is herself, to thousands upon thousands of her sons, living amid the same perpetual whirl of trivial objects, melted and reduced to one identity …”. Those are the words of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.

Unlike the unlamented, dilatory, despondent, dismal, detached, detumescent, one could say flaccid, and failed phantom of the late Labour administration, and unlike the empty husk of what was the previous Government, this National Government has been principled, pragmatic, and inclusive, and it has been listening. We have concentrated on hearing the people. We have taken heed of the hundreds of submissions, the plethora of proposals, and we have paid attention to the arguments of armies of Aucklanders. I again ask members, as Shakespeare did, “What is the city but the people?”.

One of the most frequently heard submissions was a plea for a European Union - like subsidiarity, a concept that is taken to the nth degree in France. There they have small areas of fewer than 10 or 15 square kilometres with fewer than 300 souls. We have listened to the requests for representation by communities of interest in the myriad of proposals that came to the royal commission and to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee. The Local Government Commission will decide on between 20 and 30 local boards to reflect these different communities of interest.

Whilst campaigning in Manurewa, I found that the majority of people are hard-working and ambitious for themselves and their children. They have certain requirements, many of which this Government is already addressing with early childhood education, more police, more patrol cars, and more insulation for their houses. But chief among their requirements was a need to live in security, to be educated well and to have their children educated well, and they wanted access to world-class health care. These are the typical needs of all communities. They are the same as for the people in Epsom, on the North Shore, in Fendalton, in Christchurch, in Māori Hill in Dunedin, in Thorndon here in Wellington, or in any community in Greater Auckland that members may consider. There are communities with the same interests. There are similar needs and similar requirements, but there are differences within those small communities and we have been listening to them. There will be between 20 and 30 local boards instigated by the Local Government Commission. Those boards will have real local authority. They will enable democratic decision-making.

Hon DARREN HUGHES (Labour) : Thank you very much for the chance to participate in the debate. When the history of the literary world is written up it may well put Shakespeare and Wordsworth together, but I do not think Calder will be the other part of the contribution of that particular trio. It is always good to count the clichés the member uses in his speeches; now we are down to counting the number of times he uses alliteration as part of a very clever speaking device that he was obviously taught at some toastmasters club that is long since defunct.

One of the points the National-ACT Government has been making in this debate is that this legislation is about having better decision-making for Auckland. The Associate Minister of Local Government, the Hon John Carter, said earlier that it was important that parties did not jump on bandwagons. But as I have sat here for hour after hour listening to this debate, it is very clear that this bill has not been put together in a way that promotes better decision-making at all. Every single stage of the legislative process for Auckland governance has been done under urgency. We do not have a written constitution in New Zealand, so when it comes to local government for Auckland, our biggest city, it is a pretty major deal for members of Parliament to be debating and voting on. We have some areas we agree on and lots we disagree on, but we would all agree that this is pretty important stuff. Yet the Government, which says this measure is about better decision-making, has rushed every single step of it through under urgency.

The Government set up a select committee. That is where the legislature gets to scrutinise legislation put forward by the executive. What was National’s approach to that? It was to appoint a Minister of the Crown, who is the Associate Minister for the portfolio to which this bill relates, as the chairperson of the select committee. Apparently, that is because it is all about better decision-making. This is meant to be all about better decision-making, so we have had urgency, urgency, urgency, and a Minister of the Crown running the select committee process.

Then this bill came back to the House, and the Leader of the House said: “We will not do this under urgency again, because we know that we have been criticised for not listening.” And what are we doing now? We are sitting on this bill under urgency.

We heard that at the select committee the National members went out of their way to make submitters feel that they were being listened to. Those members told everyone that they were welcome, and said how important their work was and how interesting their issues were, and all of those submitters went away thinking that they had been listened to by National. Yet there is not a single change on the issues of substance in this bill because of what the submitters have said.

Nikki Kaye: That’s wrong.

Hon DARREN HUGHES: What has happened instead is that members like the member for Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye, have proved that great Mike Moore line of politics: “Sincerity is everything. If you can fake it, you’ve got it made.” That is what those members have done. On all of these issues they have not been able to deliver for the people of Auckland like they were meant to do.

Let us take just the issue of Māori seats. We were told this week that after the select committee process was hijacked over the Māori seats and the boundary issue, the boundary issue lasted 10 to 12 days. Ironic, that, because that is how long Cabinet took to consider the decision of the royal commission. We were asked to believe that Cabinet read an 800-page report in 12 days. I know that Mr Quinn is capable of that, but none of the other members opposite are. Within 10 to 12 days the boundary issue, which had been hijacked, was all back on again for some people. It was all on again for the people of Rodney. I think that they have an effective member of Parliament who could twist the Government’s arm. The member of Parliament who apologised on the radio this morning is not so good.

Why was the issue of Māori seats not revisited in the same way that the boundary issue was? I remember that when Hone Harawira spoke in the first debate on Auckland governance we had under urgency, he could not wait to put the boot into Labour over the amendments that we had put forward on the Māori seats. He said that it was terrible, because we had to put Māori seats together with other forms of representation. Even though it was explained privately to him that it was the only procedural thing we could do, he then went and attacked Labour again, after he had that information. He diminished himself enormously in my eyes at that point.

The speeches that the Māori Party has given greasing up to the National Government and putting the boot into Labour along with the Greens—the only parties that have stood up for this issue consistently from day one—have been a disgrace, because National has shown that it will back down on issues. It backed down on the boundary issue, and the Māori Party has not been able to convince it on the Māori seats issue. But apparently that is all Labour’s fault, according to the Māori Party speaker. It is a disgrace the way that Māori Party members have been putting forward that view.

The Green Party, with only nine MPs and 6 percent of the vote, has given more speeches in this debate than has the National Government, with 58 seats and 44 percent of the vote. That is what has been happening in this debate. The Green Party has outdone National on that.

Phil Twyford: Lazy Government.

Hon DARREN HUGHES: It is absolutely a lazy Government. Half the National members who are directly affected by the matters in this legislation have not bothered to take a call. National said that it was ambitious for New Zealand and that it would listen, but it has not even bothered. We have Pansy Wong, who spent 12 years in this House as a list member. She was desperate to become an electorate member—good on her, she became the member for Botany at the last general election—but she sat in the Chamber while we debated whether there should be a board for Asian Aucklanders to be represented on the council and she did not say a single word.

This legislation is not about better decision-making or about bringing people together. What this is about is good old-fashioned power, where National members are trying to put together a deal for themselves and ignore the substance of the issues that have been put forward by Labour. Those members just do not care about Auckland.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) : I thank the former MP for Ōtaki, Darren Hughes, for that drivel.

David Garrett: The former electorate MP.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: He is the former electorate MP for Ōtaki—that is right. I will address the points my learned colleague Ms Beaumont raised, and the absolute hypocrisy that she and her party members—

Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I fully respect the fact that the Standing Orders of the Auckland City Council are different from those of Parliament and that the member has to try to follow both, but a member cannot possibly accuse another member of hypocrisy. It is out of order in Parliament and it must also be so in Auckland City Council, which the member is so familiar with.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): Thank you. The member who raised the point of order is correct. I ask the member to withdraw his comment.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: Withdrawn. A number of Labour MPs have been both MPs and councillors concurrently—for example, Mr Michael Bassett from 1972 to 1975, and Mr Richard Northey from 1984 to 1986.

Hon Member: What party?

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: I do not know what party. The members just seemed to me to be saying one thing and doing another. We had the Hon George Hawkins sitting at the back of the Chamber as Mayor of Papakura as well as a member of Parliament. There is the hypocrisy, and there is the playing of the man but not the ball. When the issues cannot be discussed, Labour members resort to attacking people, personalities, and characters. We saw it during the election campaign last year. We saw the sort of character Labour members have. The president of the party—not some backroom analyst but the president of the party, Mike Williams—went to Melbourne to dig up dirt on the current Prime Minister. What did Mike Williams find? I ask Mr Garrett what he found. I ask Miss Kaye what he found. I ask Mr Bennett what he found. I ask Mr Hide what he found.

Hon Members: Nothing.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: He found nothing—absolutely nothing.

But let us talk about the consultation that went on in Maungakiekie, where Ms Beaumont did not set up any public meetings and where I set up four public meetings.

Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We are in the Committee stage of the debate on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. The member has not said anything about the bill.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I ask the member to come back to the content of the bill. The debate has been wide ranging; it is a 16-hour debate. There has been some latitude, but I ask the member to confine his comments to the content of the bill.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: As they say, it is a night of clichés. If Labour members cannot handle the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

At one of the meetings in Ellerslie, Ms Beaumont did not turn up; she sent her best friend, Mary-Ann, and Mary-Ann’s partner. Mary-Ann is from the Service and Food Workers Union. What did they do? They turned up and swore. They cursed and swore at the public meeting. What did we do? The Hon John Carter and I just said, with respect, that we do not use that language where we come from. We said we did not know why they would use such language. Is the mission of Labour Party members to go to public meetings and swear, curse, and abuse members of Parliament? I challenge Ms Beaumont to say whether she supports that type of action. If she does not—

Lynne Pillay: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson—

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): Look, there have been some attacks here. I asked the member to come back to the substance of the debate. The member has 42 seconds remaining. He should concentrate on the substance, as opposed to personal attacks.

PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA: I just say that the Service and Food Workers Union has a lot of really good, hard workers. They would certainly not accept that type of language and abuse.

It is about delivering, and the voters of Maungakiekie will make their decision in 2011. It is about delivering for that community and about a foreshore restoration with $28 million, which as a councillor I promoted. It is about a train station in Onehunga—three train stations. It is about the Tāmaki Transformation Programme. It is about housing for the poor in Maungakiekie. And it is about delivering for the people we represent. Thank you.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : I will cover what was said by the previous speaker, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, about double-dipping. There is a difference between him and me: I was successful; he is not. I think that is very clear. I managed to keep my seat; he will not keep his seat.

He should have talked about the poor—those people who will have to pay the bill for the super-city. We have pensioners and pensioner houses in Auckland. What happened with John Banks as mayor? He got rid of those houses. People fear that that will happen again. People fear that they will lose their houses. We see it with the National Government selling off State houses. It is not a very big step to the super-city doing the same thing with pensioner houses.

Who will pay for the super-city? I brought up this issue before, and it is very, very important. I do not think enough consideration has been given to how all this will be funded. I tell that member that the last time we had a reorganisation of local government I was Mayor of Papakura. Papakura was the only one of the Auckland councils that did not put up its rates. I remember Waitakere rates under Assid Corban going up by, I think, 19.3 percent. Most places suffered huge increases in their costs. The reason for those increases was that people did not plan well and they thought that bigger would be cheaper and more efficient. Of course, it was not. I am not saying that the Government should not do this reorganisation, but it should tell people what the financial costs are.

We are finding out what the democratic costs are, and that people will have less say—we all know that.

Nikki Kaye: That’s wrong.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: It is absolutely right; of course it is. People will have less say. That member has not worked out yet that one mayor is fewer than seven mayors. She has not worked it out yet. That member can squawk as much as she likes, but the fact is that people in Manukau love their mayor, Len Brown. In Waitakere what did we see? People always love Bob Harvey. Good old Bob! In Papakura the mayor is Calum Penrose. People will lose their mayors. That is the democratic cost of the bill.

The financial cost is something that people who are struggling at the moment in an economic downturn find hard to believe. How are we going to pay for it? It is all very well for the member Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, the temporary member for Maungakiekie. He should run for the super-council if he is as confident as that. He should give up Parliament and have a go. I would even tell people to vote for him if it meant he did not come back here. That is how willing I am to help the guy.

Rodney Hide is driving the legislation, and everyone knows where he stands on the bill. There is absolutely no doubt where he stands, which is good. But he should tell people what it will mean for them each week and how much it will cost them. The Government cannot tell us how much the set-up of the super-city and the change-over will cost, so how can it tell us what it will cost when the new super-city has been set up? I have not seen anything that is bigger, newer, and shinier but costs less. That is the reality. That is what people are scared about. It does not matter whether people are wrong in their thinking; it is their perception that matters. People actually believe that the super-city council will not be cheaper and will not be more in their faces; it will cost them more.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I start by acknowledging a few comments from Mr Hawkins. One of the things he said was that people will have less representation under the structure proposed by the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. That is absolute rubbish. Not just this side of the Chamber is saying that; a group of community boards around the country is arguing for 20 to 30 local boards, rather than the 14 to 20 the Opposition wants. The community boards back the Government; they do not back the members opposite.

