Why Be Super Mayor? It’s Starting To Sound Like An Evil SimCity


I’m beginning to wonder why anyone would want to stand for super-mayor of the new super-city, a job that seems to have become effectively a two-man race between Banksy and Len Brown, now that Mike Lee has opted to stand for just a council position.

The more I read through the super city legislation and the mounting anger in the submissions to the parliamentary committee studying it, I wonder exactly what power the mayor and council have.

Apart from dangling their mayoral chains at official gatherings like council meetings, Pasifika and Big Gay Out, the person sounds like a figurehead Lord Mayor.

As ARC Chair, Mike Lee pointed out this week to the parliamentary committee, the bill creates three very large bureaucracies – not just Auckland Transport, which this blog has been concentrating on but  Watercare, plus the council or as Lee put it: 3 quite separate powerful fiefdoms running Auckland – and only one democratically accountable.

And the Auckland Council will,  all up,  have to work with up to 7 Council Controlled Organisations to make and implement decisions.

As Lee pointed out : This is no improvement over the current situation where the ARC has to work with up to 7 local councils to get decisions made and implemented.

Seven giant bureaucratic entities - how frustrating will that be to work through?  Don’t believe me they will giant bureaucracies? Check out of the first list of jobs advertised for Auckland Transport positions. One can only imagine the salary bill for those first positions alone.

As we have been noting here for weeks , the new transport agency will operate in total secrecy with no agendas or public meetings and  will be spending over 50% of the Auckland Council’s rates revenue $1.3 billion of Aucklanders’ money, yet the arrangements proposed do not make it accountable to the public for the expenditure of that money, and nor do they make it accountable to the Auckland Council.

As ARC Chief Executive, Peter Winder, said in his submission to back up Lee:  Auckland Transport will be preparing the Regional Land Transport Programme, and Auckland Council will be providing over 50% of its rates revenue for the implementation of that programme. However, the Council won’t even have decision rights on what is included in the Regional Land Transport Programme, because according to the Bill it will only be consulted if affected. The Bill also proposes that the Regional Land Transport Programme would not be required to give effect to the Regional Land Transport Strategy.

“Our submission has provided a comparison of the accountability arrangements for Auckland Transport with those for crown agents. We note that the Government has significantly more control over NZTA than the Auckland Council will have over Auckland Transport, yet Auckland Transport will be around 70% of the size of NZTA. What is worrying is that the Auckland Council will have less control over Auckland Transport than the Government has over even very small crown agents such as the New Zealand Tourism Board or the Health Research Council of New Zealand.”

And Watercare becomes another giant - Watercare Services Ltd, will assume statutory responsibility for the delivery of integrated water and wastewater services in urban areas.

This is more and more sounding like an evil version of Sim City, in which giant faceless unaccountable corporations will be running Auckland while the elected public faces of Auckland open school fairs, smile to cameras and pretend they really have jobs to do.

And the giant corporations will have their strings pulled from Wellington’s central government.

if super-mayor, what decision-making will he be allowed?

I’m with Rodney Hide that the idea of a super-city sounded in principle is over-due.

Auckland’s so fragmented and no-one can ever get to make a decision, an example seen just the other day with the Queens Wharf fiasco.

In over a year of running this site, i still sometimes get lost trying to work out exactly which authority to ring about a certain part of the transport business and I still sometimes get confused.

It’s always a blessed relief and surprise,  if anyone actually puts their hand up when Icall and admits it’s their domain.

But the Hide plan won’t Auckland to do any better at giving the public what we want through any uniformed decision=making.

The mayor and council can’t just make a decision even on something so simple as the siting of a bus stop and then simply go out and implement it.

The concern has become so serious, it can’t be dismissed at the Beehive as just known lefties waving placards to push their longtime grievances.

Even the most conservative well-respected business people in suits around town, like the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, are asking for a re-think.

It has to happen. Or National faces an angry Auckland public voting them out next election.




  1. Roger says:

    My concern Jon is that we have to get saddled with an existing mayor.

    If this new council was a board of a very large company they would advertise for a CEO, conduct interviews with a range of high-qualified candidates and select someone who fitted with the direction they wanted the company to go.

    With the current situation the council (board) gets no say in who they have to work with and will have to accomodate the winner and his personal preferences.

    No the way I would run a company of this size!


  2. max says:

    What company? Auckland is not a company, and neither should it’s transport division.

  3. anthony says:

    All because of the RWC Auckland is going nuts.

  4. ingolfson says:

    “All because of the RWC Auckland is going nuts.”

    Huh? Rodney Hide probably doesn’t give a toss about the RWC.

    Saw him wandering about Newmarket today, BTW, chattering into his mobile… couldn’t he have stayed in his dingy little Nuffield Street office? How the heck did he become minister? (I guess you will throw MMP at me, and argue that he became the minister the same way some Greens did which you didn’t like - but… still…)

  5. Frustrated says:

    @ Jon C Excellent summary.

  6. Sarah says:

    Even pro Key Granny Herald agrees with you this morning!

    ..”the single mayor and council will be a puppet show, purely for democratic appearances, while the real decisions are made by people the public has not elected and will never see. It cannot stand.”

  7. Jeremy Harris says:

    @ingolfson, the gReens have never had a Minister…

    This isn’t like Simcity at all, while in Simcity you don’t have to consult with your citizens at least as Mayor you’ve not had your balls cut off and given to corporations..!

  8. Jeremy Harris says:


  9. Adam Moore says:

    i played the original SimCity in the 90′s and until now i still play the latest version of SimCity-”

  10. Oliver Jones says:

    i used to play Sim City when i was still in high school and this is simply one of the best games of all times.*,-


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