Transformations of the State Scalar Architecture

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Chapter 4 Shaping Auckland’s Urban Form

The purpose of this Chapter is to explore how Auckland’s urban form is shaped by central and local government. In order to do this, the Chapter will discuss the transformations of the state scalar architecture of spatial planning Auckland as observed in a) the structural changes to local government in New Zealand, and b) the evolving scalar referent of urban planning and resource management. Informed by state rescaling theory (Brenner, 2009a), this discussion is based on the understanding that both types of transformations have shaped the governance of spatial planning in Auckland, and consequently, decisions around policy mechanisms to shape urban form. Interpretive observations of structural changes and policy shifts were generated by the thematic analysis and discourse analysis undertaken as outlined in Chapter 3. Grounded in the two-tier methodological strategy proposed by Brenner (2009a), I trace how New Zealand’s state spatial form has been transformed over the past 50 years, specifically in terms of the institutional changes and policy shifts which have had a bearing on how central and local government shape urban form, and discuss relevant contextual elements. By identifying nature and evolution of discourses over time (both in terms of structural and thematic developments) in politico-institutional terms, this Chapter identifies and organises the prominent discursive elements in a state rescaling framework. The generation of this detailed framework enables a closer inspection of the intergovernmental discursive tensions surrounding Auckland’s most recent spatial planning episode and urban containment policy; which constitutes the conceptual purpose of Chapter Five. The Chapter begins with a description of how the scalar configuration of Auckland has been qualitatively modified throughout the years. This description is followed by a discussion of current central government discourses around local government restructuring and urban planning reform, and the themes which emerge from the current government’s broader objectives for New Zealand, to which Auckland is viewed as a vital contributor. An analysis of central-local government perspectives on local governance exposes a discursive rift between the two tiers of government, characterised by conflicting discourses around where decision-making responsibility should lie in urban planning and development. The Chapter finishes with a review of the specific objects of analysis based on Brenner’s (2009a) two-tier methodology, followed by a discussion of the kind of insights foundational state rescaling theoretical frameworks provide for understanding Auckland’s state scalar architecture for spatial planning.

Transformations of the State Scalar Architecture

The two-tier methodological approach to analysing transformations to Auckland’s state scalar architecture articulated by Brenner stems from his (and others) acknowledgment that previous case-study based reflections have lacked sufficient systematic analysis of concrete level rescaling processes, and the discontinuities and path dependencies associated with national institutional trajectories and policy repertoires. It has also been argued that governance of spatial planning must be studied in the context of structural changes, where politics are kept “front and center” in the analysis (Newman, 2008: 1373). This section is a somewhat descriptive account of the institutional reorganisation of local government and policy trajectory of spatial planning in Auckland, followed by a more critical discussion of themes that have been identified in the discourse, including public statements, interviewee comments, and government documents.

