Friday, 22 May 2009

Diversity Deficit: SuperCity Oligarchy

The Minister for Local Government that you appoint when you don't want to have any local government, Rodney Hide, has announced the transitional agency for the Auckland SuperCity, which Idiot/Savant has labelled an oligarchy.

Of the five people who will play a radical role in shaping the future of the Auckland SuperCity there is one woman, Queen's Counsel Miriam Dean. Here's a profile of Dean that I found via my friend Google:
Ms Dean is a senior barrister who specialises in commercial litigation and dispute resolution, with particular expertise in competition and consumer laws. She has previously served as Deputy Chair of the Commerce Commission, Director of the Competition Law and Policy Institute of New Zealand, member of the Civil Aviation Authority and Chair of Lawyers Engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

(Miriam is the woman in the blue jacket on the left)
Lots of experience, but I'm not seeing much in the area of local government or other areas that require high levels of community engagement. You can read a fuller CV here [PDF]; I'm getting a picture of someone very strong in the commercial law area, but this is more about public law, which is a different beast entirely.

The group is to be headed by someone with a conflict of interest the size of Cosseys Reservoir, namely Mark Ford, the CEO of the wholesale provided of much of Auckland's water, Watercare. But don't worry folks because he is going to stand down from that, and the chair role at the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, and assumedly leave any ambitions for a commercial monopoly in Auckland's water market in his old swivelly chair on his last day. /sarcasm

Here's Ford is all in his grey-headed suited glory:
Then we have accountant John Waller who currently heads the BNZ:

Mr Waller has vast commercial experience with more than 20 years involvement in mergers and acquisitions, corporate advisory services, business reviews and a wide range of corporate activities. He is also a member of the Takeovers Panel, on the PWC New Zealand Board, Chairman of the Eden Park Redevelopment Board for the Rugby World Cup 2011 and has been appointed to join the Fonterra Board in 2009. He has a Bachelor of Commerce and is a Chartered Accountant
Wayne Walden brings his experience as chair of Maori TV and running Farmers Deka to the table. I imagine there is some hope that he will be able to assuage the huge concerns Maori have about the proposed structure. I know basically nothing about him, and would be interested in readers thoughts.

And finally there's someone with actual local government knowledge from having been there and done that; John Law was mayor of Rodney (whose people want out of all this Super nonsense) in a past life:

(John is the guy on the right signing the car for reasons unknown to me)

So to steer the Great Ship of Auckland to an Exciting and Vibrant New Port, carrying all of its many and varied peoples on board to their final destination, where there will be ponies and broadband in every home and we shall all live in harmony and prosperity for every more, we have:
  • a competition lawyer,
  • a bank accountant,
  • an ex-mayor from one of the smaller components of the future Superness,
  • and two CEOs.
There's one Pakeha woman, one Maori man, and three white men of above average income and above average age.

I don't know where they all live yet, and will be interested to find out which of the current TLAs they hail from. But I do know that these five people do not look all that much like Auckland. Or rather they do look like the caricature of the Auckland region that some people have, based largely on perceptions of our CBD. Shame Epsom's Member for Parliament seems to think that is ok for determining the democratic future of Manukau, Waitakere, North Shore, Auckland, Franklin, Papakura and Rodney.

Diversity? U haz FAIL.


Cactus Kate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Idiot/Savant said...

They sure know how to run businesses.But this isn't a business - it's a government. It should at least look like the people its representing.

Oh wait - it does.

Anna said...

Cactus Kate, I've removed that comment because it was racially offensive. Please abide by the comments policy.

katy said...

"Shame Epsom's Member for Parliament ..."

Especially considering that Epsom is as multicutural as anywhere in NZ. I live in Parnell and we enjoy that none of our neighbours seem to be Anglophones, and bits of Newmarket and Epsom are of course extremely Asian, reflecting the diversity of other parts of the city.

Cactus Kate said...

Diversity? All I said was what you said in the post? I shall re-say it without any reference to minority groups you have already mentioned in your post.

I'm all for diversity as long as the diversity gained by spreading posts among race, gender or whatever, actually makes the boat go faster.

Auckland City is a business, a very LARGE business. This group are proven professional businesspeople. They can read a balance sheet, construct legal argument from 1000's of pages of legislation and reading.

I don't want to gain a position because I am female. I want to earn a position because I am one of the best (in this example) 5 people to do the job.

Cactus Kate said...


Surely this comment is ageist. Only old people have grey hair and you are showing prejudice against the man because he is old. Therefore breaching your own policy:

"Disagreement should be written in a manner that does not demean either party".

