In the Local Government Act 2002, pushed by Lee and supported by Labour, local authorities were given the "power of general competence" to pursue the "economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being" of their communities. In other words, they not only could do whatever they wished, within the bounds of other laws, but they had a "duty" to consider those four "dimensions" of community development. It implied that councils not only could, but should be involved in economic development, promoting arts and culture and having a social welfare role of sorts.
National and ACT voted against this when it was in Parliament, but just to show "Plus ça change", it means nothing. The concerns expressed at the time have evaporated.
National has effectively adopted the local government policy promulgated by Labour and the Alliance. None of ACT's local government policy looks like coming to pass.
What does this mean for the supercity? Well my warnings that the supercity does not look constrained are right.
Auckland will have a mega city, with mega powers, and no constraints on its power. Even Rodney Hide now believes the majority can pillage the minority by saying:
"If a community want something and are prepared to pay for it, that's fine".
Rodney, if the community are so willing to pay for it, why the hell is the council making them pay? What does local government have to do with choice?
Mildly tinkering with transparency doesn't ratchet things back.
No. On local government the left has won, the ACT enthusiasts who think an Auckland mega city will vote to the "right" and constrain council spending (presumably with downtown railway tunnel enthusiast John Banks as Mayor), are deluding themselves. They have at least surrendered the rest of the country for their rose coloured view of the mega city. Frankly, it's a view that I could understand from National, which is as embedded in local government as the Labour Party, but that's it.
Rodney Hide and John Key are essentially adopting a legal framework and policy of the Alliance and Labour parties on local government.
Is this what you voted for?