Third bill drafted for Auckland

A third bill is being drafted to complete the legislative framework for the reform of Auckland's governance, Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said today.

Mr Hide has already brought in two bills, the first covering the structure of the new council and the second the power and roles of the mayor, councillors and local board members.

The third bill will transfer Auckland's assets and liabilities to the new council, protect the interests of staff who move to it and give it the powers it needs to be up and running on November 1 next year.

It will also establish an independent statutory board for Maori participation.

The Maori Party fought hard for reserved Maori seats on the new council, but the Government turned it down.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the statutory board was "absolutely essential" for Maori involvement in council decisions.

"The council will have to take into account the advice of the board," he said.

"The board will provide a broad and open channel for their views to be communicated to the council and deliberated upon."

Dr Sharples said the Maori Party would continue to lobby for two reserved Maori seats.

There will also be a Pacific advisory panel for the council's first term. After that the council can decide its own arrangements for ethnic participation.

"After 50 years of meandering debate, a government has finally acted to meet the needs of Auckland," Mr Hide said.

"I will be proud to introduce the third bill before the end of the year."

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