Institutional reorganisation of local government

The ‘two-tier’ local governance approach was introduced to Auckland in 1963 in an attempt to overcome the parochialism that had plagued Auckland’s fragmented local government framework since the 1870s (Memon et al., 2007). Consequently, Auckland’s local authorities were restructured into a single Auckland Regional Authority, a number of ad hoc special purpose bodies, and 30 territorial authorities responsible for strictly local services. This regional authority was responsible for cross-boundary services including regional planning, and public and private transport, metropolitan regional planning and infrastructure service delivery (Memon et al., 2007). After a period of relative 2stability, the next wave of functional and structural reform of local government occurred under the Fourth Labour Government (1984-1990), along with significant other public sector economic and political reform, which Boston considered “the most sweeping reorganisation of the machinery of government even undertaken in New Zealand” (Boston, 1991a: at the time. The economic policy reforms during this period were led by liberal democrat Minster of Finance, Roger Douglas, and were characterised by market-led restructuring and deregulation. These (often controversial) ‘Rogernomics’1 of the late 1980s were a response to multiple forces: fiscal imperatives due to international indebtedness and economic stagnation; the quest for greater bureaucratic and political accountability; widespread political enthusiasm for commercialisation and A portmanteau of « Roger » and « economics », the term was coined by journalists at the New Zealand Listener as an analogy to ‘Reaganomics’ in the United States. Source: Wikipedia. 2012. Rogernomics [Online]. Available: [Accessed January 8, 2013]. privatisation, as well as a general ideological shift to the right and appetite for reform, both in New Zealand and abroad (Boston, 1991b). Indeed, the changes to New Zealand’s economic policies were largely reflective of the broad neo-liberal ideological shift that much of the world was already experiencing (Harvey, 2005). Perhaps most importantly to note, the guiding analytical framework of departmental officials and policy analysts at the time was grounded in public choice theory, managerialism, agency theory and transaction-cost analysis (Boston, 1988b; Hood, 1990), collectively referred to as “new institutional economics” (Larner, 2000: 7).The economic reform of the 1980s directly influenced many of the structural reforms that followed (Boston, 1991a), including those relating to local government. The introduction of the Local Government Act 1989 by then-Minister of Local Government, Michael Bassett saw the establishment of a revised ‘two-tier’ structure of local government, and Auckland’s 31 existing authorities were replaced with four city councils, three district councils and one regional council. This new arrangement was considered necessary to enable the delegation of new resource management functions to the local government level (Bassett, 1988: 4; Boston, 1988a: 67). In addition to structural changes, the new Act replaced sections of the LGA 1974 that related to local government’s organisational and accountability requirements, as well as its constitutional and electoral basis; the focus of local government was widened from service provision only to include planning and policy development; and a clear separation between governance and management was introduced (Drage, 2011: 12). The incoming Fourth National Party (1990-1998) worked quickly to undo the reform to local government that had been established by the Labour Government. Then-Minister of Local Government, Warren Cooper, was particularly opposed to a regional government level, in favour of dual-function unitary authorities with limited socio-economic functions instead (Ericksen et al., 2004); an overwhelmingly functionalist view of local government (Reid, 2001). Minister Cooper “feared a strong Auckland, and emasculated the proposed strong regional council” (Rudman, 2009) by facilitating the Local Government Amendment Act 1992. This Act limited the role of regional councils to environmental management and regulation, with few exceptions (Reid, 2009). The Regional Council’s major assets and liabilities, primarily bulk water and wastewater and the Ports of Auckland, were transferred to a special purpose body created for the purpose, and it was effectively excluded from a role in economic and community development (McKinley Douglas Ltd., 2010a). At the time, these reforms were viewed by then-Local Government New Zealand Strategy Leader, Mike Reid, as “a transformation on a par with the abolition of the provinces in the 19th Century” (Reid, 2001), yet, as will be discussed later, he was to re-evaluate this statement within the next 10 years. The Fifth Labour Government (1998-2008) once again embarked on a programme of local government reform, this time embedded within the discursive rationale of increased local government empowerment to meet community needs, and enhanced intergovernmental partnership (Reid, 2001). Reid (2001) observes out that these objectives were consistent with the domestic and international discourses of ‘joined up’ services and ‘whole of government’ approaches in vogue at the time (Le Heron, 2009). Concurrently to the reform, a central-local government forum was established in March 2000, and Cheyne (2008) recounts that there was a new expectation that central government agencies engage in local authority community planning processes. Labour’s Local Government Act (2002) rewrote the purpose of local government to (a) enable democratic decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and (b) to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and in the future. Tiley (2010) argues that this period of local government reform was permeated by ‘Third Way’ politics, which emphasised democratic renewal and increased local autonomy through devolution of responsibility to local authorities, the introduction of various social reforms and the provision of general powers to promote community wellbeing. While some observed that the 2002 legislation did not explicitly provide full powers of general competence to local government (Cheyne, 2008: 40), Tiley contends that the power to promote wellbeing was, in effect, a power of general competence (2010: 23). Sellars and Lindstrom (2007) propose that moves to empower local government and enhance intergovernmental relations were consistent with the discourses of devolution and decentralisation that were prevalent in Social Democratic welfare states at the time, though it has also been argued that these local government consolidations were enacted for the purposes of administrative efficiencies rather than improved democracy (Dollery et al., 2005: 11-12). Arguably, concern for the “four wellbeings” also demonstrated alignment with the burgeoning global sustainability discourse of that period (Dryzek, 1997). Local government interest in sustainability as a development concept