More RWC Finger Pointing – whose fault is it anyway??

So far with this RWC opening night aftermath, people have  are split into two camps with the blame game with the RWC Opening Night. Either, a) it’s Loony Len Brown’s fault – Council in charge, he’s in charge of the Council, ergo his fault; or b) It’s Murray McCully’s fault – He was the cheerleader for ‘Party Central’ which could only hold 12,000 – his idea, ergo his fault. I would like to humbly suggest a new target for the finger pointing: c) It’s Rodney Hide’s fault for creating the Super City CCO model that created the organisational structure that failed so badly on Friday night.

The first thing people need to understand about this is that Friday night’s event was NOT organised by the Auckland Council OR the government as is popularly perceived to be the case. It was organised by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), a Council-Controlled Organisation (CCO). ATEED falls under the umbrella of the Auckland Council. It uses the same friendly pohutukawa logo. But it is not a part of the Auckland Council. It’s half-owned by the Council, half private. It is run at arms length from it by unelected officials that are not publicly accountable for their actions. The Council doesn’t control its CCO’s – the whole point of them is that they work independently, much like an SOE. 

This explains the rather perplexing contradtiction between ATEED event organisers predicting a crowd of 50,000, and Len Brown himself publicly predicting 100-150,000. The issue is that a semi-private agency was controlling a public event. Yet when something goes wrong with ATEED’s organisation, the Mayor Brown is in the gun. Why? Because it’s an Auckland agency, so the media/public equate Auckland agency with Auckland mayor. There’s nobody from ATEED talking because being unelected and unaccountable, they don’t have to answer to anybody.

The fundamental issue is the structure of the Super City itself and the huge responsibilities and budgets given to unelected and unaccountable CCO’s. Before the legislation was passed many were sceptical of the amount of rates going into organisations that we as ratepayers couldn’t hold to account over their actions. Friday night’s rukus is simply a manifestation of what can go wrong with the CCO structure on a grand scale – ATEED screwed up big time, and yet being a semi-private entity they escape the blame. It’s not Len Brown’s fault that he was given this CCO model to work with. The blame lies squarely at the feet of Rodney Hide and his Super City legislation for placing the responsibility for delivering these large public events into an unelected, unaccountable body.

Len Brown will continue to take the flak for this. He has to. Given that ATEED is semi-private, it is not accountable to anybody. The opening night balls-up was largely ATEED’s fault, but they won’t take responsibility or put anyone forward to take an interview. Nor do they have to under the law. Thank Rodney Hide for that little absurdity.



About Liam W

Urbanist, transport nerd, general curmudgeon.

Posted on September 14, 2011, in New Zealand Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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