Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Auckland scores No 12 on Economist City liveability index

Economist City Livability Index
The Economist Livability's Index can be controversial, especially in the way it manages to consistently downplay the big USA legend cities like San Fransisco, et al

They have also consistently given big marks to Canada - Northern Europe , and Australasia. For example three Australian cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth. make the 1o

The Methodology
The Index covers 140 cities. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

The categories are compiled and weighted to provide an overall rating of 1–100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.

New Zealand has done more than okay. Auckland scores No 12. Wellington, 23. Naturally Wellington is being generous if a little sniffy.

Rodney Hide and the Auckland city thing
All of which will be a nice piece of boosterism for Auckland, Especially as the current Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, from the neo liberal ACT party, and minor coalition partner to John Key's ruling National Party, has effortlessly scared the living bedesus out of the liberal intelligentsia, and others, including me, by scoring Cabinet endorsement to a review of the Local Government Act, 2002

Social, cultural , environmental, economic wellbeing
Apart from any other plans he has yet to reveal, he is going after the apparently obscure clause in the Act , which tasks local governments to ensure ' community well being' outcomes - which are defined as having four dimensions - environmental , social, economic and cultural.

And then there was one
He wants the intent of this clause reduced to a single economic well being/outcome, and that local authorities should restrict themselves to core services, in the likes of transport, water, roads, infrastructure, et al, all of which is in keeping with the ACT party's key policies.

The effect on public libraries - art galleries - community centres
Given that all local authorities must have enabling legislation [the ultra vires rule] to allow them do anything, the effect of this will be to pull out one of the main supporting pillars which empower local authorities to fund social housing, social services, public libraries, art galleries, museums, parks, recreation/community centres etc.

That Economist Index again
But there's the rub - apart from the small fact that the ACT party and Rodney Hide have no electoral mandate to pursue this scorched earth policy, just what, in a modern connected world constitutes the core services for a world class city which make up the quality of life specified in the Economist index?

The Methodology of a modern connected vibrant city?
The methodology of the Economist Index costs US $250 to find out, here. I suspect that old familiar 'man on the Clapham omibus', or the Bondi tram, [#] could tell us for free. In their absence, here in Auckland, perhaps we can tell Rodney Hide direct?


At the direction of the Minister of Local Government - i.e. Rodney Hide, the Department of Internal Affairs, DIA, has posted the relevant cabinet papers:

" The paper proposes a review of local authority transparency, accountability and financial management mechanisms. It encompasses mechanisms for strategic planning, financial management, accountability to ratepayers and citizens, and ratepayer and citizen participation in decision-making.
  • Cabinet paper EGI (09) 44 - 6 April 2009 (.pdf) 620k
    Improving Local Government Transparency, Accountability and Fiscal Management
  • EGI Min (09) 6/10 - 8 April 2009 (.pdf) 80k
    Minute of Decision of the Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee
  • Cab Min (09) 13/6 - 20 April 2009 (.pdf) 85k
    Minute of Decision of Cabinet (Report of the work of the Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee: Period Ended 17 April)

Other sources.
As can be expected, there is a mile of local comment on the reappearance of the ACT neo-liberal agenda.

Among those worth reading to date, are:

1. Gordan Campbell in Scoop, here
" Rodney Hide’s agenda for local government involves – as Scoop reported six months ago – the importation of an American model that has resulted in drastic cutbacks in the public services provided by local government, and the privatization of some current services as a result. Colorado and California are two fairly chilling examples of what Hide has in mind. This agenda is outlined in a Cabinet paper whose contents are being wheeled into place in New Zealand under the cover of sweet-sounding terms like ‘greater transparency’ and ‘more accountability’... " more

2. Russell Brown - Hard News
RB in a lovely piece, Rodney's Folly neatly recaps the history of the neo-right in NZ by quoting one of its older mentors, Doug Myers from 2008, and his own response, here.

" I'm afraid it stops there for me and Doug Myers, however. I'm surprised there hasn't been more attention paid to the thinkpiece on local government that he wrote for the Herald last week. Amid a lot of the usual Business Roundtable mumbo-jumbo - some of it really quite contradictory - he declared that libraries are not a public good.

While local government's building of sewers benefited him personally, it enriched him not a bit if his brother man read a book, said Myers. Yes folks, he was actually calling for an end to public libraries as we know them ... more ..."

Incidentally, like many a successful NZ capitalist before him, Doug Myers moved to Europe some years ago. No doubt he enjoys the opera, art galleries, museums, and public spaces built through the public purse! Three of them are in the Economist top 10. Funny old world!


Paul said...

The NZ Herald article is nonsensical hubris. It is not the "12th best city in the world" at all. All we can say is it ranked 12th on some think-tank's ratings of 140 selected world cities.

The definition of what constitutes a city varies around the world, but at the very least there are thousands of cities. Almost certainly there will be some unconsidered options that would score at least as highly as Auckland.

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