The second point I want to make is that we know that Labour is talking about a whole lot of unicorns and leprechauns this evening. Labour is flying kites. Labour actually supports one unitary authority. Mr Hawkins is saying that having one mayor will mean less representation. He needs to stand up and say in the Chamber this evening that he does not support a unitary authority. He does, and we know that. We also know that in terms of the number of local boards and their functions and powers, the Labour Opposition is pretty much where we are. The issues that are being flown by the Labour Party are absolute scaremongering.

Issue No. 1 is the social issues board. I remind members of this Committee that on 4 May of this year the Minister for Social Development and Employment actually listened to the recommendation of the royal commission and set up the Auckland Social Policy Forum. The difference between members on this side of the Chamber and members on that side is that we do not need legislation and bureaucracy to achieve the result. That issue is very clearly being dealt with by the Minister for Social Development and Employment.

The other scaremongering the Opposition is doing is around the issue of cost. The cost of traffic congestion to the people of Auckland is $2 billion a year. How much does that cost each person in Auckland? Yes, there will be operational costs, but everyone believes in a unitary authority, including the members opposite. We believe, in terms of our public transport system and in terms of the major events our city has lost, that the cost to Auckland of not doing this is too much. The cost of not acting and not delivering this for Auckland is far greater than the cost of sitting on our hands, as the previous Labour Government did in its 9 years and would continue to do.

The other kite that is being flown by Labour is around the so-called secret agenda. I point Labour members to a provision in the bill. Mr Twyford has gone to public meetings, which I have been at, and told members of the arts community that there will be no funding for them. I reassure members on the opposite side of the Chamber, and I refer them to clause 10. It is very clear that clause 10 allows for: “better enabling the promotion of the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities”. So it is very clear—and it is backed up by the Local Government Act—that there is no secret agenda.

The final point I want to deal with concerns the mythical sale of assets. For members on the opposite side of the Chamber who have not read the Local Government Act, I will give them a provision right here. Section 97 states that a local authority cannot decide to buy or sell a strategic asset, “transfer the ownership or control of a strategic asset”, or “construct, replace, or abandon a strategic asset:” unless “the decision is explicitly provided for in its long-term community plan;”, and it is consulted on in that context.

So we have here this evening a bill that provides for a unitary authority that we all believe will finally be able to deliver the regional infrastructure and finally be able to stop the congestion in Auckland. We all believe in having better local representation. Members opposite agree with that. They want 14 to 20 boards, whereas we want 20 to 30. They are flying a whole lot of kites in terms of a social issues forum, but it already exists. They are flying a kite in terms of selling assets, but there are provisions about that in the Local Government Act. They are flying a kite in terms of costs when they know that the whole reason we are here is the cost to Auckland of not moving forward. Members opposite are filibustering this legislation. They actually disagree with very few points.

The last issue I want to touch on is the issue of minorities and representation. Many communities turned up to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and said they do not feel they have an adequate voice. I remind members again that we have listened to those people and we have said that we will be looking at that issue in the third bill we introduce.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) : We have just heard a bit of passion from the honourable member Nikki Kaye, but she did not address the social issues that the Opposition is concerned about. In that respect I support the amendment put forward by the honourable member Phil Twyford about the social issues board. There were 109 submitters who commented on social issues, and all but one wanted social issues to be a priority for the Auckland Council. Let me list some of them. Age Concern Counties Manukau believes that multigenerational facilities are needed. Several Manukau City residents who live in the area of most concern said they wanted to retain their free access to swimming pools and libraries, although some submitters wanted those services also free for the whole region. Efu Koka supported the establishment of a Pacific Island advisory council.

We might ask why local government should be involved with social well-being. It is a good question, and it needs to be answered. If Auckland City is to become a world-class city, then an improvement in social well-being outcomes is critical. Local government is already involved in, and can contribute significantly to, improved outcomes. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service submission described local authorities as “place-shapers and service enablers”, recognising that they have a range of opportunities to enhance, or impede, social well-being.

I have recently had the privilege of meeting with a gentleman called Governor Bo Könberg, a former Minister of Health and Social Insurance in Sweden. I met with him recently in Sweden, because I wanted to look at the issue of pensions and how Sweden addresses the problem. That gentleman was a leading reformer in the mid-1990s, and I was amazed to learn the extent to which local issues in Sweden really are local, and that things are taken from central government and put into a social government area. I found that there was more decentralisation of authority from central government down to the local level. So I say to the National Government that it should not be myopic when it comes to the whole idea of social issues and social services, which can actually be provided by local government, because it can certainly do a very good job. I learnt, more than anything else, that the delivery of social services through small local councils increases the councils’ responsiveness to emerging issues. It means they are more effective and more efficient in dealing with those issues. It was an eye-opener just to see how much could be done at a local level by decentralising services down to the local level, so that local actually becomes local. The main thing is the responsiveness to emerging issues.

We find that many councils in other countries, like the Brisbane, Melbourne, Seattle, and London councils, are extensively involved in the delivery of social well-being programmes, whereas those programmes are strictly the responsibility of central government agencies in New Zealand—for example, immunisation, mental health services, and aged care. That is what I really found interesting when I was in Sweden having a special meeting with that social reformer. He told me just how much Sweden’s local government is involved in delivering those services. In New Zealand we are not doing that, and I tell the National Government not to be myopic in its view of these things. It should look at the delivery of social services and see what can be done. It should support the amendment that has been put forward by the honourable member Phil Twyford in the name of the Labour Party, because it is a way of doing things that we have not tried in this country. It is a way that we should consider and it is a way that we should look at. We should open our eyes and think outside the square. That is all I want to say on that issue.

I have one further point. I am concerned about senior citizens, especially with the cost of a super-city. I saw what happened to Auckland when the Hon John Banks, now Mayor of Auckland City, sold off the senior-citizen pensioner flats in Auckland. Who purchased them? They were purchased by the Labour Government because it was concerned.

HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau) : Tēnā koe, Mr Chairman. Tēnā tātou katoa e te Whare. This is one of my last chances to speak on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, and I say thank you very much for all the support for the Māori seats from the Labour Party members and the Green Party members as well. It has been consistent and strong, and it has been that way right through this whole debate. In fact, I thank everybody for carrying that issue, because it is something that means a lot to us in the Māori Party.

I am surprised that I am disappointed by what National has done. I am surprised because I always expected National to do it anyway, and I really should not have been surprised by it. I am not disappointed in the actions that have been taken by Mr Rodney Hide, although I think his arguments lack logic, a sense of caring, and an understanding of the issues that are at play in respect of the Māori seats.

I am comfortable with taking away from the debate all of the assumed emotional issues, and keeping it on the principle of one person, one vote. I just make the point that if Māori seats were established in Auckland, those Māori seats would be voted for on exactly the same basis as a ward seat in Papakura, Rodney, or anywhere else, in that only the people eligible to vote for that particular seat would be able to vote for it, and, having voted once, they would not have an opportunity to vote for anybody else. Clearly the argument that has been put up about it being a case of one man, one vote is a spurious argument. I made the point last night, although in a much more jocular manner, that the fact that Rodney Hide got into this House with five members in his party, when in fact his party received 10,000 fewer votes than another party that did not get anybody in, suggests that the principle of one man, one vote does not apply to this place, particularly in respect of list seats.

David Garrett: Check the Electoral Act.

HONE HARAWIRA: Yes, I can check the Electoral Act, but it makes the point very clearly that the MMP system that we have is not about one man, one vote but about the opportunity to enable as many different sectors of our society to be represented in this House. If that is the case Mr Garrett is putting up, then that is exactly the same argument we are putting forward for why there should be Māori seats in Auckland. They operate effectively in this House now.

I am comfortable with the view that, as members of the Māori Party, we are free to speak openly and honestly on every issue that comes before this House, even the ones that we know we will vote for but do not like. We are free to do that. I think that Auckland will miss the opportunity for that kind of contribution and that kind of debate, and the whole country will be weaker by it.

Auckland is the jewel in the crown of the South Pacific. It is the greatest Polynesian city in the whole world. It certainly has the greatest Māori population in the world. I take on board the comments from some of the Labour members that at some time in the future we need to have seats that recognise our Pacific heritage. I am entirely comfortable with that view, and I think that in a mature, growing, and positive society we will get there.

But, first of all, we start with tangata whenua. That is the reason why the Māori Party supports having mana whenua seats on the council. It is not about having only one particular tribe being able to pick. That was what was originally asked for, but we were keen to see it broadened, and in fact they were comfortable with broadening the debate so that probably even Shane Jones, me, Tau Henare, Denise Henare, and a whole lot of other people could have comfortably stood in those seats under either Ngāti Whātua or Tainui. Tēnā koe, Mr Chairman. Tēnā tātou katoa.

Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) : Kia ora anō tātou. I understand that Mr Hone Harawira is preparing to go overseas, so I say Godspeed. Over the last 25 years we have sought to embed a tradition of biculturalism. Those of us who took up placards, worked with lawyers, or lobbied politicians wanted to embody in a political, economic, social, and cultural form the symbol of the Māori chief and the representative of the Crown. We accept that society is organic. The shape, colour—

Paul Quinn: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Earlier this evening it was raised by members opposite that members were not speaking to the bill that was before the Committee. The speaker has so far—

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): No, please sit down. The member is just starting his speech, and I am happy to accept his introductory remarks.

Hon SHANE JONES: For the clarification of the Committee and Mr Quinn, the word “nadir” is not pronounced as “Narnia”. That is a fantasy land where animals speak. Secondly, Mr Quinn ought to consult Miss Piggy, who says “Never eat more than you can lift.”

Let us come back to what Mr Harawira was rightfully referring to. This city will be very cosmopolitan and very multicultural, but the tangata whenua and Māori in general—because it will be a new model for one-third of the economy and the population—wanted the model to carry forward the legacy of indigeneity. That is what National has refuted. We accept that the minority parties have to choose what options are available and grab what they think is the best entry point at a given point in time so that they can expand their influence. There will be a long-term impact of wiping away that bicultural tradition, not to replace it with multiculturalism but to embed a system that undoubtedly will entrench the vested interests in Auckland that are more interested in old school ties, property values, and corporate power. Those interests will overlook the fact that the growing proportion of the population is brown, and that the vividness and creativity is coming from the same sector of Auckland’s population that, perish the thought, the member who is also an Auckland City councillor belongs to, as well as the tangata whenua. That is not to deprecate our Pākehā contribution, but this really will be the social and, almost, existential cost that the ignorance of members opposite will bring forward to the rest of us.

There are other areas that we ought to focus on, and I will turn my attention to the importance of a performance auditor as reflected in the royal commission’s report. One of the things that the super-city will end up doing is to empower the bureaucracy. We will have all these smallish satellite communities. They will be too numerous, and although they might give the impression that there will be proximity between voter and organisation, because they will lack viability and critical mass they will be understaffed. Once they are understaffed the people who are on those organisations will end up surrendering power to the bureaucracy. In addition, because there will be a limited number of elected representatives, not the full complement that we were after, enriched by a tangata whenua Māori presence, the bureaucracy in the subsidiary companies—both the water company and the core council—will have enormous power and influence. That is why a performance audit function was seen by the royal commission as an innovation whose time had arrived.

The sums of money and the goods and services produced by this mammoth organisation stagger and beggar belief. It is presumably going to have effective governance over a powerful water monopoly—and there are some good economic reasons why such a vertically integrated monopoly should exist—but no monopoly should exist without a regulatory watchdog. That regulatory watchdog was identified through the royal commission. It is absent within the machinery of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It may be picked up in the third bill, but it seems that the architects of this exercise are making it up as they go along. I think that for a party that preaches property rights and electoral democratic rights to be silent on the importance of regulators in the face of monopolies is very short-sighted. Kia ora tātou.

CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) : It must be Big Wednesday, because all the double-dippers are coming out on the National benches today. I was not going to speak on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. However, I felt compelled to do so after listening to the National members opposite speaking on the bill.

The bill has implications for the rest of the country. It has implications for the rest of the country, because we know that the National Government and the Minister of Local Government in particular see the Auckland super-city as the model for the rest of the country. They want to see this model rolled out around the rest of the country, and other New Zealanders will be concerned about that. We know that the Government has already started on that process. For example, I know that National Party people in the Hutt Valley are working to create a coalition to merge the Hutt Valley councils into a super-council, with the ultimate goal of creating a Wellington super-city. I know that people throughout the rest of the country who have been listening might be feeling a little bit over this Auckland super-city debate. They might be a little bit fed up with hearing about Auckland, but the bill has implications for the rest of the country, because it is not just about Auckland. It is about the whole country, and it is about a philosophical belief in the role of local government.

