Auckland is broken

The theory of a super city had appeal.

Having regional and city councils under one umbrella and dismantling several councils to form a single local authority ought to have produced economies of scale.

The practice hasn’t lived up to the promise.

Instead it’s created a big, expensive and unresponsive bureaucracy, and like MMP, widened the distance between the people, their problems and their politicians.

Red tape has proliferated and regulations have become hurdles that get in the way of progress and action.

Quite how bad it is was proved on Friday evening.

Those of us watching news from a distance could only wonder at what transport authorities were thinking when they told people to drive to the Elton John concert because trains had been cancelled, then said buses would run at 10 minute intervals.

You don’t have to be good at numbers to work out that 40,000 people need more than 750 parks and it would take hundreds of buses hours to take them to and fro even if the weather was fine.

Anyone listening to the radio, watching the television news or following social media posts could see how bad problems were yet people with the authority to do something to help appeared to be bogged down in a bureaucratic morass from which no information could emerge.

Auckland’s Emergency Management and Auckland Transport both failed the city on Friday.

If residents can’t depend on the people paid to run their city to do what’s needed and communicate clearly in a crisis the people they’re paying aren’t doing their jobs properly.

No matter how good the city’s infrastructure was, it would have been inadequate to cope with Friday’s deluge. But had it been better would the problems have been so bad?

There have been on-going problems after much less rain for years. Would smaller councils closer to, and more regularly in touch with, local issues have done something to fix them sooner?

If there had been smaller, more local councils with staff and councillors more knowledgeable about, and more closely connected to, their communities,  would the response have been faster and better?

The answers to those questions might be debatable but the problems are clear and need not only answers but action that solves them.

There’s also questions about the role of central government which has been aware of the issues and done nothing to address them.

It is also responsible for widening councils’ remits to include nice to haves which has allowed them to take their eyes off their core functions including maintaining and improving roads and drains.

And two organisations under central government control failed on Friday. The civil defence mobile phone message warning system didn’t work either and Waka Kotahi staff signed off at about 7:15 leaving people with no idea which roads were safe and which weren’t.

How ironic that the agency that has spent so much on so many communications staff stopped communicating in an emergency.

Auckland is broken. The super city is anything but super and has proved that bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Breaking up the council into smaller ones could be part of fixing it.

But it’s not the only local government organisation with big problems.

All councils should be audited to ensure their infrastructure is up to the required standard and fit for purpose.

Then there’s climate change on which the deluge is being blamed.

The government and council have done a lot of talking and made fruitless attempts to reduce emissions, but neither have done anything about mitigation.

If this sort of weather will, as predicted, happen more often, central and local government must make preparing for it to reduce the damage it causes a priority.

8 Responses to Auckland is broken

  1. Colin Lucas says:

    Friday was interesting (and wet). Saturday and Sunday spent tediously mopping out a sodden office.
    Ponding on roads in places i didnt expect ponds. new lakes where ponding was expected, rivers where none existed before. Abandoned cars in places expected and unexpected.
    Institutional failures in no particular order.
    Auckland Emergency Management,
    Auckland Transport,
    Met Service
    Transit NZ
    Auckland Council,
    The leadership of the council.
    All of these failed to do their jobs in some way. Metservice warnings came too late.
    people were thinking of the long weekend, Transit signing off when the rain was bucketing down.
    All of these institutions need to have a good cold hard look at themselves to ensure that they become fit for purpose.


  2. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind.


  3. Gravedodger says:

    Great summary Ele, The Super City could still be of benefit, all that is required is to abandon socialist structures and solutions, revert to a far greater personal responsibility involvement, cease with the idealistic town planning. garbage and actually prevent building homes on flood prone areas however suitable for location proximity and convenience and cease with the “It must be somebody else’s fault mentality”.
    Also there must be a change of expecting Met service niwa or any other analytical organisation to accurately predict rainfall in meaningful accuracy, they told anyone who listened it was going to rain and could be excessive, that is everything expected, any more information will be horrendously expensive and will still not get it right.
    Why did the Trains get shut down when if light rail is an answer and I am far from being convinced that will ever be so, then that was a massive contributor to the Cluster F#&k.
    Yes the Bureaucracy failed bigly, I am told John Elton was in the air and on his way before the plebs who were standing in ankle deep water at the venue began to understand going home was overdue.
    Auckland Airport needs a review of its infrastructure far more before another dime is spent on the doomed to fail Light rail link, hell the airport is listed as a mere 20 odd feet above sea level.
    The rainfall claimed to have been 250 mm in 24 hours, (almost 70% of the total rain on my first farm in the first year of my farming career.) meant Auckland airport was dealing with (check my maths) over 5000000 cubic meters of water in 24 hours Friday/Saturday.


  4. Exactly the same will happen with Three Waters if allowed to proceed. The four mega water entities will be like four Auckland super cities with the same bureaucratic issues and failings associated with the centralization philosophy.


  5. […] of bureaucratic bungling in evidence around Auckland since last Friday — much of it arguably because of Rodney Hide’s super-sized bloody council (a predictable man-made disaster about whose formation I’m still angry). And much of it, […]


  6. Tom Hunter says:

    I see my post has linked here, but part of it was from Not PC’s blog who has always been opposed to the Super City.

    And although I recognise that he comes from a extreme Libertarian perspective (hell, he’s an Objectivist – a follower of Ayn Rand), the fact is that he was right by focusing on the foolishness of thinking that ever greater centralisation of government is not a solution in anything short of war.

    But here’s the thing – and apologies for bagging my fellow NM blogger:

    The Super City could still be of benefit, all that is required is to abandon socialist structures and solutions,

    That is not possible because Socialist structures and solutions are always reliant upon and driven by and driven to vast, centralised governing structures and institutions. That was Not PC’s point over a decade ago in his opposition to the Super City bullshit; it would enable socialism.

    And here’s the thing Ele: your National Party – and TBF Rodney Hide of ACT – did not or could not recognise that fact. Something made even worse by National’s insistence on the tradition of not taking part in local authority elections, something that allowed two Lefty, Labour-aligned Mayors in succession to rule the new Super City for twelve years, and then still get to blame the first RW Mayor in that time for this screwup.

    I’m sorry Ele, you’re a lovely lady, but your National party, for whom I have voted many times, is fucking useless at the real big picture. I’ve now reached the stage where I think only a Muldoon/1984 crisis is going to pull us out of this death dive.


  7. homepaddock says:

    Tom, your post linked here because Not PC’s post you linked to linked here. I think we’re headed for a 1984 crisis – too many people reliant on the state which has too much debt; too much centralisation; compounded by identity politics and red policies masquerading as green.


  8. […] Ele at Homepaddock in the wake of the flooding and the resulting chaos caused by the “weather bomb” that […]


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