The Super City proposal has been officially recommended amid tooth gnashing by many. I personally can’t see what is wrong with the two tier amalgamation plan, particularly when it promises more continuity for the region. The Auckland Super City reforms seem not to have done any harm, and for towns like Frankin the change has been positive.
One of the chief criticisms is the erosion of local democracy. This is hard to deny, but it is worth remembering that the low voter turnout in local elections shows that local democracy is already eroding by itself. It is worth striving to make things better rather than relying on the diminishing returns of the status quo. This would certainly be a major change, even a radical one, but the process has the benefit of the Auckland experience. In short, we can learn from their mistakes.
If Wellington is to maintain its pre-eminence as a major city, and the capital, the greater Wellington region needs to cohere. And I guess it would mean Nick Leggett would no longer be mayor of Porirua, assuming the position is abolished with the institution of local boards. That would give him the ability to run for Parliament, perhaps replacing Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, or Peter Dunne in Ohariu. He is a rising political star who could reach national prominence in a few short years.
What happens now is not exactly clear. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown thinks the issue should go straight to a referendum, if it does I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets rejected. Wellingtonians are great about advocating change for everyone except themselves, and a strong advertising campaign may be vital to get this across the line. Of course, the government could just ram the changes through withought seeking a mandate, we’ll have to watch Minister for Local Government Paula Bennett very closely for a hint.
Whatever happens, it won’t be the end of the world.