The belief of the ACT Party and the Minister of Local Government in particular is that local government should be constrained and should be as small as possible. That belief was outlined in a Cabinet paper released by the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, earlier in the year. Its agenda was to strip out all of the social services run by local government—services that our local people value so much. I know that in Auckland local people value the social services provided by their local government, and they do not want to see those services reduced, or slashed and burned on the great ACT Party bonfire, which is what this bill and the National Government are setting Auckland up for. The Government wants to strip away social services that the people of Auckland have come to rely on and value. The National Party—actually, it is more the ACT Party—does not believe that councils have a role in the provision of social services. Under the definition of essential council services, as defined by the Minister of Local Government, swimming pools are not included. Libraries are not in the definition. Recreational parks are not in there. If members asked most New Zealanders about the role of local government, those New Zealanders would say that those services are core local government services, but the ACT Party and the Minister of Local Government do not believe that councils should provide them.

No matter what John Key says when he talks about local government, he has no credibility, because the Minister of Local Government is Rodney Hide. This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. “Mr 3.6 percent” is defining the local government agenda of the National Government. He is defining it along a radical right-wing approach, which says that local government should be stripped back, and that a lot of the services provided by local government should be done away with.

Of course, we know that another core part of the ACT Party’s agenda is to get its hands on the assets of local government, and it is going to start with Auckland assets. I speak in favour of the amendment put forward by my colleague Phil Twyford to protect the assets of Aucklanders, because 85 percent of Aucklanders are opposed to selling their water-supply assets to private companies.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): There is far too much noise. I am having great difficulty hearing the speaker, and he has a loud voice. There are too many people standing in the aisles and talking. If members want to talk, they can go into the lobbies.

CHRIS HIPKINS: Eighty-two percent of Aucklanders are opposed to selling assets such as parks, libraries, and recreation and entertainment facilities, and 78 percent oppose the sale of transport assets, such as ports, the airport, and so forth, to private companies. So Aucklanders overwhelmingly oppose the sale of their local government assets. Why is the National-ACT Government so opposed to the amendment put forward by my colleague Phil Twyford, which would protect the assets of Auckland? This issue has implications for not just Auckland but the rest of New Zealand. We do not want the National-ACT Government getting its hands on our local government assets around the rest of the country.

SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) : One of the privileges and one of the surprising pleasures of being on the select committee dealing with Auckland governance has been meeting and getting to know some of the Opposition members. You know, I enjoyed getting to know Sue Bradford a little on the select committee. George Hawkins is a good and likable person. And Phil Twyford—

Hon Member: No!

SIMON BRIDGES: Yes, Phil Twyford, who strikes me as a good and earnest person, is the kind of person who probably worked for Oxfam or something like that in a previous life. He is a person who did good in a former life. Of course, he has had some extreme views. He advocated votes for children, which is a little bit strange and the kind of thing that I am sure Rajen Prasad would probably advocate as a measure to increase social inclusion. I did agree with something Phil Twyford said about Auckland very recently to the New Zealand Listener: “There was a feeling for quite a long time that the city wasn’t working properly, with traffic problems,”—

Hon Member: Not that old line.

SIMON BRIDGES: Well, it is a real goody. The quote continues: “crappy infrastructure, and a downtown that looks like a bomb site. There was a lot of grumpiness about that. I think our Government was very late in coming to the party and doing something about it.” It is hard to disagree with that. Of course, the previous Government called for a royal commission on Auckland governance. It copped out and put the issue to the royal commission. That was something, at least, and I do not want to play politics on that. The previous Government did do something; it called for a royal commission. But Mr Twyford is certainly right that the Labour administration was very late in coming to the party on this issue, which has been festering for a very, very long time.

We see the Labour Party’s approach to the issue in its minority report. I have no doubt that Phil wrote it. Did you write it, Phil? [Interruption] I am sorry, I meant Phil Twyford; we should use members’ full names in the Chamber. I have no doubt he wrote the New Zealand Labour Party minority report. In that minority report he basically talks about—on my reading of it—process concerns. We heard the Hon Darren Hughes talk about process concerns, while waving his hands about, because we do not have a written constitution in New Zealand and because this debate is all taking place under urgency. I will tell members what I think about process concerns. I think it means, actually, a Labour Party that cannot find too much wrong with this bill. Labour members come down, in the end, on process concerns. The report states: “The legislative process has been similarly rushed, disjunctive”—I think “disjunctive” is a word a little like “nadir”, one I am not too aware of; perhaps “disjointed” is what Phil Twyford meant—“and inadequate.” He goes on to say: “The Auckland public are entitled to a say on these critical reforms. … the brief policy development period and legislative process have not been conducive to getting this bill right.” The problem with that, I say to Phil Twyford and to Labour Party members, is that the public are not just entitled to a say on these critical reforms; over a full month, sitting from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, they got their say.

Phil Twyford: You had nothing to say.

SIMON BRIDGES: I will tell that member why I did not say anything. I was listening to the people of Auckland. We heard from them all. Out on the marae we saw people dancing and heard them singing. We heard from Phil’s good friend Penny Bright, and from the not so bright. We listened and we heard them. As I have said before, and it is basic but very, very true, we not only listened but acted.

LYNNE PILLAY (Labour) : All we hear from the other side is members contradicting each other. Nikki Kaye goes on and on and says how much Labour members bleat, moan, whine, and criticise everything about the bill. Now we have heard the previous speaker, Simon Bridges, saying that he does not think we see anything wrong with the bill. The reality is that there is plenty wrong with the bill. The Government is just not listening. It is not listening to members on this side of the Chamber, to Aucklanders, or, in fact, to all New Zealanders. Many New Zealanders are very opposed to the bill.

I pay tribute to the excellent contributions made by two of the younger members of our caucus. They are two lovely young blokes who gave very, very compelling presentations. They were very logical presentations.

Hon Members: Who are they?

LYNNE PILLAY: Members know very well who they are. I will talk very briefly just to endorse again that it is absolutely reprehensible for the Government to support its position of not implementing a social issues board. We know that we need glue to hold together the huge city of Auckland. Does the member care about Pacific people, about ethnic people, about young people, and about all those people having a voice and being represented in our city on issues like housing that are absolutely fundamental? We see the Mayor of Auckland flogging off State houses. There is no commitment from him whatsoever. Without having a social issues board, places like Waitakere and South Auckland cannot make that commitment. Without the social issues board, how will those things be protected and saved?

I compliment Phil Twyford. I think he has done a fantastic job, along with all members on this side of the Chamber and indeed many other parties. We were absolutely disappointed that his bill about the protection of Auckland assets was defeated. I am pleased that we have the opportunity for yet another chance to run the debate. We know that the position regarding water supply is supported by 82 percent of Aucklanders. Eighty-two percent support the position regarding assets such as parks, libraries, recreation areas, and entertainment facilities, and 78 percent oppose the position on transport assets, such as selling the port and the airport to private companies.

I heard Nikki Kaye say that that is absolute rubbish. She is very busy at the moment, probably trying to justify her position on the Māori seats; I do not think she will have much luck. [Interruption] That is right; that is what she will be saying. I heard Nikki Kaye say in the Chamber that the current legislation is fine and that Auckland assets are safe. We know that that is absolute rubbish. We know that the Minister of Local Government is a great big fan of privatisation. He is on record as saying it. He is the hit guy; he is the Minister of Local Government. The Government does not have to get its hands dirty with private asset sales, despite all the things that the Government fundamentally totally supports, totally believes in, are totally its mantra, and is on record as saying about private asset sales. The Government can make statements that it has an arrangement. Never mind arrangements when it comes to working with the Māori Party and supporting Māori seats. What happens when it comes to dealing with and not making a commitment about the retention of the assets in our city, which are absolutely primo to all Aucklanders, whether they are from South Auckland, west Auckland, or the North Shore? Those assets are absolute objects of pride for our city. What every Aucklander and every New Zealander accepts is so important, this Government will not accept. Why? Because the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, does not support it. He is on record as saying in August: “I personally favour privatisation.”

Hon JOHN CARTER (Associate Minister of Local Government) : This issue needs to have a little time spent on it. As I have said earlier in previous contributions I have made, the lack of structure that has come from Opposition members in regard to issues in this debate has been disappointing. I would much rather have seen them set out a plan, and maybe an alternative to what the Government is doing. But unfortunately they have not done that, mainly on the basis that quite often they actually agree with a fair chunk of what the Government is doing. They then come to issues like assets, and of course they think it is an issue on which they might be able to score an easy point. But let me just make this clear. The first thing people need to understand is that the assets of Auckland belong to the territorial and regional authorities. They are not the Government’s assets. They are not for the Government to sell. We have no authority over them. We have no ownership of them. We have no direction or control of them. That is the first point that is really important for people to understand in this debate.

The second point is that there is a process if local authorities wish to dispose of an asset. It is called a long-term council community plan. As Opposition members know, and as Government members know, it is a tedious process that just about wears one down. By the time we get through it, the asset would have probably lost any value it had originally, anyway. If, for example, as the Mayor of Rodney recently suggested, she suddenly decided that the Rodney district had to divest itself of a whole lot of assets to get rid of debt, she would have to put that out before the public, and talk to them about it and tell them why they might want to sell the assets. Finally, it is the public that makes the decision. Nothing will change in regard to the way in which the unitary authority in Auckland operates. If there is an asset that the council wishes to divest itself of, it will have to go through the long-term council community plan, and explain to the public what the benefits of selling the asset will be to the people of Auckland. If the people of Auckland finally say: “No, we’re not interested.”, then I am afraid that is how it will be. That is what the current Act states. There is already that protection.

The third point that is important for us to understand in anything we are doing in Auckland, or indeed in local government generally, is that this Parliament has to take great care that anything we do does not interfere with the rights and the local democracy of the local people in local government right across the country. Every time we make a decision that affects local government, we are in some way impinging on the rights of the local people to make decisions for themselves. That is something we should seriously take great pains not to upset, if we can. There are occasions when this Parliament does make decisions, because it has the right to. But in the main, and particularly around issues like assets, it is not for us to interfere. If we start making decisions like that, then ultimately we start making decisions on all sorts of things, such as how councils run their libraries, how they run their swimming pools, and how they run everything. In the end we would not need local government, because we would just run it all from central government.

It is certainly not the intention of this Government to do that. It may be that the Opposition wants to.

The thing to remember about Phil Twyford’s member’s bill, the Local Government (Protection of Auckland Assets) Amendment Bill, is that it was just a continuation of the nanny State that Labour used to have. [Interruption] I know that Labour members do not like it, but I make the point that we have to be awfully careful that anything we do does not impinge on the rights and the abilities of local communities to make their decisions for themselves in their best interests.

That is one of the things that this bill sets out to do. It will allow Aucklanders to make the decisions that matter to them on a regional basis, and it will give them the opportunity to look after and to command the things that matter to them locally. We should never get away from that principle. We must remember that it is the right of the public of New Zealand to make decisions for themselves when it comes to local government. We should ensure at all times that we defend that, to allow them to achieve it.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) : I will speak tonight about how I used to be in favour of privatisation. I have seen the light. I no longer believe in privatisation. That is very important. I used to be a good friend of Richard Prebble. He would sell anything, and I thought that was the way to go. Sell anything!

Hon Member: He did!

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: He did. When I was Mayor of Papakura I sold him Papakura’s airport shares so the Government would have the bulk. That was a silly mistake, because I did not know the National Government would take those shares and sell them.

I think John Carter is right. It is not the Government that we need to worry about as far as Auckland’s assets go; it is people like John Banks, a well-known privatiser who sold off pensioner flats and houses. Of course, I then saw that things were not good. When one beats out old people, one knows that privatisation is not the way to go. It is hard for an MP to come down to the Chamber and admit he or she was wrong. But I am quite happy to do it, because I think it is very important. When there is $28 billion worth of assets, the temptation is very great.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Just say you are sorry.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I will say I am sorry. I apologise, but I must say that that member, who is chatting across the Chamber, ran the Mt Albert by-election campaign for the National Party. I reckon he would have gone to its caucus—he would have crawled in on his hands and knees—and said sorry. But I do not want to be distracted.

When there are $28 billion worth of assets, the temptation is very great. You see, Auckland has a big problem with leaky houses; a lot of money needs to be spent. So National will look around and think about what it can put its sticky paws on. I do not think it will sell libraries; I do not think it will sell swimming pools. I think it is more original than that. It will look at the various assets it has, and it will very quickly get excuses to sell them.

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: Like what?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Well, it will try to sell all sorts of things. It might even try to sell the water system; I do not know. I have a bit of difficulty because I am not as devious as the Nats. I am not as devious, so I do not know. The Nats are devious enough; they will work it out.

