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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Revenge of der über stadt

So the Auckland Council's Maori board is going to take the Council to court over funding:

The Auckland Council also voted tonight to write to the Government to ask it to interpret the meaning of the legislation setting up the Council and the Board.

The Board’s chairman, David Taipari, said only the courts could interpret the law and they were the proper and responsible place to seek clarification over any legislation.

“In our view, the legislation that set up the Board was quite clear: the Council must reach a Funding Agreement with the Board by 15 February and meet the reasonable costs of the Board’s operations, secretariat, and independent advisors,” Mr Taipari said.

“Our reading of the law is that, if our proposed costs are reasonable, the Council has no discretion about meeting those costs, so that tonight’s Council decision is most probably in breach of the law.”

Mr Taipari said the Board had taken significant steps to ensure its cost estimates were reasonable.

He said the Board sought the help of an independent consultant, who has worked with Council officers since mid-December to identify the reasonable level of funding needed for the Board to meet its statutory obligations.

I am not surprised in the least that the board is under Council pressure and under media pressure and that it has come to this - as I said last May when the final Bill was being rammed through parliament:

that whole advisory committee is set up to fail. By fail I don't just mean because the groups who are supposed to make up the committee are against the concept of the committee and might boycott the committee I mean because the whole idea is a sham.

The Iwi leaders since decided to collaborate with the Crown vehicle (as they would be left out otherwise) and now the wheels have fallen off it after only a few months. What Maori want to do with the type of board they have been assigned and how that interacts with the Council was never going to be what Pakeha wanted to do with the board and the Council - the Act created this tension.

The lines of accountability and responsibility between board and Council in the Act are hopelessly conflicted - and far beyond just the democratic deficit. It is supposed to be "independent" but the board is dependent entirely on the Council for everything: resources, staffing, funding. It was designed to fail and this first hiccup is proof it is already failing.

The work load and issues of the Maori board may warrant a cost much more than what even the first budget estimate was, but when it gets to Council it's all politics. From C&R's perspective it's a token board that only merits a token amount of funding and they will reflexively oppose it. But funding it adequately won't solve the other conflicts inherent with the board as the Act defines it, and there will be problems whether the amount is $5 or $5 million because it was set up wrong on purpose.


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