It’s a privilege to have been elected by Aucklanders to serve another term as mayor.
One of my first priorities is to ensure that the council-controlled organisations are made more accountable to Auckland Council and ratepayers.
While the CCOs have accomplished a lot of good work, there is concern that the model imposed by central government in 2010 paid too little attention to issues of responsiveness and accountability of the agencies deliberately set up at arm’s length from council. The CCOs are funded from public revenue and they must be fully accountable.
Ten years after the new council structures were created is a good time to examine what has worked well and what hasn’t. I plan to have a full and independent review of the council-controlled organisations underway before Christmas. It will be comprehensive and wide-ranging, and will identify changes to enhance oversight and enable the council to exercise a proper level of control over the organisations. The terms of reference will be developed with councillors over the coming weeks and I will keep Aucklanders updated on the outcome.
I am confident that the review will result in a more effective council group that is fully capable of responding to the challenges our city faces.
These challenges are growing. We need to continue to increase infrastructure investment to cope with rapid population growth. One consequence of not building sufficient infrastructure to cope with population growth in the past is Auckland’s biggest problem – traffic congestion.
Transport projects like the Eastern Busway, Rosedale and Hibiscus Coast bus stations will be complete by the end of this term of council.
Work is due to start on the Hibiscus Coast Bus Station in early November and be complete by December 2020. The station will provide the Hibiscus Coast with a modern facility to meet the growing demand for public transport, and will feature a retail kiosk, ticket and top-up machines, toilets, and waiting areas that will be well lit and protected from the elements.
In the longer term, projects such as the City Rail Link will improve transport across the region, increasing the capacity of the public transport network and helping to reduce traffic congestion for those who do choose to drive.
Improving public transport will help us follow through with our declaration of a climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions. We will also continue to invest in our environment so it is sustained and protected for future generations. This includes building on my Million Trees programme by planting another 1.5 million native trees and shrubs across Auckland to green our city and capture carbon emissions.
The $1.2 billion Central Interceptor, which is now underway, and projects to separate stormwater from wastewater, will ensure that sewage no longer flows into our harbour and waterways when it rains.
Other environmental projects are underway to eradicate pests and ensure that our native plant and animal species are protected from introduced predators and diseases such as kauri dieback.
To address the pressures of population growth and housing unaffordability, we will continue to consent new houses at record levels. In the year to August, we consented 14,345 dwellings, 94 percent of which were within the Rural Urban Boundary – demonstrating that Auckland is growing up instead of just out. While there is still work to do to address Auckland’s housing pressures, these figures show the progress we are making.