It is also interesting that only two or three members of the executive have talked in this debate. I think Jonathan Coleman might have had something to say. What does Pansy Wong say? She knows all about privatisation, and I think she knows the value of a dollar. She will try to turn $1 into $2, but the people of Auckland will end up with nothing—absolutely nothing. You see, when there is so much infrastructure, various councils will be doing a bit of stocktaking now. John Banks will be looking to see how he can get the money to pay for things, because he will be scared that if rates go up, National will be out. That is what will happen to the National Government. When rates go up, that is suicide, so they will sell the family silver. It has happened before. It happened way back in 1987-89. The family silver gets sold. I reflect on that. I was not here then. I thought it was a good idea, but how wrong can one be? One has to be fairly humble to get up in this place and apologise to people.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): Before I call Paul Quinn, I comment to members that prior to coming here I was contacted by an avid listener to the debate. It might surprise members, but there are avid listeners out there. The listeners are concerned that they were struggling to hear what the speakers were saying because of the noise in the Chamber. I am not saying that people should not interject, but if a member is speaking, as the member was before, and those surrounding him or her are all shouting and bellowing, then they will drown out the person speaking. It is Mr Quinn’s call. He has a strong voice and there are not a lot of people around him, but I ask members to just be considerate.

PAUL QUINN (National) : I look forward to taking this call in respectful silence. What we have just heard from the honourable member George Hawkins—and he is an honourable member—encapsulates how low the Opposition has taken this debate. He carried on with rhetoric and sensationalism, and he talked about assets being sold, but when challenged he said he did not know which assets. By his own admission swimming pools will not be sold, and I forget the other thing he admitted will not be sold, but when challenged to say what will be sold, he said he did not know. What he did not say, but what he meant, is “It doesn’t matter. Don’t spoil my story!”. That is how low the debate has gone.

An earlier speaker, my friend and colleague from the Hutt Valley Mr Chris Hipkins, got up and his contribution to the debate was to say that the bill is a Trojan horse for unitary authorities across the country. [Interruption] Respectful interjections, please, I say to Mr Hipkins; he should bear in mind that people are listening to me. He said the bill is a Trojan horse. Again, there was no contribution to the debate. He knows that his speech was absolute sensationalism. He had no grounds for claiming that. We went through this in the first reading, when he made that claim. He scaremongered amongst the people of Upper Hutt, but it was irrelevant. He was slapped around the ears and told to stop scaremongering, because he had no basis for it. In fact, there is no intention to do it. Again, it was irrelevant.

My friend and colleague Phil Twyford’s contribution to the debate so far this evening was to say we should increase the bureaucracy—spend more money. On the one hand we have the Hon George Hawkins talking about cost, and on the other hand we have his colleague and friend Phil Twyford, who is not so honourable at this stage, talking about—

Carmel Sepuloni: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I am a new member, but I think there is a Standing Order that says one cannot challenge the honour of another member. I think the member Paul Quinn over there just did that.

Hon members: Oh!

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): Excuse me, I am about to rule. Let us have some quiet, please. I say to the member Carmel Sepuloni that she might be new but this is a robust Chamber and people can make robust comments. Paul Quinn said something about honour, but I did not think it crossed the line particularly. I cannot quite remember the phrase—

Hon members: The less honourable.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Rick Barker): The less honourable or less than honourable. I did not think that was particularly offensive. I do not think Phil Twyford is wincing with the pain of it, either.

PAUL QUINN: I do have a failing. An earlier speaker, Shane Jones, pulled me up for mispronouncing “nadir”, so I have some human failings. In this particular case I meant to say that Mr Phil Twyford had not yet attained the honour of “Honourable”—that is what I meant to say.

Phil Twyford: Oh, yet? Yet.

PAUL QUINN: Not yet. The point is that on the one hand the man who does have the title “Honourable”, the Hon George Hawkins, says that the process is going to be expensive and is going to blow more money, yet on the other hand Phil Twyford, who does not yet have the title “Honourable”, wants more red tape, more bureaucracy—

David Bennett: A true Labourite!

PAUL QUINN: Exactly, the nanny State! He slapped down an amendment with all the drama of Shakespearian behaviour and said again that nanny State phrase: we know best. Labour members talk about protecting assets. I tell them to let the people choose. Let the people choose. The people of Auckland will decide. They will elect people in their ward who will deliver to them what they want. But, no, the Opposition wants the nanny State to continue. I implore Opposition members that if they cannot contribute positively to the debate, then let us forget about it and call it quits, because we are going round in circles.

CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour) : A few things have been said since I last took a call, so I would like to go back to them. Whilst my colleague Lynne Pillay was speaking, the member for Maungakiekie talked about State housing and said Lynne Pillay needed to go with him to visit State housing. I want to point out a very clear point of difference. The point of difference is that, unlike the member for Maungakiekie, we would not put a billboard outside a State house and then agree with a policy that would sell State housing and leave those people out on the road, forced to pay market rentals when they cannot afford them. So that is the point of difference.

I am thinking that perhaps we have given the National Government far too much credit. We have put the blame almost entirely on Rodney Hide. We keep saying that it is a case of the tail wagging the dog, but I think we have a very clear example here of the strategy of good cop, bad cop. I think we need to hold the Government to account on this. It is not a case of good cop, bad cop—the bad cop being Mr Rodney Hide and the good cop being Mr John Carter and Mr John Key—it is actually a classic example of bad cop, bad cop. There is no good cop in that game; I am sorry about that. I hope I have made that point very clear.

I return to the issue of privatising assets. This is an example of Rodney Hide being put out there as if he is the one who wants to privatise assets. There is also the issue of Māori representation. Rodney Hide has been put out there as if he is the one denying Māori representation. Let us think about this. Let us all be very clear in this Chamber about who the leader of the Government is. Is it Rodney Hide? No, it is John Key. He is responsible for this. Let us make that fact very clear.

Sandra Goudie: Good girl! She wins the prize.

CARMEL SEPULONI: I thank Sandra Goudie for that. That interjection was as intelligent as she usually is. Let us talk about the privatisation of assets, which we talked about earlier. The Government says that it is not its responsibility. Mr John Carter says the Government has no responsibility for the privatisation of assets. We are looking at $28 billion worth of assets in Auckland, and the Government says it is not responsible for them. It is very clear that a right-wing agenda will be driving the sale of these assets, and the Government hopes that that right-wing agenda will be driven by its candidate for mayor, Mr John Banks, the former National MP. So Government members need to take ownership of the fact that it is not just Mr Banks’ agenda and it is not just Mr Rodney Hide’s agenda; it is actually the National Government’s agenda to privatise assets.

What effect will this have on people in Auckland? It will have a huge effect. National members’ interests are all in business. They are not interested in the everyday New Zealander out there using the parks and the libraries, and getting free access to swimming pools because the Manukau City Council makes good revenue from not having sold its public assets. Those are not the things that the National Government is interested in. National members are not worried about kids from low socio-economic areas who do not necessarily have $1, $2, or $3 to throw towards going for a swim. They are not worried about those kids. They are quite happy with a one-size-fits-all approach. National members think that whatever people in Remuera pay is what people in Ōtara should pay, as well. The privatisation of assets is on the National Government’s agenda. It has a one-size-fits-all approach for the whole of Auckland. Whatever is happening in Remuera can happen in Ōtara, Māngere, and Waitakere. That is what National wants.

I go back to what I was saying about Mr Rodney Hide and the fact that he has been used as a scapegoat in regard to the denial of Māori representation in Auckland. It has been very clear that the National Government is not supportive of Māori, Pacific people, and other ethnic communities. I quote a former National MP whose name is Arthur Anae. Last year a Victoria University student did a master’s thesis on minority representation in Parliament, and Arthur Anae was quoted as saying that he learnt the hard way that all the National Government cared about was minority groups with deep pockets. He learnt the hard way that National does not care about Pacific communities or Māori communities. Arthur Anae knew—and he acknowledged it when he was interviewed for the thesis—that he had made a mistake.

Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : We have now been debating the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill for 13½ hours, and in that time we have heard from members on the other side of the Chamber nothing but inane calls. There has hardly been a contribution of note. We should reflect that members opposite have had two salespeople spinning the same lines over and over again. It is noticeable that the tones of the Minister in the chair, John Carter, are now becoming a bit more dulcet. He is speaking very slowly, and he tells us he is the good guy; Nikki Kaye has repeated the same speech three or four times. For several hours members opposite said nothing. For several hours they took no calls. They sat there like stunned mullets. Then they came back—[Interruption] The member should take a call, then we will know how the member feels about what we are saying. Then Government members started a series of inane calls. What did they say?

Sandra Goudie: What did he have?

Dr RAJEN PRASAD: If the member listens I will soon tell her exactly what they have been saying. Mr Quinn, who was one of the last two speakers, took another unmemorable call. Let us put his speech aside. He will go and reread the definition of “social well-being” and I will quiz him again next time we are in the Chamber.

A few minutes ago Mr Simon Bridges dared us to name the six things we have been asking for that came out in the consultation that have not been done. Well, here are at least six things. Time and time again submitters to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee asked for Māori seats. Members opposite have not listened; they are not here. There have been some inane conversations about one person, one vote, but nothing has happened. That is one of the things we asked for. Then there are the advisory boards. Time and time again submitters asked for advisory boards. I notice the Minister for Ethnic Affairs has still not taken a call to answer the challenge: what is her position in terms of the ethnic communities that want to be represented, that want to be on advisory boards? Pansy Wong has not taken a call to explain what her position is and neither has Mr Bakshi. He read his papers and took a break. Nothing else happened.

The third issue is the social issues board. That has been asked for; it was there in the submissions. But what have the members opposite done about it? They have done nothing. People asked for the guaranteed protection of our assets, and we have been talking about them, but we hear nothing from the other side of the Chamber on the guaranteed protection of our assets, which was the fourth thing. The fifth thing is to get the process right. Here are major constitutional issues, yet the members opposite have done nothing about the process issue. The members say they have listened, but the evidence is that the members have not listened. The select committee has brought back a report, and we have told members opposite time and time again the issues we take with it. Members from this side have led a very disciplined attack on this particular bill. Every member who got up talked about at least one issue that people outside have told us is important. The sixth thing is about powers of the board.

Any number of factors were raised by submitters throughout the weeks and months the select committee was out there. The members opposite say they have listened, but they have not listened. We do not see the results of them having listened here in the document before us. If National members had listened, we would not be arguing so vehemently against many of the proposals that have come back. We support the notion of fixing up the issues that come up in Auckland. But we will not compromise the interest of the people of Auckland, at all. We will not simply accept the ideas that they have brought back—we will not at any cost.

Any number of things need to be fixed in this particular bill, but they have not been. We hear now the way in which this bill is being characterised in emails to us today: “Rodney Hide’s super city time bomb set to explode grassroots democracy in New Zealand’s largest city started ticking today,”. If it is a time bomb, it will not be long before it actually comes to fruition. The promises that were given have not been delivered on.

Hon JOHN CARTER (Associate Minister of Local Government) : I have listened to a couple of contributions, and thought I should make a response to one or two. I listened closely to George Hawkins, who has made quite an input into the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, as have others on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, such as Phil Twyford and Su’a William Sio particularly. I listened to the last contribution from Dr Rajen Prasad, and to the six items that the member brought up. I thought I should respond to them.

Of the six items, the last one was the matter of the powers of the boards. Indeed, there is no debate about the powers of the boards. The Opposition has agreed with what the Government has done in regard to the powers of the boards. It is there in the commentary on the bill, if the member wants to read it. So we can cross that off the list, because the Opposition agrees with the Government on that. It may not agree with the number of members on boards, but it certainly does agree with the powers of the boards, and the members of the select committee will nod in agreement on that.

Then the member went from the sixth item. He left out the fifth item, so I am not sure what that was. The fourth issue that he raised was the matter of assets. Much has been made of this matter, and the figure $28 billion is quoted a lot. I think it is really important to start off by saying people should be concerned about assets, because there would be a huge negative impact if these assets were to be sold. One of the things we asked George Hawkins was about what the $28 billion worth of assets were—how that was made up. He could not tell us that. Most members would be interested to know that the roads are nearly all of that $28 billion—the roads are nearly all of the $28 billion. So, of course, it would be of great concern if the transport authorities started to sell them. Members can imagine the situation, can they not? We can imagine rolling up the tarseal to sell it—where? To the Arabs, to India, or maybe to South Africa? I do not know where it would be sold to. But it is actually the roads that would be sold if the majority of assets were sold off. So it is a falsehood to say $28 billion worth of assets are for sale. There is nothing like that.