and planning ethos was evident in the thematic rhetoric embedded within the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy (ARGF, 1999) and Regional Policy Statement (ARC, 1999), and Auckland Sustainability Framework (RGF, 2007) produced by Auckland’s regional and local authorities at the time. The Fifth Labour Government also set up The Royal Commission on Auckland Governance (RCAG) in 2007, tasked with examining Auckland’s governance structure and recommend a structure that would make Auckland an internationally competitive city (Reid, 2009). The establishment of RCAG was the culminating event at the end of nearly a decade of calls to resolve Auckland’s governance ‘problem’. This problem was characterised by central government frustration at the lack of unified, regionally consistent local government voice, and the inability to engage with multiple councils to develop Auckland economically as a ‘world class city’ (McNeill, 2011a; Reid, 2009). Part of this fragmentation was thought to stem from the two-tier structure itself, manifest in tension between socio-economically driven development at the territorial level, and the restriction of development through the regulation of effects on the natural environment at the regional level (Elliot, 1992: 17). The establishment of Royal Commissions on Local Government by central government is an act that serves (or attempts) to legitimize the state-led process (Tiley, 2010), and these types of Commissions have similarly preceded local government reform in Britain and Australia, invariably resulting in recommendations of wide ranging reform measures including the need to reduce the number of municipalities and establish large, unitary (one-tier) municipal governments, or two-tier systems that include expansive regional authorities to oversee smaller territorial bodies. After 18 months, the Commission publically released their report, recommending a fundamental rebalancing of public policy decision-making, and a much stronger, integrated relationship between levels of government. Along with the recommendation for a unitary Auckland Council and six local councils, one of the dominant themes throughout the report was the need for a more integrated approach across the four well-being areas: social, economic, environmental and cultural (Reid, 2009). The Commission sought to ensure that Auckland Council would be able to focus primarily on the strategic challenges facing the region as a whole, and proposed that their role would be regional and district planning; infrastructure planning and investment (public transport, roads, water and waste water); economic and social development; and environmental protection (Reid, 2009: 41). By this time, the National Party had replaced Labour as government, and their response to the Commission’s recommendations were released within two weeks, encompassed in a document titled Making Auckland Greater: greater communities; greater connections; greater value (New Zealand Government, 2009a), and simultaneously laid out the new blueprint for Auckland governance. Numerous Commission recommendations were rejected and alternatives put into place, including the creation of 20-30 local wards instead of six local councils. This latest suite of proposed changes to local governance was now the biggest restructuring of Auckland’s governance since the removal of the provinces in the mid-1870s (Reid, 2009). Critics of the reforms argue that the two-tier structure as established by the government will result in unfavourable representation ratios, as elected members will represent significantly more citizens than previous councils, leading to a diminution of citizen’s democratic rights (McKinlay Douglas Ltd., 2010a; Reid, 2009). The Government response to this argument was that local boards will have greater decision-making power than the previous community boards (though less than local councils), and thus better represent community voice (Reid, 2009). A series of acts were passed by the National Government: the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Act 2009, the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009, and the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010, and as a result of these pieces of legislation the newly-formed Auckland Council began operating on November 1, 2010. The current Council thus represents a completely new model of regional government made up of two complementary and non-hierarchical decision-making parts: the governing body (elected Mayor, councillors elected on a ward basis) and the elected local boards (McNeill, 2011a). Len Brown was elected as Mayor in the October 2010 local elections after securing a 60,198 vote majority over rival candidate John Banks (Orsman, 2010). By virtue of the size of his constituency, the new Mayor has a very clear public mandate (McNeill, 2011b), and the new ‘Super City’ represents a similarly unique and unprecedented arrangement in New Zealand’s local governance landscape. The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill of 2010 effectively devolved responsibility for major services to the Council-Controlled Organisations (CCOs), which received the combined functions and asset management roles of local authorities and previous organisations. Seven Auckland CCOs were approved by Cabinet2, and these are companies, trusts or other forms of separate entity which are controlled by Auckland Council in the form of the right to appoint 50% or more of the board or exercise 50% or more of the vote at any general meeting of members. While Councils had been able to establish CCOs since the enactment of the LGA 2002, and Auckland had over 40 CCOs operating in the region prior to the reorganisation, a distinctive feature of the new CCOs is that virtually all service delivery for Auckland will now take place through them. Additionally, their first chairmen were appointed by the government through the Auckland Transition Agency, outside of the influence of the elected governing body (McKinglay Douglas Ltd, 2010a). Critics and academics alike have highlighted concerns over the potential loss of democratic control over the CCOs, which operate at arm’s-length from the new governing body, and the lack of transparency and public accountability provided by the new arrangement (McNeill, 2011b). In response to these concerns, then-Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide stated that Auckland Council’s CCOs will be the most accountable of any in the country: “The Auckland Council will determine their Statements of Intent, and can dismiss directors or disestablish the CCO entirely if the Council’s wishes are not carried out » (Hide, 2010a), referring to the accountability and transparency requirements of the Local Government (Auckland Council Amendment) Act 2010 (2010b). Crucially, however, this provision excludes Auckland Transport and Watercare; meaning transport decisions are the sole domain of the CCO and therefore not subject to any public scrutiny through public board meetings, nor the requirement to publish agendas and minutes.


