Auckland governance inquiry team named

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The Government has announced the membership and terms of reference for the royal commission of inquiry into the governance of Auckland.

Local Government Minister Mark Burton said yesterday that the commission would be chaired by retired High Court judge Peter Salmon, QC, who would work alongside public service doyenne Dame Margaret Bazley and local government rates inquiry chairman David Shand.

Critics say Auckland's four city councils, three district councils and one regional council are too many – spawning too many bureaucrats, costing too much and making it too difficult to get agreement on key infrastructure projects.

Last year, the four city mayors discussed the proposal of a super- council.

But the idea was shelved after opposition from the Rodney, Papakura and Franklin districts, Auckland Regional Council, and many councillors from the four cities, who were shut out of discussions.

The Government announced this year that a royal commission would look at the issues.

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Mr Burton said yesterday that the commission's terms of reference would include looking into the governance, institutional and ownership structures and funding responsibilities that would best help the Auckland region provide key infrastructure, services and facilities; the legislative changes needed to meet the commission's recommendations; and what changes to the boundaries of the Auckland region would be necessary.

Mr Burton said a healthy Auckland was crucial to a successful New Zealand economy.

"The issues about Auckland's future governance are complex and the royal commission will provide for careful and thorough investigation and consultation to identify the most appropriate long-term governance arrangements . . . to secure its future as an internationally competitive city and region."

No date has yet been set for submissions.

Areas specifically excluded in the commission's terms include funding arrangements with central government. Mr Burton said that was because any funding from central government was up to the government of the day to decide.

Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said the lobby group had absolute confidence in the commission's appointed members.

"We are delighted at the calibre of people chosen for this critical role."

NZPA