The other thing that should be taken into account is that a lot of those assets are the likes of the libraries, the halls, the parks, and the regional parks. There is no way that those will be sold. So it is silly to talk about $28 billion worth of assets.

But I also say—I said it before, and I say it again—the local authorities have to go through quite a lengthy process, so the assets are secure.

Item No. 3 that was raised was the social issues board. We have already responded to the people of Auckland on that by saying there will be, and is, a social forum, which Paula Bennett is leading with people from Auckland. That has been accepted and is already starting to work. We are getting some response to it, and we will continue to develop it. So we can cross that item off the list.

The member also talked about advisory boards. We have said that this matter is a work in progress. We have commented about it in the commentary on the bill, in the same way that the Labour Opposition has, as well. It is part of the work that we may well be doing as we move forward in the third bill. The advisory boards could well be part of that. We still have to work that issue up—maybe, maybe not—but it will be an ongoing issue to be addressed as we move forward.

Finally, I say, because I know there is concern about this, there has been a great lot of debate around the Māori seats. I remind the Committee that the Māori seats were not in the bill that came to the select committee. They were not part of the bill that the select committee looked at, as members will recall. I am sure the member does recall that; he was on the select committee. The Government had already made the decision not to have Māori seats prior to that, so the select committee was not able to respond to that issue in the way that it wanted.

I find it interesting that the member has listed—well, I have only five things; he did say six, so I am not sure what the fifth thing was between the assets and the powers of the boards.

Dr Rajen Prasad: I said the process was wrong.

Hon JOHN CARTER: Well, I am afraid he did not enunciate that, so I could not write it down. The fact is, nevertheless, that we can go through that list and write all the items off. The Government has already covered those things. Indeed, there is another longer list of the things Labour does agree on, which it cannot debate because it agrees with the Government. That has been part of the problem. We have listened to the public and done many of the things that they wanted. We have responded to the public in a positive way. Labour has not been able to debate those matters, and that is why Labour’s debate has been so poor.

MOANA MACKEY (Labour) : I am happy to stand to take another call on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. Was it not interesting that the Minister who chaired the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee, John Carter, just told us that Māori seats were off the table before the bill even went to the select committee. I seem to recall the Prime Minister saying in response to the 7,000-strong hīkoi that marched in support of the Māori seats that the Government was listening. He said that the issue would be discussed at the select committee, that everything was open, that the select committee was the appropriate place to have that debate, and that the Government would not step on that process.

I ask the Minister in the chair, John Carter, which statement was true: his account of events, which was that Māori seats were never on the table, because the select committee did not even have the jurisdiction or the mandate to discuss them, or the Prime Minister’s account of events that the reason he was not going to make any commitment after the hīkoi in Auckland was that Māori seats were on the table at the select committee. Here, once again, we have doublespeak from National on the issue of Māori seats.

Chris Hipkins: That’s not unusual.

MOANA MACKEY: It is not unusual. Perhaps we should not be surprised, given that the Hon Dr Nick Smith stood in the Chamber when debating the previous Labour Government’s Local Government Bill and said that having separate seats for Māori was “apartheid”. He said that Labour was introducing apartheid into New Zealand. Maybe we should not be surprised. I think the Minister in the chair needs to explain why his account of events does not match the Prime Minister’s. Were Māori seats on the table to be considered at the select committee or not? He said they were not; the Prime Minister said they were.

I also want to discuss the issue of the assets in Auckland. The Minister in the chair needs to be aware of the fact that there is not a lot of trust from the public on the issue of assets when it comes to National. That is right, and there is even less trust when we consider who is the Minister of Local Government. So although John Carter may throw his hands in the air and ask people to trust him because it is fine, parks and swimming pools will not be sold off, and that we do not need to worry, the fact is that the Government would sell parks and it would sell swimming pools. It has sold assets before, and it has made it clear that it supports the sale of assets. In 1999 Tony Ryall said that National did not support having State houses, and it had a policy of selling them off. So before the Associate Minister gets too precious about it he needs to appreciate that the people of Auckland probably want a little bit more certainty about the protection of their assets than that given in the bill.

That certainty could be given by the amendment in the name of my colleague Phil Twyford and by his member’s bill, which has been pulled from the ballot. If there is no threat to the assets of Auckland, then what is the harm of adding a new clause to the bill that makes the situation clear and gives the people of Auckland that certainty? Maybe the Minister in the chair, John Carter, might want to answer the question of whether social housing is a core activity of local government.

Hon John Carter: It’s up to the people to decide.

MOANA MACKEY: He needs to provide some clarity around the issue. We have already had one council in New Zealand selling its social housing because it said that the Government had sent very strong messages that social housing is not a core activity of local government and that councils need to exit it. I wrote to the Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley, and the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide. I asked Phil Heatley whether he would clarify the Government’s position on the issue because the Whakatāne District Council seemed to be under the impression that the Minister had told it that it needed to exit from social housing. He refused to answer the question. I said to him in the letter that he did not need to say it was a core activity and that all I was asking was that he clarify that he did not say it was not a core activity. That would have left a lot of wiggle room—and we know that National Ministers like wiggle room so that they do not get into trouble down the track, especially the Minister in the chair, but we are not going to go down that path.

The Minister of Housing refused to clarify whether he thought the largest third sector housing group in New Zealand, local government, should be involved in social housing. The Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, said exactly the same thing, but I guess we should not be surprised about that. The fact is that the Government needs to come clean on its priorities for local government and its expectations, because it is ramming through these bills under urgency, and it is not providing any protections for the people of Auckland, in terms of their assets. The Government is saying: “Trust us; we know what we’re doing. You don’t need to worry.” The people of Auckland are not so stupid.

Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour) : I wish to address some of the comments that the Minister in the chair, John Carter, raised earlier this evening, when he talked about the fact that the assets we were talking about in respect of my colleague Phil Twyford’s Supplementary Order Paper were not the Government’s property, were not owned by the Government, and therefore could not be sold by the Government. I wish to advise that Minister that nobody will settle for that as an answer. There is a huge naivety about that statement, which Aucklanders are past. Aucklanders are perfectly aware that even if the technicalities are that the Government does not own an asset, it is perfectly possible through this legislation for the Government to grease the wheels, if not the palms, of commerce so that it can take advantage of the fact that there are no democratic prohibitions on the sale of assets. There would be democratic prohibitions on the sale of local assets if my colleague Phil Twyford’s Supplementary Order Paper were to be passed; there would be a referendum mechanism before the sale or privatisation of any asset.

A number of speakers on this side of the Chamber have drawn to the attention of members the kinds of assets that are at risk. They range across all of the things that we are familiar with and that we treasure in our local communities: public facilities like libraries, pools, reserves, and parks. Those things ought to be protected, and here is a moment, again, that shows that if this Government is to be known for anything, it will be known as the Government of lost opportunity. Here is an opportunity to protect these assets, and to put a democratic prohibition on the sale of these assets, or a democratic vehicle in the way of their sale, by local government and local authorities—in this case, the Auckland super-city governance structure. It is not good enough simply to say the Government cannot sell these assets. It is important that the Government expresses an appreciation of the importance of these assets to communities right across the Auckland area and does something that allows for a degree of protection for them in this legislation, so the people of Auckland can feel some comfort.

Given the opposition of Aucklanders to the sale of their assets, flannelling the country by saying that the Government cannot sell the assets anyway is not sufficient. Aucklanders have expressed overwhelmingly their opposition to the sale of assets. Clearly 85 percent of Aucklanders oppose selling water supply assets; 82 percent oppose selling assets such as parks, libraries, and recreation or entertainment centres; and 78 percent oppose the sale of transport assets, such as the port and airport, to private companies. On the basis of that kind of democratic representation, why would the Government not simply put in place one safeguard, one democratic check of a referendum, which would prevent the local authority that is emerging out of this legislation from putting assets of importance on the block and up for sale?

This is another lost opportunity, but, more than that, it is a sneaky way of ensuring National’s agenda is put in place. Although it may not be the case in this term, let us make no mistake that if National is ever given a second term in office, its agenda will be to privatise as much as it possibly can. There is an agenda to do that and Rodney Hide happens to be the guide.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua) : I want to focus on an area where there has not been much focus at all and that is the Local Government Commission powers. Once this bill is enacted, the functions and powers of the Local Government Commission will become increasingly important and increasingly relevant to everyone in this Chamber, let alone to everyone in the new Auckland unitary authority. The commentary on the bill noted that “The bill would empower the commission to undertake consultation before determining the city’s boundaries, but does not specify a process or require any particular person to be consulted.”; nor are there specific resources, as I understand it. I make a plea, and would urge, that the Local Government Commission have adequate resources and adequate powers to be able to consult fully, because its function of sorting out not only the northern and southern boundaries but the wards and the boards is going to be extremely important and probably extremely contentious.

I note that the majority report considers that the southern boundary of the city should remain as it is in the bill. The commentary went on to state: “The majority of us … believe that there is no need to amend the provisions governing the partition of Franklin, though we urge the commission to consider carefully retaining all of Pukekohe and Waiuku as part of the Auckland region, rather than splitting them each in two.” Once again, I put on record that the Local Government Commission has that possibility and is able to do that freely and without difficulty.

But I would go further than that. I believe, undoubtedly, with the way that this bill has currently ended up in terms of the southern boundary, that catchment issues, Treaty issues, and development issues have overridden community interest issues to a certain extent. Therefore, I would very much urge the Local Government Commission to have flexibility in relation to the boundaries that are set out in this bill. There is the example of Buckland—200 metres from Pukekohe. I was there on Saturday afternoon, helping to open the bowling season for the Buckland Bowling Club. Mr Mark Gosche’s mum was there. She said to me that the people there want to be in Pukekohe, even though the Local Government Commission at present probably would not have that amount of flexibility. I think it is very important that the interpretation that it is able to exercise is fairly flexible. I want to put that on record so that when the commission goes about its very difficult task it is reminded that Parliament is basically in agreement with that, because the community of interest is very important wherever one is in the vast region of the new Auckland regional authority.

I will make some comments on Part 3, “Transitional arrangements”, and I do not think that anyone has talked about this before.

Hon Steve Chadwick: I did.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Well, that is excellent. The member realised just how important this issue is.

SU’A WILLIAM SIO (Labour—Māngere) : I feel sorry for the member who just spoke, Dr Paul Hutchison, because he is advocating quite strongly to change the southern boundaries of Auckland, but the National Government—his Government—is not listening to him. I really feel sorry for him.

There is no dispute that Labour supports the reformation of the Auckland governance structure. We have been upfront with that. We stated that right from the beginning. However, we say to the Government—and I hope it is listening—that the process has been flawed. It has been a sham in many respects, because the Government kept announcing decisions before the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee had even completed its work. The structure it has set up is undemocratic. It is a flawed governance structure for the biggest region in our nation. It would not be so bad if the Government was just tinkering around the edges of local government, but this is significant change. The Government will change the landscape, the shape, and the face of local government, and then, I suspect, it will roll it out.

The Minister in the chair, the Hon John Carter, made reference to the assets of local government and to the long-term council community plan. He said that each council would determine whether it sells its assets. That may be so, but every one of those assets is now currently being held in each of the local governments—in Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere, Franklin, Papakura, and Rodney. Those assets are held by a group of councillors representing their particular region. Each of those regions will base its decisions on a certain philosophy. In Manukau, for example, where 18 councillors represent eight wards, we have always traditionally had a philosophy of holding on to our assets. That is the reason why we currently have 10 percent of shareholdings in Auckland International Airport. From those shares we have been able to fund our free swimming pools and support the development of activities for our young people, our libraries, and our sports fields. That is now at risk. All those assets—not just those of Manukau but also those of Papakura, whose people told the select committee that they wanted to save Papakura—have been put at risk.

All of those local government authorities have been snuffed out by the first bill, the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill, which was rammed through under urgency, and all those assets are now lumped under one structure. The Government is also getting rid of all the mayors, councillors, and community boards that currently exist, and it is giving full power, authority, and privileges to only 20 councillors. Those 20 councillors are supposed to represent the 1.4 million people of the Auckland region. That is undemocratic. I strongly feel, and the public holds this view, that this is a set-up by this Government to make it easier to get rid of the $28 billion worth of public assets.

Members of the select committee, which sat in Manukau and throughout the region, would have heard the strong voice of the people of Manukau argue strongly that they do not want to sell the airport shares. Those airport shares were funded by ratepayers. The numerous land tracts that exist in Manukau are funded and maintained by ratepayers in Manukau. We have borrowed money and we have paid off those loans, and I ask what will happen to that asset. That is the fear. The current structure being put up by the Government does not propose to protect those assets whatsoever. That is the fear that exists out in the community. Nothing being put into the governance structure has any protection whatsoever. The result of this structure, which we oppose, is an unbalanced model.

