Sunday, 1st November, 2015
Congratulations - Auckland Council celebrates its 5th birthday today.
We are a city where people want to be. The private sector is endorsing Auckland through the billions of dollars it is investing - in multi-level towers for hotel, retail, office and apartments to creative and ambitious businesses. Auckland business is booming, generating around 36% of New Zealand’s GDP and setting a platform for a city with an exciting, thriving economy and lifestyle.
But it is also obvious that after 5-years our city’s governance still isn’t yet fully established. We continue to struggle to grasp the scale of change needed to get in front of Auckland’s accelerating growth curve.
Still missing is a fit for purpose plan linking urban and infrastructure investment requirements, especially transport and housing. Local and central government need to work harder to cut red tape to help enable Auckland’s growth rather than constrain and add to its cost.
We have big skill shortages and huge youth unemployment issues we need to get on top of.
In an environment of low inflation, a 9% annual rate increase on our 550,000 ratepayers is unacceptable, as is expecting them to fund the improvements which benefit everyone.
Most of Auckland’s 21 local boards are larger than many of New Zealand’s provincial centres, yet the message I hear is that many feel under resourced and ignored.
Right or wrong, this tells me is that we have some way yet to go to tell the story of the new Auckland in a way that gives Aucklanders an informed understanding of what really is happening to their city. It needs to be an Auckland story, told at a human level.
Nowhere is the need for an informed story greater than in the debate over whether the city should expand outwards or intensify and build up.
Yes. Auckland provides an exciting and attractive life style. There is nowhere I would rather be. But because what is missing reflects problems of our own making, they are things that only we can fix. And we owe it to ourselves to do so.