Is the fear of central government taking over and forcing amalgamation of local councils valid or is the fear of Wellington losing political influence to Auckland the main driver?
There needs to be a very carefully considered process before any dramatic changes are made. In any case, we have our own example being created; we should wait to see how successful and expensive Auckland's super-city is before we rush into repeating the exercise, or errors.
Before dashing into any change of local government, there needs to be much more consultation with the regional communities.
Why is the "big bang" of amalgamation needed when years of research show that amalgamation of local bodies do not save money and the cost of actual amalgamation can be enormous (redundancy, new premises, stationery, computer systems, new positions and salaries . . .).
At this stage all the options for councils working together have been fully considered or costed. There are alternatives available for Wellington, such as consolidation of some authorities, voluntary amalgamation, of shared services. Shared services cover a very wide range of possibilities, from procurement to back office services such as accounts and IT; major infrastructure and regionally based environmental planning and advocacy. In some cases, shared services has included councils sharing a single chief executive and perhaps a whole senior management team.
It's an approach which allows councils to deal with one issue at a time, rather than forcing everything into one solution, as with a forced amalgamation.
There is also the question of cost: the standard practice of increasing costs to meet increased demands is no longer sustainable, especially with an ageing population.