Press Release – Cameron Brewer
Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer says sick of fronting up to the Council Chamber to be challenged and have a raft of questions on their annual performance, the seven council-controlled organisations recommended that councillors just get mailed the annual reports from the CCOs, rather than have to front up.
However in the latest meeting of the Accountability & Performance Committee that recommendation was rejected by eight councillors to six.
“Thankfully a majority of councillors smelled a rat and demanded that the CCOs continue to front up to present their annual reports in person. I argued that councillors need to be able to compare CCOs performance year on year and that the public would expect nothing less,” says Mr Brewer.
“Given the growing public concern at the cost and power of the seven unelected council-controlled organisations, their performance needs to be scrutinised by councillors at every opportunity.
“It was an outrageous attempt to dilute political input and the recommendation should not have even seen the light of day. They need to be pushed back.
“However unfortunately the Mayor is tip-toeing around the CCOs. It’s a worry that he seems content they’ve so far only collectively contributed a paltry $10.4m of savings for next year’s budget. That is pathetic given the CCOs soak up a lot of the council’s $3b annual income and are responsible for 75% of council’s business.
“We need to keep the ‘council control’ in the CCOs, but this outrageous move was another example of how they’d prefer to operate on their own without political scrutiny. However what they seem to forget is they are spending public money and it’s us politicians who are publicly accountable.
“Let’s not forget that the CCOs collectively employ 564 people who earn over $100,000 which includes 82 people who earn over $200,000, according to council’s latest Annual Report. What’s more the seven CCO chief executives, 49 CCO directors, and other executives cost ratepayers $13.3 million in the past year.
“The CCOs hate fronting up to councillors. They will tell you that as will most councillors. Auckland Transport was burnt badly after the opening night of the Rugby World Cup, ATEED hated being hauled over the coals for the V8s at Pukekohe, and Regional Facilities Auckland despise being at the centre of the debate over Manukau’s proposed whitewater rafting facility as well as the controversial stadia review.
“They’d rather not have the regular public scrutiny, but fortunately they’re not always getting their way. They’re going to keep dreaming up ways to avoid fronting up to the politicians and public, and subsequently we can never let our guard down. We need to remember that Auckland ratepayers have demanded tighter control over the CCOs,” says Cameron Brewer.
Attached: Agenda, minutes and vote of the item, Accountability & Performance Committee, 8 November 2012.