ALLAN PEACHEY (National—Tāmaki) : I am very, very pleased, as an Auckland electorate member of Parliament, to take up the invitation of my honourable friend George Hawkins and make a contribution to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. The thing that has struck me about Mr Hawkins’ quite ingenuous and very humorous contributions is just how far out of touch he has become with his constituency. Let me tell members what the people of Tāmaki—my electorate—are saying on the streets. They are saying that they have one simple message for the Government on Auckland governance: keep it simple and, above all else, get it right. They will not hold us accountable on little points of ideology and little arguments of detail, but they expect us to get it right. We know from National’s record in Government that we will get it right.

When I pull together the bulk of the Labour members’ speeches during this long day, it seems that for hour after hour all Labour members wanted to do was to name members on this side of the Chamber and suggest that they will lose their seats. Well, I have bad news for the Labour Party. There are a lot of first-term members in this House for whom this will be their sole term, and they are all on the other side. They are all on the other side.

When I talk to the people of Tāmaki, I know that they are not really so interested in engaging on the detail of Auckland governance. On Monday they were far more interested in talking to me about Harley Davidsons. At the recent Labour Party conference they did not see a fresh-faced, energetic, enthusiastic young leader arriving to inspire a conference; they saw a slightly sad Midnight Cowboy - type figure disappearing into the sunset. He will take the Labour Party with him into the sunset, not to be heard of again, with the attitudes of that party towards the governance of Auckland. Aucklanders understand that we have to get the city right for the good of the city, for the good of the 1.4 million people who live there, and for the good of New Zealand. Out there on the streets of my constituency of Tāmaki there is very little patience for the Labour Party’s mucking around. People do not get it, and I suggest that at least one Labour member get on his or her feet and try to give a coherent, logical speech to help the people of Auckland to understand why the Labour Party has become irrelevant to their future.

Aucklanders like the idea of one mayor. There would be no more hiding behind other mayors or behind the regional council. There would be one mayor responsible and held accountable. They like the idea of 20 councillors. I am very disappointed in Mr Sio’s contribution. It showed just how out of touch he must be with his electorate. They like the idea of 20 councillors elected in wards with which they identify. Aucklanders see that as real, genuine democracy at work. They also like the 20 to 30 community boards. For the first time, they see some real grassroots democracy in their communities. That is why they find the Labour Party’s attitude so mystifying. There is something else Aucklanders like; they have come to respect, and have confidence in, the role of Mr John Carter.

DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert) : I will comment on the speech of previous speaker, Allan Peachey, because I do not think he has been listening to what the Labour Party’s policy has been. Labour’s policy all along has been to support having a unitary authority for Auckland, with one mayor and a form of local government that represents the communities of interest. What we also want, though, is for this new law to be a good law. We do not want a bill that is ad hoc and just brings up whatever issue is current at the moment. We have seen, for example, the notion of Māori seats demolished before the bill even got to Parliament. We have seen half of the district of Rodney taken out and then put back in again. This whole bill is a shambles. It is adhockery.

The number of community boards proposed by the royal commission was six. This Government talked about having 20 to 30. The Labour Party has been talking about having 14 to 20. The point is that the boards should reflect communities of interest, and the key issue here is how to determine those communities of interest. A lot of those communities of interest have been referred to the Local Government Commission for a decision on how that will happen.

We would like to think that the Local Government Commission is able to hear the public, and for that reason George Hawkins’ amendment is on the Table. The reason we are here today is to debate policy that will enable this bill to be much better. George Hawkins’ amendment proposes that the public be consulted over the critical details in determining the boundaries of the Auckland Council region, the wards, and the local boards. It seems perfectly reasonable to me. It enables Aucklanders to have real say as the Local Government Commission decides on the way that the communities of interests will go forward. We should support it.

We have heard from John Carter in the course of this debate that this bill is a work in progress—

Dr Paul Hutchison: “Pro-gress”.

DAVID SHEARER: —or progress. It is a bit late to be talking about a work in progress as we are sitting here listening to the last parts of the legislation being debated in Parliament, when we know that this Government will not take any notice of the changes that are being put forward. Despite the fact that we have put amendments on the Table that will improve this legislation immeasurably, we know that the Government will not take any notice of them.

Labour has looked at having a 5-year review, and Phil Twyford has put an amendment to that effect on the Table. A 5-year review would look at this legislation again. It is a good amendment and we should be supporting it. Labour has proposed what the royal commission recommended about social well-being, and we have put forward an amendment to that effect.

Between 2006 and 2016 the Pacific population in Auckland will increase by 23 percent. Pacific Islanders will become about 16 percent of the total population. That is why Su’a William Sio has put forward an amendment to have a Pacific Advisory Board. There will be a 58 percent increase in the Asian population, which will become 25 percent of Auckland’s population. We have put forward an amendment in the name of Raymond Huo that will set up an Asian Advisory Board. This is what is happening in Manukau, in Waitakere, and in North Shore. It makes good sense. It improves this bill.

Phil Twyford has put forward an amendment proposing that the number of councillors goes from 20 to 25. Again, it is another good amendment. It is a reasonable suggestion that will enable better democracy to be brought to this bill. However, it is not likely to succeed.

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I am very disappointed with Mr Shearer’s speech because he said that the Government has not been paying any attention or giving any regard to the amendments to the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill that have been put on the Table. I have to say that nothing could be further from the truth. We have gone through those amendments with a fine-tooth comb. What surprised us as a Government was how appalling those amendments are. I wish that Mr Shearer and, indeed, the movers of these amendments had studied them. For example, the Hon George Hawkins—who was a very good mayor, is a very good MP, and was a very good Minister; I have high regard for him—popped down here with an amendment that must have been done by the research unit. I do not know whether Mr Shearer studied that one, but Mr Hawkins wanted to shift the southern boundary of the super-city. He would shift it down to the Waikato River catchment boundary. I kid members not! It would have taken in all of Hamilton, Taupō, all of the national park, and Tauranga.

Chris Tremain: And Hawke’s Bay!

Hon RODNEY HIDE: And Hawke’s Bay. Mr Shearer says that the Government has not taken any notice of these amendments. I have to tell him that I went to see Mr Hawkins and I said I had taken a great deal of interest in his amendment. He had to quickly pull it in the hope that Phil Goff, his leader, would not notice it and in the hope that Phil Twyford would not vote for it. Mr Shearer’s party, the Labour Party, proposed an amendment here tonight under urgency to put the upper half of the North Island into the super-city, all the while campaigning that we are setting up the super-city by subterfuge and without involving the people. I ask Mr Shearer whom he consulted in Hamilton on its becoming a member of the super-city. Did George Hawkins have a meeting in Hamilton to discuss whether the people wanted it to be a member of the super-city? I do not think so. Did Phil Goff have a meeting in Taupō about whether the people would like it to be a member of the super-city? I do not think so.

Mr Shearer walked into the Chamber and suggested that the Government had not studied the amendments that have been put up. That is piffle. He walked into the Chamber and said we have not been consulting with the people, when with a cavalier attitude the Labour members were proposing an amendment, sponsored by George Hawkins—heaven knows what he was thinking—to put the upper half of the North Island into the super-city.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We are in the Committee stage of the bill. I know we are having a broad debate, but the rules of the Committee are quite clear: the bill and the amendments that are on the Table should be debated. Amendments that are not on the Table are not debatable at this stage of the debate. They can be debated at the third reading.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): Thank you. This matter has come up before. There has been wide debate on the particular subject the Minister is referring to. An amendment has been put up and he is responding to comments made. I am happy with that.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I can understand why the Labour members do not want to debate their own amendments. They are so embarrassed that they are withdrawing their amendments; they then have the hit man Trevor Mallard saying that they do not want to talk about the amendments that are on the Table.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Were you listening to that?

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I have ruled that the subject has been—

Hon Trevor Mallard: No, to the comment the Minister made, which I took offence to.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): No, I am sorry. What was it?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I took offence at the Minister’s description of me.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I said he was a hit man. He has been convicted of it.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): The member has taken offence. I ask you to withdraw that comment.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I withdraw it. Boy, those members are sensitive about their own amendments!

Hon Steve Chadwick: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We would like the Minister to withdraw and apologise.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): No, I asked the member to withdraw, which he did. I did not ask him to apologise; I asked him to withdraw the comment. He did so.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Let me get this right. Mr Dave Shearer walked down to the Chamber and said that the Government was not taking Labour’s amendment seriously. I stood up here to discuss that amendment—having spent some private time with Mr Hawkins explaining why his amendment was wrong and why he withdrew it—but then Mr Mallard raised a point of order so that we cannot talk about Labour’s amendments. I have to say—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson.

Sandra Goudie: What now?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I think that member is affected. When points of order have been dealt with they are not allowed to be referred to. It has now happened four times.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It would be absurd if, having been granted leave for a wide-ranging debate, we now found ourselves constrained only to matters that the Opposition thinks suitable for debate in the Committee stage. That is unacceptable.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I thank the member. As I have mentioned on two occasions now, the amendment has been subject to debate during the course of the evening. An amendment was tabled, and the Minister is responding to comments made by an Opposition member. I have ruled that to be in order.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I apologise if I did not make my point of order clear. I am not debating your ruling but the fact that the Minister is continuing to refer to it, which is clearly outside Speakers’ rulings.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): No, I do not accept that, Mr Mallard. An amendment has been tabled.

Hon Trevor Mallard: He is referring to your ruling and the point of order. He is not allowed to refer to them.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I have obviously missed the point. I apologise for that. Let us continue. The member has 47 minutes remaining.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Forty-seven minutes—thank you. I am just getting warmed up.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): I can see that there was a faux pas on my part. The member has 47 seconds remaining.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Thank you. I think the point to make is that I and members on this side of the Committee—and, indeed, the country—had forgotten how cavalier Labour members are with the laws that they bring into Parliament. We had forgotten the lengths to which Labour members will go in order to shut down speech, whether in the wider community or in the Chamber. They have come in here and said we are not addressing their amendments, but then tried to shut down the debate. They have not learnt their lesson. A few more apologies are needed.

Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) : I will get back to the substance of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, and move away from that rather bullying tirade from the Minister in the chair, the Minister of Local Government. I will tell a little story.

In one’s professional life in politics one meets a few people along the way who turn one round and make one think quite differently. I was called to the household of an old former Mayor of Rotorua and the first chair of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, John Keaney, who is a very dear old friend. He asked me to get him the Shand report. It was lovely to go to his home, and we talked for a long time. He was a very reasonable man. We talked about the Shand report and he said to me that we had an opportunity to get right the future shape and governance of Auckland city. I absolutely agreed with him. He was a very wise man.

One of the things he said about the Shand report was that, for goodness’ sake, we should make sure that Māori representation is factored into any future shape or form of Auckland governance. He supported the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill in 2001. John Keaney was a wonderful man; he stood out. He knew the Bay of Plenty, he knew about the demographics of it, and he knew about the power of representation of Māori, who were disempowered, and he knew about the difference they would make by participating at the top level—not on advisory boards. At that stage we had advisory boards. He spoke out in support of Judge Trapski, another wise and learned man from the bay, on Auckland’s governance. I never forgot that. His politics were not my politics, but he was a man who always saw the big picture of doing the right thing for New Zealand.

We have before us an amazingly good opportunity, and we all want the same thing. I never thought I would agree with Allan Peachey in this House, but I believe that we all want to get Auckland governance right, because it is the powerhouse for New Zealand and it affects all of New Zealand.

The thing that makes me really sad, as I have been reflecting over the nearly 15 hours of debate in this Chamber, is that the Māori MPs from National have not felt strong enough to come down to the Chamber, not be muzzled by Rodney Hide and their leader, John Key, and speak out on Māori representation. We have had an open and free debate here. I was excited when Simon Bridges stood up. He is the MP for Tauranga; he was not elected because he is Māori, at all. He did not speak out about Māori representation, which was such a disappointment. I saw Paul Quinn and I told him to go down to the Chamber and to not let them hold him back. Māori MPs should speak up—kia kaha—for Māori representation in the bill, because unless they can convince those colleagues on the other side who I know are sensitive to the issue that we must have Māori representation at the top level of governance, at the table of the Auckland super-city, then we will fail a large part of the demographic of Auckland. The bill will fail for that reason, and I do not want that to happen. I thought Hekia Parata and Georgina te Heuheu would come down to the Chamber. They are both National Party list members. I thought that because of their strong representation on Māori issues, they would come down and speak. As the debate nears its end we feel great disappointment that none of those members have come down to the Chamber and spoken out on this issue, at all.