You have demeaned old people by virtue of their wearing of grey hair.

Alison said...

But why are middle-aged white men so often the best for the job Kate? Do you seriously dismiss any idea of systemic sexism/racism contributing to that?

And yes, Auckland city is a business, but that's by no means all it is - I don't deny for a second that they need a good businessperson or two in the team, but what about some of the other essential areas of local government. Urban design? Cultural affairs? Utilities? Being a top business guru doesn't automatically equip anyone to deal with those.

I am just so sad about this whole super-city change. I spent 3/4 of my life in Manukau, and I can't see how it could escape being disadvantaged by the new regime.

Penny said...

What THM is really saying is that there is not a whiff of a hard left feminist anywhere near the main decision making process.

Aucklanders are sighing a lot louder for this blessing, remember - Auckland voted AGAINST your policies and ideology.

Your inherent bias against men, grey headed men or anybody remotely successful that doesn't fall into your minority 5% viewpoint is sad. Really sad.

I'd rather people were there on true merit, and the people on this list are all truely successful Kiwis. You may not like it but each on of them has more talents in their little fingers than any of you have.

Grow up!

Anonymous said...

Last time I looked, Auckland wasn't a commune - and it was crying out for reform.

I don't think bringing in your choices will do AK any good - who would you choose instead of these five people anyway?

Suzy QT said...

This is all getting very silly. These people all look very qualified to turn Auckland into a supercity. It wouldn't be achieved by stacking it full of a certain type of people because we needed representation. The men and women in this group are all talented and you're being a little bullish by saying otherwise.

Have you met any of them? What do you really know apart from being ageist against one?

Julie, you're outdoing yourself again...didn't you get upset that Rankin had "lunch" with Sir Roger Douglas once? This post is even sillier than that.

Anna said...

It really all depends on the value you put on democratic representation. If you're comfortable with a third of the country being run without any democratic input, this option is probably as good as any. I personally think that democracy has quite a lot going for it, and I'd like to preserve it.

And Penny, THM doesn't 'think' anything. It's a blog, contributed to by a collection of bloggers who have different opinions. And Julie didn't say anything like what you've suggested in your 'paraphrasing'. If you can't discuss a post without misrepresenting it, can I respectfully suggest that you a) 'grow up' as you put it, or b) go somewhere else.

Deborah said...

I've got grey hair, Cactus Kate, 'though I colour it. How old do you think I am?

You know, I'm okay with the appointment of John Waller. Merging large organisations is a complex task, and it does seem useful to have someone on the board who has explicit experience in doing it.

But there's a whole series of issues to do with the politics of presence which this board, and the way it was appointed, does not address. I'll try to get something written about it over the weekend.

Paul said...

@Cactus Kate: "Auckland City is a business, a very LARGE business. This group are proven professional businesspeople. They can read a balance sheet, construct legal argument from 1000's of pages of legislation and reading."

Just to clear this up, Auckland City is not a businss; it is a local government. An example of a business is Moet & Chandon. Its purpose is to make a profit from the production of fizz. The purpose of Auckland City is the administration of Auckland, not the making of profit. This is an important distinction.

I hope this has been helpful.

Idiot/Savant said...

Auckland City is a business, a very LARGE business.I was going to call bullshit on this, but I see Paul has already made my key point for me: Auckland isn't about delivering a profit to shareholders - it is about giving effect to the will of its citizens. It is not about management - it is about representation. Sadly, too many people seem to be unable to distinguish between the two.

Cactus Kate said...

Auckland City is now being run as a business. You can't deny that, even if you don't like it. Get used to it.

Deborah - you colour your grey hair as to not appear older than you are to other people. Grey = old.

Alison - lets just eliminate all the middle-age white men from all forms of business on the basis of there being too many of them.

There's a Maori member of the five Mr Walden, therefore Maori have 20% representation already. The fact he isn't a basket weaver and has business experience however and everyone seems to forget this.

Anyway, this job isn't for basket weaving light-weights. The skills required are business related, reading financial statements, consolidation and re-structuring.

Why? Because Auckland City is now a business not a community charity with an endless pot of ratepayers money to play with.

stargazer said...

no kate, it isn't a business, but these 5 are supposed to turn in into one. because that works so well. so well in fact that we have collectively overpaid about $2billion to our power companies. yup, i'm sure aucklanders want more of that.

Anonymous said...

