Below is John Meeuwsen’s open letter to the Local Government Commission
The decision by Commissioners to treat the Our Waiheke’s
application as an ‘alternative’ application for the affected area determined for the North Rodney reorganisation application process’ is potentiaĺly very disadvantageous to both North Rodney’s and Waiheke’s applications.
It also begs legal questions which may need to be pursued. For example, legal advice confirms our belief that Schedule 3 of the current legislation makes no provision for dealing with separate applications together. While it was apparently done with respect to the Wairarapa/greater Wellington reorganisation applications, that was subject to later challenge if the eventual proposal had not been favoured by the parties involved.
If it “makes sense to consider all proposals about the governance of Auckland together”, as you said in your email of 30 May, then the Commissioners have basically rejected the essence of the applications from NAG and OW. Both sought to break away from Auckland Council and were silent on any other aspect of its organisation.
I am sorry but I cannot understand your further sentence that “It makes no sense to also consider the Our Waiheke proposal again and simultaneously under a separate process for the Waiheke application for which the affected area will at least overlap, and may even be the same.” Please clarify….. For my part, I have no problem seeing the sense of dealing separately with these applications – they only overlap in so far as the term ‘Auckland Council’ happens to involve them at present. If achieving “better local government” is the objective, as required under the L G Act, then the applications are quite separate.
It may suit the Commission administratively to deal with the NAG and OW applications together but doing so must complicate the LGC’s consultation with the communities potentially affected. The inclusive process may result in a ‘final proposal’ that is unhelpfully complex for any poll that may follow. We will need assurances as to how complexity for any final proposal affecting the Waiheke community can be avoided e.g. does the LGC have the power to make multiple ‘final proposals’ for greater Auckland so that the residents and ratepayers of North Rodney and Waiheke can vote on proposals affecting their areas only? Unlikely, we imagine, and another good reason why procedural fairness may be called into question as a result of the decision to deal with the 2 applications together.
The Commission’s earlier decision that the OW application should be formally assessed is the first stage in the process prescribed in the LG Act. By making the OW application an alternative to North Rodney’s, the Commission has sidestepped the prescribed second stage – that of deciding whether establishing a Waiheke Council would have a “material effect” on the operations of the Auckland Council. This may also be questionable process.
OW has argued vigorously on three occasions that it would be drawing a long bow indeed to claim that an island with 0.6% of the population of Auckland, that is separated by sea from any Auckland infrastructure and easily separated administratively, could materially affect the operations, finances etc of Auckland Council.
OW does not want to be litigious or antagonise the body that has the ultimate say on any new proposal to be put to communities affected by its decisions. However, we are aware that the Chair has provided assurances that the letter of the law will be followed in dealing with reorganisation applications.
Given the community support we have, OW must raise questions with the Commission until we are satisfied that it has not materially disadvantaged our community’s right to fair process according to the law as it stands.
I would be grateful if we could arrange a meeting to discuss our need for reassurance on process asap after my return to NZ on 27 June.
Regards, John Meeuwsen on behalf of the Our Waiheke team
Below is the letter from the Local Government Commission with their decision about how they are going to treat the Our Waiheke application.