Yet they have a leader in John Key who said his door is always open, who said he is open to considering the issue as the bill comes before the House. This Government, which said that it would be aspirational for the future of New Zealand, has failed the people of Auckland—and in that respect has failed New Zealanders—in not taking this wonderful opportunity to have Māori representation in some form. Labour did not prescribe the number of seats; we thought two seats. We did not argue whether they should be held by mana whenua or tangata whenua, which the Minister in the chair gave a wonderful diatribe about. We just said that that demographic of this huge super-city, which we are all so proud of, should be represented.

I want to explain why Labour feels strongly about Māori representation. Most of the indicators of social well-being—

Hon RODNEY HIDE (Minister of Local Government) : I am sorry to, again, have to correct the Labour members. Ms Chadwick gave a speech about the Shand report. She said she went to see this person to talk with him about the Shand report, and about how good it was. It was not a bad report, actually. What was sad about the Shand report was that the previous Labour Government did nothing with it. It spent the money and got the Shand report in 2007, then sat on it and did nothing.

I also have to say that Ms Chadwick has got herself in a terribly confused state at this time of night. I do not know what she has been up to, but the Shand report had no mention of Māori seats whatsoever. So quite how she had a conversation about the Shand report, that included talk about Māori seats, I do not know. What we are discovering—

Hon Steve Chadwick: I didn’t say Māori seats. The member is misreporting what I said.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: I can point the member to her Hansard. She has now forgotten what she said 5 minutes ago in her speech. She can go straight to her Hansard and see that she was discussing how the Shand report had mention of Māori seats. It did not; it was about rating. The report was nothing to do with Māori seats. It is a pointed reminder of another thing—

Hon Trevor Mallard: What an ignorant Minister. He should just listen for a change.

Hon RODNEY HIDE: Maybe the Hon Trevor Mallard along with Mr Phil Goff should work their apologies a bit harder. They should apologise for trying to recreate history, because that is what that MP, Steve Chadwick, just did.

CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) : First of all, I acknowledge the work of Phil Twyford in the area of seeking protection for Auckland’s assets. It is very important that we listen to what Aucklanders are saying, and, frankly, members have talked to many people, surveys have been done, and it is quite clear that Aucklanders want their assets to be protected. They do not trust the Government in that regard, especially given the position that Rodney Hide holds.

I want to move on to another amendment that Phil Twyford has put forward: to insert new clause 25 in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. It relates to providing protections for the people who work in local government. Again, this is about listening to Aucklanders. A range of submissions were received by the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on this issue, and a number of people strongly expressed their concerns about the very large Auckland local government workforce of over 6,000 workers, who are feeling very insecure at the moment about what these changes mean for them and their families. The Government has not provided any certainty to those people.

I remind members of some of the submissions, because quite significant players in local government said the Government needed to deal with the issue of providing protection for workers. The Devonport Community Board and the North Shore City Council, on one of the days I sat in on the select committee, made very strong submissions in that regard. They recognised that the quality of service delivery is absolutely dependent on the workforce. Nobody would disagree with that. If the workforce in local government is insecure, or if its numbers are cut dramatically, then that will affect the quality of service that is provided to Aucklanders. As Allan Peachey and others have said, this bill is about success for Auckland. Well, getting it right in terms of the people who provide the service is part of achieving success for Auckland. The North Shore City Council submission covered the transfer and treatment of local government staff, and stated: “We believe that the transfer of staff from existing territorial local authorities to the Auckland Council and Watercare Services Limited should happen contemporaneously rather than be staged over time, in order that the movement of staff happens in a coordinated way.” It went on to say: “Council staff are entitled to a degree of certainty and security in their employment relationship in a period of significant change.”

The treatment of these local government workers is fundamentally important, and one can understand why that is the case. I am sure all of us can understand why these workers are feeling insecure. In fact, the level of insecurity is not just about the changes—and they are very significant—but also because they are happening at a time of recession, when unemployment is rising and many other people are struggling to make ends meet. Those council workers do not want to join those people. So what did we do? A couple of months ago the Mayor of Auckland City suggested that 40 percent of those workers might lose their jobs. That was very helpful! But no assurance has been provided to those workers. Maybe somebody on the other side of the Chamber will jump up and tell me that the Government will support Phil Twyford’s amendment, because of course the Government will want to provide certainty to those workers, or a member may say the Government will cover that issue in the third bill. I hope to hear that, but let us see what happens.

The reality is that those workers deserve to be treated fairly. I would have thought that it would be worth taking account of what happened in similar reorganisations in other countries. Certainly, the royal commission looked at local government reorganisation in Queensland, and it saw that there was a very clear process and that undertakings were given to the workforce when there was very significant restructuring. Basically, there was a commitment that no worker would lose his or her job for a period of 3 years, as a result of that reorganisation. That process went very smoothly. The quality of the delivery of services by local government was maintained. The workforce had security, and workers’ conditions of employment were just transferred over. If we compare that with the situation in South Australia, which also carried out a very significant reform of local government, we find the same things did not happen there. Very early on there were redundancies, then there was severe understaffing at certain levels. The effects of that flowed through into the level of services provided to the people of South Australia. We should not repeat those mistakes in Auckland.

I speak in favour of the amendment from Phil Twyford that is on the Table. It does a number of things. First, it states that we should include in the bill the principle of being a good employer. That sounds as though it is pretty important.

Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) : I want to set the record straight on a couple of points. First of all, members opposite have said that the Government does not care about social issues. Well, the Government strongly believes that the new Auckland Council has a fundamental responsibility to address social issues across the region and has announced the establishment of an Auckland Social Policy Forum. The membership, if members opposite are not aware, will comprise the new mayor, the Minister for Social Development and Employment, the council committee chairs, and some representatives from the local boards. Members opposite need to give that forum a chance to work before they start to criticise it. It is being set up in good faith and let us see how it works.

The other issue is about Asian and Pacific Island advisory bodies. The commentary on the bill has a substantial section on council engagement with communities. I will quote from it: “We suggest that advisers or advisory committees or bodies could be appointed to work alongside the Council, particularly for youth, Māori and other ethnic communities, such as Pacific and Asian communities, environmental groups, and people with disabilities. We believe strong advisory bodies are needed to improve participation by these groups, and to ensure that their voices are heard on issues affecting them.” I want to talk about the mayor, but, quite frankly, if the new mayor is smart—and I am sure that the mayor will be very smart—he or she will take this sort of advice and will not ignore it. In fact the mayor will have to be quite an exceptional individual. I am sure he or she will be a very, very strong leader and will have that vision to bring all the regions and people of Auckland together, and that includes all those groups I just talked about. It is quite a responsibility. When the royal commission canvassed opinion and consulted widely, it felt there was consensus that Aucklanders wanted one council. They were sick of traffic congestion, and they wanted Auckland to move ahead as one, so there was certainly consensus there.

I felt I was very privileged to be part of the select committee that went to all the regions of Auckland, listened to the submitters, and heard their concerns and fears for the future. The individual who is chosen to be the Auckland mayor will, I am sure, step up and make sure those communities are well represented—because Aucklanders’ main concern was that they would be ignored and not represented. That was the common theme running through all the communities we visited around Auckland. Changes have been made between the original bill and the current bill that we have in front of us, and those changes will allow the mayor to undertake the role more effectively. The mayor will be able to appoint the deputy mayor and the chairperson of the committees of the council, determine the committees’ structure, lead the development of plans, policies, and budgets for consideration by the council, and establish and maintain the office of the council. In respect of that office, the Auckland Governance Legislative Committee recommends that 0.2 percent of the council’s budgeted operational expenditure be set as a budget for that office. That will allow a significant amount of money, between $2 million and $3 million, to employ independent advisers and specialist advice. This was done so that the office of the mayor could have some independence, and because we wanted to strike a balance between the power of the mayor and of the chief executive, and we think we have done that with those particular changes.

I have been quite disappointed to hear tonight comments that the local boards do not have powers. I know that members on this side have stood up and—

Dr Rajen Prasad: They don’t. Read the bill.

Dr JACKIE BLUE: They do have the power. I will tell the member what the local boards will be doing, so I ask him to please listen. These local boards will not be the community boards that we have currently, or the councils that we have currently. They will be new entities that will have power and status supported by this legislation. They will have significant responsibilities. The original bill has been changed significantly to beef up the powers of the boards. They will have dedicated budgets to provide for local services. They will be required to listen to, and consult with, their communities. The local boards will be required to make a plan and will be able to propose by-laws that, provided they are truly local, will be adopted. If appropriate, the by-laws could even be enforced by the local boards. This is all about empowering local communities.

MOANA MACKEY (Labour) : I was not considering taking another call in this debate until, during the contribution from my colleague Steve Chadwick, the member Sandra Goudie made quite a telling interjection. When Steve Chadwick was discussing the issue of Māori seats and asking why the member for Tauranga, Simon Bridges, had not come down to the Chamber to speak out on it, Sandra Goudie said: “Because he won his seat based on merit. He didn’t have it handed to him on a plate.” Well, I want to ask Sandra Goudie whether she thinks the member Rahui Katene won her seat on merit. Does Ms Goudie think Ms Katene had it handed to her on a plate? I can tell that member, who has gone very quiet all of a sudden for a member who is usually very raucous, that the members of the Māori seats on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council won their seats on merit. They were democratically elected in contested elections. They had nothing handed to them on a plate. They absolutely won those seats on merit.

I ask Sandra Goudie whether she stands by those comments that she interjected during my colleague Steve Chadwick’s contribution. Does she stand by them? Look at that! Of course she does. That is the very crux of the issue of Māori seats.

Sandra Goudie: Absolutely.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Absolutely stands by them!

MOANA MACKEY: She absolutely stands by her comments that Māori members who stand in Māori constituencies do not win their seats on merit but have them handed to them on a plate. I know that the member Rahui Katene worked very hard to win her seat and that Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta worked very hard to win their seats. I thank Sandra Goudie very much for telling us in the dying stages of this Committee debate the real reason why National opposes Māori seats on the Auckland Council: National does not believe that those seats would be won based on merit. That is incredibly offensive, and not just to the Māori Party members of Parliament, whom her party is sucking up to, pretending that they respect them and have a mana-enhancing relationship with them. When it comes down to it, Sandra Goudie and the National Government do not believe that the Māori Party members won their seats on merit. They believe those seats were handed to them on a plate. Sandra Goudie seems to think that her seat means a little bit more than a Māori constituency seat. She thinks that she actually had to earn her seat, but members for Māori seats do not really have to earn them, because it is a little bit easier to win them.

This comes down to the core of the issue: a Māori seat is still one person, one vote. Māori people on the general roll do not get two votes. They do not get to vote for two MPs; they get to vote for only one MP. What is it about that that the National Government finds so offensive? The issue is representation, as I said earlier this morning. I doubt that Sandra Goudie, if there was not a Māori MP also servicing her area, would go on to marae, go to hui, and speak in Māori, so that those constituents would get the same level of representation as her other constituents. This debate is about Māori seats on the Auckland Council. It is about representation. It is about constituents who are Māori and whose preferred forum for consultation is on marae, in hui, and speaking in Māori deserving the same level of representation as constituents whose preferred medium of consultation is at a Rotary meeting or in an electorate office, and speaking in English.

I want to know what the National Government finds so offensive about that idea that it feels the need to desperately oppose having any Māori seats on the Auckland Council. I wonder how many hui Sandra Goudie has held in her electorate with her Māori constituents, speaking in Māori, since she was elected.

Hon Member: None.

MOANA MACKEY: Exactly. That is why we have Māori seats—to ensure that those New Zealanders for whom that is their preferred medium of consultation get the same level of representation.

Sandra Goudie: Many meetings. Anybody can come.

MOANA MACKEY: Sandra Goudie can harp away at me right now. I cannot even hear what she is saying any more, but she has revealed the truth. National does not believe that Māori electorate members are elected based on merit. Ms Goudie and her party believe that those members are a little bit inferior—or maybe a lot inferior, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt—because although she won her seat based on merit and Simon Bridges won his seat based on merit, those Māori members did not win their seats based on merit.

CHRIS TREMAIN (National—Napier) : I want to bring a counter view to Moana Mackey’s diatribe from across the Chamber this evening. I will do that by bringing a provincial perspective to the debate; in particular, it is the perspective of Hēnare O’Keefe, who is a councillor on the Hastings District Council. I will talk about him in detail, because his example brings quite a bit of perspective. This man won Māori representation through the traditional route of democracy. He stood up against every other candidate for the Hastings District Council, won through, and now has ongoing representation.

