Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
National has seized control of the proposed fast-tracking of Auckland Council’s unitary plan by giving itself the power to appoint the plan’s hearings panel, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“National has unilaterally decided it will oversee appointments to the hearings panel for Auckland’s unitary plan. That gives the Government extraordinary power over the fast-tracking of the planning process for our largest city and shows National’s true centralising colours.
“Given National’s hostility to Len Brown’s plan for a quality compact city and ambitious public transport agenda you have to worry they will stack the panel with people unsympathetic to the Mayor’s vision.
“This is Auckland’s unitary plan but in rejecting the Council’s proposal for a joint appointment process the Government clearly does not trust Auckland’s elected Council to decide who goes on the panel.
“With this Government it is all about control, especially when it comes to local government. We have seen it with the suspension of elections for Environment Canterbury, with the local government legislation just passed, the transport bill before the House, and now the hijacking of Auckland’s plan.
“Labour has signalled qualified support for the fast tracking of the unitary plan. We want to see Auckland Council get on and tackle the city’s housing crisis and not be delayed year after year. However, we do have concerns about whether the Government’s proposed changes will actually deliver the plan in a timely fashion or whether unforeseen legal wrangles will tie it up and deliver worse outcomes for Auckland.”