Opinion by Councillor Cameron Brewer
Aucklanders have just two weeks to have their say on up to $30m of ratepayers’ money being spent on a whitewater rafting facility in Manukau, with public submissions to the Auckland Council’s 2013/14 Draft Annual Plan closing 4pm, Monday 25 February.
Both the project and the process are an insult to the many ratepayers who face significant rates increases again this year. Concerned Aucklanders should have their say against the project, but it will be hard to stop as the Mayor currently has the numbers around the council table.
It will be terrible if this pet project manages to leapfrog its way into the council budget. It was resoundingly voted down by the previous Manukau City Council and was not part of Auckland Council’s 10-year Long Term Plan which the public was consulted on in good faith just last year.
It’s outrageous it has been dropped into the draft annual plan and unless enough Aucklanders say no way, this much needed public money is set to be piled into converting a South Auckland paddock into rapids. It’s crazy stuff when you consider we’re a country of rivers, and the council is borrowing nearly $3m a day. It’s hardly a priority.
Official correspondence shows the Mayor’s office heavily involved in getting it back on the council’s agenda, despite the Mayor’s well known and appropriately declared conflict of interest.
The Mayor doesn’t personally attend the meetings but nonetheless his office is up to its eyeballs in this. Imagine if John Banks was mayor and his political mates and financial backers were wanting to flog off public land in Remuera and spend the proceeds on their own pet project, there would be a human outcry and rightly so. We’ll that’s exactly what’s about to happen in Manukau.
The reality is a lot of Aucklanders will miss the current consultation round simply because of the wonderful summer we’re having, which is of course perfect for the likes of the Mayor in election year. Ratepayers against this pet project will need to seriously mobilise in the next fortnight. This is the only chance we’ve got to stop it.