NAG fights on in High Court

Bill Townson, right, at the NAG AGM. He remains hopeful that a binding referendum on the future of North Rodney is still an option.

Northern Action Group (NAG) will continue its fight in the High Court to secure an independent North Rodney.

The vow to fight on was made at NAG’s ninth annual general meeting held at Totara Park Retirement Village in Warkworth on June 18. About 30 people attended.

NAG is appealing a Local Government Commission (LGC) decision in November 2017 to keep North Rodney within the Auckland Supercity.

The commission ruled that a North Rodney unitary Council favoured by NAG was not a viable option.

It said unitary councils must fulfil a broad sweep of functions, including sensitive environmental management, and the cost of funding all these functions was prohibitive.  

But NAG committee member Bill Foster told the meeting that NAG believed there was “moral justice” in continuing to see the appeal through.

“We sincerely believe the commission should be held to account for the way in which it has used legislation for its own purposes, rather than the purposes of the communities the legislation says it should be supporting,” he said.

The High Court in Wellington is due to hear the case at the end of September.

Mr Foster said one of the points NAG was appealing was the fact that the LGC used its own model of what a North Rodney unitary council would look like rather than the version suggested by NAG.

Moreover, he said the LGC had ignored a report by APR Consultants, commissioned by NAG, that said a Rodney unitary authority was a “reasonably practical option”.

“We have felt all along that the commission had made up its mind in advance that the North Rodney unitary council was never going to happen and the de-amalgamation was not to be approved,” Mr Foster said.

But Mr Foster conceded that even if NAG won its appeal, the court could not rule that the LGC reverse its decision.

The best that could be hoped for is that the LGC would be directed to reconsider NAG’s application for an independent North Rodney, a process which previously took more than two years.

Meanwhile, NAG chair Bill Townson told the meeting he had not given up on securing a binding referendum on the future of North Rodney.

He said Rodney’s National MP Mark Mitchell had agreed to put forward a private member’s bill calling for a referendum to be held, if NAG could secure support for such a bill from the NZ First caucus

Mr Townson had hoped to hear from NZ First MP Tracey Martin last week on whether such support would be forthcoming, but had not heard anything by the time Mahurangi Matters went to press.

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