Ongoing modifications to local government structure and function

The Minister of Local Government announced an eight point reform programme for local government on March 19, 2012, entitled Better Local Government (BLG) (Cabinet, 2012). The Department of Internal Affairs states that the reforms “are aimed at providing better clarity around the role of councils, stronger governance, improved efficiency and more responsible financial management” and are “part of the Government’s broader programme for building a more productive, competitive economy and better public services” (2012a), echoing prevalent themes throughout the current government’s policies. This reform programme led to the introduction of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment 2012, which was passed in December 2012. The amended Act introduces a raft of changes to the way councils are governed and the process for reorganising local government, and introduces new financial prudence requirements (DIA, 2012a). Section 3(d) of the Local Government Act 2002 was also amended, replacing the purpose of local government (“to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities”) with the new purpose “to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses” (New Zealand Government, 2012). This amendment means that councils will have to ensure that their decision-making processes deal with matters pertinent to the new purpose. However, “because the Auckland spatial plan was developed for the whole of Auckland, including the council, the private sector and the government, and has a broader perspective, it will not be affected by the new purpose statement” (DIA, 2012a), although the Council work plans will have to align with the new purpose. The Auckland Council planners interviewed do not expect that the (then3) future changes to local government purpose would have much effect on the extent to which Council is concerned with the four wellbeings: [Changes to the purpose would simply call into question] whether or not we become actively involved in pursuing social policies to address those issues. (Interviewee B) We have a statutory duty to prepare an Auckland Plan with respect to the four wellbeings… so as far as we’re concerned [the Better Local Government paper] doesn’t affect our plan at all. (Interviewee A) Another significant change to local governance arrangements is the trigger for potential Ministerial intervention in local government matters, which is now broadly dependent on “a failure by a local authority to demonstrate prudent management in its financial dealings” (Ash et al., 2012). Political opponents, in this case Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage, has argued that this move “sets a very low threshold for Ministerial interference, and gives the Minister wide scope to intervene and push central government priorities” (Sage, 2012), with potentially little regard for local objectives. The second phase of the BLG reform programme consists of six further work streams: an efficiency taskforce, an expert advisory group on local government infrastructure efficiency, a review of the use of development contributions, a framework to guide the allocation of regulatory roles between local and central government, investigation of a dual or two-tiered governance model for local government, and development of options for a performance framework for local government (DIA, 2012a). These work streams will feed into a second Amendment Act anticipated in late 2013, indicating that local government can expect yet more modifications to how it is governed and, in turn, how it may govern

Chapter 1. Introduction
1.1 Situating the research
1.2 The Case Study and its Significance
1.3 Research Objectives
1.4 Thesis Overview
Chapter 2. Understanding Institutional & Policy Change
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Approaching the Complexity of Spatial Planning Episodes
2.3 The State Rescaling Lens
2.4 Moving Beyond State Rescaling: Internal Dynamics of Policy Making
2.5 Local Governance Dichotomies and Constructive Engagement with the Rescaling Literature
2.6 Discursive Linkages between Local Governance Models, Urban Planning and Spatial Planning Policy
2.7 Conclusion
Chapter 3. Methodology
3.1 Introduction to Chapter
3.2 Justification of Approach
3.3 Research Design
3.4 Method
3.5 Data Analysis
3.6 Positionality and Assumptions
3.7 Ethical Practice
3.8 Summary
Chapter 4. Shaping Auckland’s Urban Form
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Transformations of the State Scalar Architecture
4.3 Policy Trajectory of Spatial Planning: Contemporary Urban Planning Reform
4.4 Central Government Objectives for Auckland
4.5 The Auckland Spatial Plan: A Delicate Balance of Risk and Opportunity
4.6 Central-Local Government Perspectives on Local Governance: A Discursive Rift
4.7 Through the Lens of Early State Rescaling Theory
4.8 Conclusion
Chapter 5. Journey to a Compact City
5.1 Introduction to chapter
5.2 Urban containment policies in Auckland: Evolving rationale for an enduring goal
5.3 Current Central Government Perspective on Urban Containment
5.4 The Endurance of the Compact City Model & Local Government Discursive Agility
5.5 At the Nexus of Urban Containment Tensions and Changes to the Scalar Dimension of
Governance: Lessons from Auckland and the Conceptual Contribution of ContemporaryState Rescaling Frameworks
5.6 Conclusion
Chapter 6. Conclusion
6.1 Key Findings
6.2 Empirical Contributions
6.3 Limitations & Opportunities for Future Research Agendas
6.4 Concluding Thoughts: An Uncertain Future for the ‘Quality Compact’, ‘Liveable’ City

Understanding Intergovernmental Tensions around Urban Containment: A Case Study of Auckland through a State Rescaling Lens

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