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Veto power will hold the Council to account

Mark Thomas – Auckland Council nees-Mark Thomas Web

Only 15% of Aucklanders are satisfied with the Auckland Council and just 17% trust it to make good decisions. Only 8% of people say they are advocates for Council!

If this was the real world, the Auckland Council would have gone out of business.

This problem has been getting worse since the Council was established in 2010 and urgent steps are needed to change it. We are supposed to be Local Government, but our actions are actually moving us further away from this purpose.

Declining power

To address this, I have announced that I will establish new citizen veto powers by introducing binding referenda, move to greater on-line decision-making and dramatically boost Local Board powers.

I will introduce a new veto power, where 15,000 Aucklanders can require the Council to run a poll to overturn a decision made. The result will be binding on Council.

Local boards, which I will rename local councils to better describe their purpose, will have ability by working together to block any governing body decision they disagree with and propose an alternate option.

This will happen automatically unless the Councillors vote by 75% to override.

I will also make it easier for Aucklanders to require action from councils by initiating polls on key issues.

Reducing costs

About 90% of the 27,000 people who submitted on the current ten-year budget wanted governance and administration costs reduced. Nothing changed and we are fooling ourselves if we think we can continue to ask people what they want and then not deliver it.

I have based some of these ideas from Switzerland’s ‘direct democracy’ model of local government and also the online engagement taking place in some American cities.

I toured Switzerland earlier in my career and saw firsthand the benefits a well- designed, direct democracy system could have building much greater engagement.

The purpose here is not to stop good decision-making by have citizen’s regularly reject council decisions. The effect of my policy will be to improve the quality of the Council’s decisions and better connect it to the people it is supposed to represent.

Setting priorities

My new council budget setting approach will automatically include the top five local board priorities in the ten-year plan.

I will also directly poll Aucklanders on key issues each year and require this to be included in decision-making.

I will transfer all local decision making power to local councils, including all facilities, parks and libraries. They will sit together with the Councillors as joint decision-makers on a new council Business Committee which will decide contracts and procurement.

The current disillusion with the Council has spread to the mayoral election, with only name recognition driving preferences.

The Auckland Council has enormous potential, but is on life support at the moment. Radical surgery is essential and that is what my plans will deliver.

Mark Thomas is a candidate for the Auckland Mayoralty.

 

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