14 May 2009

Progress slow on Auckland super-city legislation

10:39 pm on 14 May 2009

Filibustering by the Labour Party is delaying the progress of Auckland super-city legislation.

Parliament is sitting under urgency to consider the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill to set up an agency that will oversee the transition to a one-council entity.

The legislation will dissolve the current eight councils in order to set up the Auckland Transition Agency.

A five-member board will oversee the transition to a single council, plus 20 to 30 community boards. The eight councils will go out of existence on 1 November 2010.

Labour says it is undemocratic to rush the bill through Parliament and has introduced hundreds of amendments to stall the process. They were still being voted on late on Thursday night.

The Government had hoped to have the bill passed before the House rose at midnight, but Radio New Zealand political staff say this will not be possible.

Parliament will continue sitting under urgency at 9am on Friday.

Auckland issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says the bill establishes a powerful authority which will be made up of hand-picked mates of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

Mr Twyford says the legislation will abolish the powers of existing mayors, as well as local and regional councils which are only half way through their terms.

But Mr Hide says Labour's stalling tactics will not stop the legislation from being passed, as the Government has the numbers it needs to pass the bill with support from the Act Party and United Future.

Mr Hide says the amendments are a waste of time, as the Government has the numbers to defeat them.

The Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill passed its first reading on Wednesday night by 64 votes to 57.

Labour, the Maori Party, the Progressive Party and the Greens opposed the bill.