Ok - tell me why this isn't a business (as it seems that most others think it is) and also who would you elect as your 5 to turn this into the organisation it should be.

What else do you call something that will oversee the entire population of Auckland, it's assets, losses, businesses, planning...

Looks like a business! Not a commune kids. Bless you for being so naive about it :)

Paul said...

It has assets, therefore it is a business. But Save the Children has assets, as does the Anglican Church, the Government and communes. So these also are businesses; and what is not a business?

Anna said...

Are those who think Auckland is a business suggesting that there is no place for democratic process in running the city?

Presumably, if Auckland fills your definition of a business, NZ does too. Should we do away with elections in favour of an appointed board?

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me Anna. Hong Kong has a CEO and have low taxes and a lot wealthier economy than NZ. And everybody has excellent health care, education and savings.

I vote NZ goes that direction! And whats better - women are very successful there through hard work and ability and not tokenism! Amazing!! I want in!

Anna said...

You think successful NZ women have made it only through tokenism, Anon? I know quite a few women in Aotearoa who work hard and have ability. And I could name a few countries that don't have meaningful democracy or high-performing economies. Zimbabwe springs to mind.

katy said...

"Sounds good to me Anna. Hong Kong has a CEO and have low taxes and a lot wealthier economy than NZ. And everybody has excellent health care, education and savings."

Hong Kong is an interesting example to choose, being as it is a capitalist enclave within a communist superpower...

Julie said...

Interesting that some seem to think my mention of Ford's hair colour is ageist rather than descriptive...

However it does concern me that yet again we have a powerful group that is dominated by the usual suspects - white men who earn bags of dosh, work in management circles, and tend to be closer to 70 than 30. Are these the only types of people capable of responsibly and effectively wielding power in our society? No. So why are they so overrepresented in powerful groups such as these?

Our society is diverse. Auckland region is incredibly diverse. Yet the group making the decisions about the democratic future of Auckland is yet again a majority of the same type of people we so often see in these positions.

I would remind readers that any disagreeance or discussion about moderation decisions should be emailed to me for circulation to the Hand Mirror's writers. I'm still stuck in Welly but hope to be home tonight, as long as the weather allows.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you disappoint me! Zimbabwe is run by a man that supports policies that are not too disimilar from what many of TMH sympathise with - redistribution of wealth is an example.

It isn't capitalist, nor democratic. It would be like me telling you that Cuba was a good example of communism which we know is not true either :)

stargazer said...

sorry anon, even the national party believe in the redistribution of wealth to some extent. if not, why haven't they shut down WINZ and stopped all benefits? and they certainly would have stopped working for families as well. so according to your logic, the national party supports "many of the policies of zimbabwe".

see where tortured logic takes you.

Anna said...

Anon, I think you can do a little better than that in your argument. If you think THM bloggers support Mugabe, you're not reading very closely.

Anonymous said...

But Anna, you bought up Zimbabwe as an example - I have yet to see your rationale for it either.

THM does support a far larger scale redistribution of wealth than National/ACT propose - so without being too picky, my original point does kinda stand :)

stargazer said...

anon, if you can't see the rationale, it's because you need to go back and read your own comments. you give the example of hong kong as having a CEO in charge (ie presumably not a fairly elected leader) and so extrapolated that such an example would be successful in all situations. anna gave you an example where it is not successful.

and your original point continues to be crap, based on some very tortured logic.

Anna said...

Anon, your point was that better economic growth may result when democracy is dispensed with. I don't know enough about Hong Kong to know about either the strengths of its democratic institutions or economy, but there are plenty of examples of non-democratic regimes that haven't produced good economic outcomes. And there's no necessary correlation between having a formal democracy and redistribution of wealth, either. Totalitarian communist regimes have endeavoured to distribute wealth, as have elected social democratic regimes (eg in Scandinavia). Likewise, both formally formally democratic and non-democratic societies have opposed wealth redistribution.

So, to conclude: I actually don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

:) The feeling is mutual Anna and Anjum. Your points completely miss the boat. Auckland is a business and citizens will be thrilled to know they will have their rates used for the right reasons.

stargazer said...

and again anon, it's not a business because it is not an undertaking carried on with a view to making a profit. it is a social service provider, providing services that are unprofitable if they are carried on in a way that serves the whole population. privatising those services will mean that some people will miss out eg like how rural people miss out on broadband, because it is not profitable to provide services to those people.

which is why a commercial model for public services just don't work. although it would be useful to have one person on the council with business experience, it would be a huge mistake to have only people with business experience.