I will put forward my particular view on this issue. I am pretty clear about my views on Māori representation, not only in Auckland but elsewhere around the country. Firstly, I agree that there is under-representation of Māori on local body councils, but I do not believe that guaranteed seats are the way to achieve the outcome we are seeking.

The same issue presented itself to women 30 or 40 years ago, and women represent 50 percent of the electorate. When 50 percent of the electorate did not have representation on local body councils, did we go out and make particular seats for women? No, we did not. Society clearly had to change. Women clearly needed more representation on local body councils. Society changed, and over time more and more women were elected to local body councils. Now we see the flavour of the country represented at a local body level.

On that basis, I am confident that if good Māori candidates stand with good support from their colleagues and friends, they will be elected. I started with the case of Hēnare O’Keefe, who stood and got the second-highest vote in Flaxmere. He told me—and this is a very important point—that he had limited campaign resources and his budget for his campaign was under $1,000. We have heard throughout the Committee stage that the only way someone standing in a local body election can win through is to be extremely rich or extremely influential. That is not actually the case. A local body election can be won with a limited budget through getting out there. The great thing about Hēnare O’Keefe is that he has proved his worth through hard work, having the hui that Ms Mackey talked about, and representing his people, thus making sure he will be re-elected. I guarantee that when he stands as part of the democratic process during the next election, he will be successful and will come through.

A poll held recently in Auckland was indicative in respect of the number of Aucklanders who wanted to see Māori seats. The result was high: 45 percent of Aucklanders, if I am not incorrect, wanted to see Māori seats in Auckland. I put it to members that if as many Aucklanders as that are keen to see Māori seats, then I would suggest they would be more than happy to vote for good Māori candidates. They will stand up. A renaissance throughout this country is seeing much more focus on Māori culture and tikanga throughout our communities. I believe that if good Māori stand for these seats, they will have a very good chance of being elected.

I do not buy the idea that Māori cannot afford a decent campaign. That is rubbish. If Māori protesters are able to put together a good protest—and I say good on them for doing that—I believe that they can put their energy and passion behind a good campaign. That is my challenge to the other side of the Chamber. At the next local body elections, members opposite should put their energy behind Māori candidates, and make sure they have good finance and are best prepared to stand up—

Hon Steve Chadwick: Oh, the poor Māori!

CHRIS TREMAIN: No, it is called supporting one’s colleagues. It is called getting in behind them and giving them the best chance to get up there. People like Hēnare O’Keefe can win in a democratic process under the current system. We do need more Māori representation at the local body council level. But I believe that with good campaigns and strong support they can be as successful as anyone else who stands.

DARIEN FENTON (Labour) : We started this debate yesterday. I was one of the early speakers in this Committee stage, and I referred to the 6,000 staff—citizens, voters, and workers of Auckland—who are facing awful uncertainty and lay-offs.

Hon Member: And their families.

DARIEN FENTON: That is right. In all of the 15 hours that we have been debating the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, I have not heard one comment from the other side of the Chamber about those staff and the huge challenges facing them. There have been no guarantees from this Government. There has been no reassurance about those workers’ positions. That tells those of us on this side of the Chamber that the Government does not care about 6,000 workers and their families in Auckland. It does not care; otherwise it would have come to the party, and Minister Rodney Hide and the National-Act Government would have provided a firm guarantee that staff would move to the new council, and that local government services would not be cut. We have not heard that.

On this side of the Chamber, as my colleague Carol Beaumont said earlier, we are moving an amendment that will provide protection for the staff. We want it written into this legislation, and we want it to be part of the setting up of the new council. We tried to include such protection in the first bill, the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Bill, and the Government voted it down. That was an appalling message to those 6,000 workers. It was an awful message that resonated right around the councils. Those workers have to carry on their work and provide services, day in, day out. The message they got from the debate on the first bill was that this Government does not care. Now the Government has a second chance to put something in this bill to prove that it does care about the local government workers in Auckland. We want to ensure that the Government guarantees those jobs and the terms and conditions of those workers during the transition to the new Auckland Council.

We have to keep Auckland working during this transition process. If there are no guarantees, if workers lose confidence, which they are doing as they are expected to pick up more and more work as people leave, as they are required to fit in with the sinking-lid policy that is already being applied, our city of Auckland will grind to a halt. It will to stop working. The Government has never understood how important those people who do the work are to keeping Auckland working. Unfortunately, the Government thinks that these workers should just keep on hanging on, and that they should hang in there. You know, there is a recession, so they are lucky to have jobs. After all, they are just a bunch of bureaucrats, so who cares? Those workers keep trying to do what they are doing, because they believe in what they do, and in the quality of the service they provide to Auckland citizens. They hope the Government will do the right thing.

As I said before, the Auckland Transition Agency is not replacing workers as they leave, so the workers are already carrying extra workloads. Fixed-term employment agreements are coming in, as are external contractors. In addition to the 6,000 workers who are employed by the councils, a whole raft of contractors are facing uncertainty.

It also worries me in particular that we are seeing some pretty awful employer behaviour at the moment. I call it “employers unplugged”. They have been unplugged from the expectation that the previous Labour Government had of them to behave with some decency and fairness.

At the moment we have a threatened lockout of Auckland bus workers. They are council workers once removed. There are lockouts and threatened lockouts of dairy workers in the Waikato. Today there are more lockouts, involving the Bridgeman Concrete workers in Manukau. I think the Government should adopt Labour’s amendment, to reassure the Auckland council workers that during the reorganisation the workers’ ability to deliver high-quality services will be maintained, that the reorganisation must maintain or improve the terms and conditions of those workers, and that they must have certainty. I am relieved that the workers of Auckland have a good reputation—

COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura) : It has been an incredible debate. For one who has listened to it for the majority of the 16 hours of its duration, after hearing Rajen Prasad, Phil Twyford, Carol Beaumont, Su’a William Sio, Moana Mackey, George Hawkins, David Shearer, and Darien Fenton, it would be fair to say that the Opposition has thrown its very best at the Government to test the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, which is before the Committee, and it would be fair to say that the Government has repelled the arguments of the other side. As Carol Beaumont said, it is about listening to people, and I must say that it is quite clear that the Government has listened to the people of Auckland.

We have heard all sorts of scaremongering and lamenting. We have heard all sorts of foolishness. We have heard comedy, and we have heard fantasy. But we must agree that when the chips are down, members on this side of the Chamber have had the wherewithal to take Auckland to where it needs to go. One should not be left with any delusion: it has taken a Government with a clear vision and leadership to get it to there. The debate on Auckland governance has been languishing for the last 30 years, and it has taken the leadership of a John Key - led Government, a Minister of Local Government like Rodney Hide, and an Associate Minister of Local Government like John Carter, to bring it about.

When we think about it, we know that Aucklanders are ambitious. What we heard from the Opposition was everything other than ambition. We heard about the sale of assets, and then we had the Minister explain that the $20 billion of assets—

Hon George Hawkins: It’s $28 billion.

COLIN KING:—the $28 billion of assets—is largely wrapped up in roading. It is also in libraries and in parks. The process of setting up assets for sale is tied up in the long-term council community plan, and it is a lengthy process. We see it as being a local government process. We are very confident on this side of the Chamber that once Aucklanders are given the opportunity to have the combined effect of a unitary authority, they will organise themselves in such a way that they will be able to address every concern that the Opposition has thrown up, be it a social issue or be it an issue around the advisory boards. The Government has been able to address and answer the concerns of the Opposition.

The point we want to make is that after 16 hours of debate the Opposition has worn itself down with smoke and mirrors, scaremongering, lamenting, comedy, and fantasy. Labour was unbalanced, reckless, and directionless for 9 years, and in Opposition it is proving to be even less effective.

I will conclude my 5 minutes by talking about what the Government did, and I come back to the point of listening to the people. Carol Beaumont said we should listen to the people, and I think it is very appropriate that after 16 hours the Opposition has thrown the best it possibly can at the debate, and the Government has repelled the arguments. National members have heard all sorts of angles coming from the Opposition. I must commend the Minister of Local Government and his Associate Minister John Carter. They have had the internal fortitude and the courage to take Auckland to a position that the rest of New Zealand aspires to. Those of us who live in the regions had been looking with amazement at the lack of direction of the previous Labour Government over its 9 years in office.

PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : I have been accused of scaremongering and fearmongering. Rodney Hide said it was a pretend debate, and John Carter said it was a distraction. They were talking about privatisation. Why do they think that? Why do they not agree with what the rest of Aucklanders say? We know what the polls say: 85 percent of Aucklanders overwhelmingly oppose the privatisation of the water supply; 82 percent oppose selling assets like parks, libraries, and entertainment facilities; and 78 percent oppose the privatisation of ports and airports. Why are Aucklanders mistrustful of Rodney Hide? Why do they not like Rodney Hide? Why do they not believe him when he says he has no plans to privatise our assets? I will tell members why. The Prime Minister of this Government, John Key, said there will be no asset sales in this term of office. That really inspires a lot of confidence.

Aucklanders have very recent experience of politicians on that side of the Chamber selling off their assets, whether it is the airport, the ports, or John Banks’ selling off pensioner housing. The Government recently loosened the rules on overseas investments. What kind of signal does that send to an electorate that is concerned about privatisation?

The Minister of Local Government recently said on Campbell Live: “I love privatisation.” But do you know what? He twisted the words of his own Prime Minister to try to deceive the television audience that there was no risk of privatisation. I will tell members what he said. Rodney Hide said to John Campbell: “The Prime Minister said, no, there will be no privatisation. He’s the Prime Minister. I’m not the Mayor of Auckland. I’m not part of the council.” John Campbell said: “But you’re being a tad disingenuous there.” Rodney Hide: “No, I’m not.” Campbell: “Yes, you are. The Prime Minister said there will be no privatisation of State assets.” Rodney Hide said: “Correct.” John Campbell said: “These are regional assets—quite a different thing, not covered by what John Key was talking about.” Rodney Hide: “That’s right.” He crudely twisted the Prime Minister’s words, to try to put the people off the track of privatisation. He is a Minister who not only says he loves privatisation but also says that he wants to privatise the Ports of Auckland now. Well, at least he is open about it, unlike members on that side of the Chamber.

The thing is that monopoly infrastructure assets, like the water company—the new water monopoly in Auckland—and like the airport shares, have to be retained in public hands because they are a natural monopoly. We know from bitter experience that if they are put into private hands, all we will see is monopoly rent-seeking behaviour. The only way to safeguard the public interest is for those assets to be held in public hands.

The facilities of local government, like parks, libraries, cultural facilities, theatres, and halls, have to be in public ownership. They have to be managed in the public interest, because that is the only way ratepayers and citizens have free and equal access to them. But that is the opposite of the philosophy of the member who is sitting in the chair, Rodney Hide. His policy, the policy of his party, is that piped water and roading should be run on a fully commercial basis. That is straight out of ACT Party policy. And he wonders why Aucklanders are mistrustful and fearful of his nightmare vision of local government.

Nikki Kaye: Oh, oh!

PHIL TWYFORD: Nikki Kaye thinks that that is scaremongering. Is it scaremongering? No, it is not scaremongering, and the test is in the eating, because 80 percent of Aucklanders oppose privatisation of any description.

Hon Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We are getting near to the end of the time, but this member’s point is about Aucklanders, and I would I just point out that Nikki Kaye and I won our seats.

The CHAIRPERSON (Lindsay Tisch): No, that is not a point of order. That is just interrupting the member.

PHIL TWYFORD: If the members on the other side of the Chamber voted for our amendment, they would protect Aucklanders’ assets by subjecting any privatisation efforts to a referendum. But do you know what? The leader of the ACT Party believes in referendums for every other thing in local government. He wants to force councils to hold referendums on any significant and irreversible decision. He wants them to have a referendum if they want to put up their rates beyond the rate of inflation. But does he want them to have a referendum on the future of Auckland’s assets? No. Why? I challenge the Minister to explain why he will not support a referendum on public assets.

NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : This debate was supposed to be about hope and the future of Auckland, but what is very clear is that tonight we have seen amendments from the Labour Party that are about scaremongering. Section 97 of the Local Government Act protects the assets of the people of Auckland. Mr Twyford is all about scaremongering.

The people of Auckland never heard from Labour members tonight about the regional infrastructure that is to be delivered finally to the people of Auckland. They did not hear speeches from Labour members about urban design. They did not hear speeches from Labour members about local representation on the local boards—

  • Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 9 a.m. (Thursday)