Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018
Auckland Council’s proposal to use rates funding to subsidise expansion of its own waste collection services in competition with the private sector should be withdrawn.
“It creates a clear conflict of interest for the Council,” says Auckland Chamber Business head Michael Barnett.
It is of huge concern to the Chamber that Council wants to start a commercial waste service that competes against the private sector, and which would put it in conflict with its regulatory role to ensure private companies comply with Council’s rules.
The Council’s proposal to embark on a commercial waste enterprise is set out in the Draft Auckland Waste Minimisation Plan 2018 currently under consideration by Councillors, but is in variance with advice in a supporting Auckland Council Waste Services Value for Money 17A review which was clear on this initiative (p.46): “‘proceed with caution’ as this could see duplication of existing firms already operating site waste plans….”
Alarmed industry representatives had contacted the Chamber asking for help, said Barnett.
To avoid the Council getting into a conflict of interest it needs to ensure its proposed new waste management policy sticks to its core role and responsibility as set out in legislation:
- Council’s role is to set and administer Waste Management regulations - NOT get into delivery of commercial services;
- The private sector’s role is to deliver the services – to ensure they meet the standards and rules set by Council.
Barnett pointed out that last year’s 17A review recommended that before any expansion of council waste operations, a robust cost-benefit analysis be undertaken. This has not occurred. It should be mandatory before any expansion of services is proposed.
“The only time local government should get involved in providing a commercial service is when evidence shows market failure, and that is far from the case in how Auckland’s waste management services are performing.
“It is obvious to me that both the private sector and Council want to deliver the best possible environment gains and a higher recycling rate. “
Auckland’s waste management goals will only succeed long-term if Council and the private sector work together – they must find a way to do that, concluded Barnett.