Falls The Shadow: Everything you didn’t know about the Committee For Auckland.

By   /   January 31, 2014  /   12 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

Having achieved their primary goal, the CFA now sees its job as “igniting leadership and momentum” throughout the region. Sounds painful.

image002

   Between the idea

And the reality

   Between the motion

And the act

   Falls the Shadow

– T.S. Eliot  The Hollow Men

 

THE COMMITTEE FOR AUCKLAND http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/ is our largest city’s shadow government. It is composed of the representatives of 69 organisations, 11 individuals, and the Consuls of the United States, China and Australia. Dedicated to “making Auckland one of the world’s great places to live and work”, the CFA describes itself as “an independent, evidence based, thought leadership organisation promoting an innovative approach to a range of complex issues.”

Four times larger than Auckland’s official governing body, it is composed principally of business leaders, financiers, property investors and developers, university administrators, advertisers and public relations executives. Experts in the theory and practice of “enterprise architecture” and governance (some of them drawn from organisations and businesses ostensibly controlled by the citizens of Auckland) are also included in the CFA’s membership.

One does not simply walk into the CFA. Membership is by invitation only (although it is possible to purchase “associate” individual membership for $2,500). The principal purpose of the organisation, however, is not to attract wealthy individuals per se but to recruit the Chairs of Boards, Directors and Chief Executives of Auckland’s top-100 enterprises. Corporate members pay an annual fee of $10,000 – suggesting a budgetary target of approximately $1 million per annum.

Conspicuous by their absence from the membership of the CFA are Auckland’s trade unions, environmental organisations and community groups advocating for the poor and marginalised. Two notable exceptions are the Auckland City Mission and the Salvation Army. (It is to be hoped that Dianne Robertson and Major Campbell Roberts both bring extremely long spoons to CFA suppers!)

Essentially, the CFA is a scaled-down, Auckland-based version of the now defunct New Zealand Business Roundtable and like the NZBR its purpose is to both shadow (in the sense of follow and keep tabs on) and overshadow (in the sense of overawe and inhibit) the elected political leadership of Auckland.

As the CFA itself says: “Our strength is built, not by the advocacy of an individual member or a particular point of view, but by the collective support of our members to advance Auckland as a dynamic and exciting place to live and work.” Or, as a slightly less enthusiastic observer might feel moved to remark: “the CFA is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole Auckland bourgeoisie.”

The enormous economic power wielded by the CFA’s membership combined with the vast reservoir of talent and expertise at its command gives it a de facto power of veto over Auckland Council policy. Any measure deemed harmful to the interests of the banks, large accounting firms, construction companies, large-scale investors and property developers who hold the ring for Auckland capitalism would instantly unite the CFA in fierce opposition.

The politician/s responsible for such an offending policy would not only have to contend with the professional counter-attacks facilitated by the CFA’s advertising and PR agency members, but also with the fact that the CFA has a number of Council Controlled Organisations CEOs in its membership. Assailed by the city’s most influential individuals and corporations; under fire from the CFA’s mouthpieces in the news media; the offending politician/s would have to be of Churchillian steadfastness to even continue the fight – let alone win it!

Far better for the aspiring politician/s to ingratiate themselves with the CFA. Attend its regular seminars; accept the invitations to its cocktail parties; read its policy papers; consult its visiting experts; get on side. The shrewd councillor/s would know they have little to fear by aligning themselves in this way. After all, the CFA is linked to just about every source of outside expert advice available to the Auckland Council. When disaster strikes, and an “independent” investigation becomes unavoidable, who ya gonna call?

The Mayor’s run off the rails? His extra-marital affair is all over the media? No worries. Simply commission a highly reputable firm to conduct an investigation into any possible breaches of the Council’s Code of Conduct. That the chosen firm might also be a corporate member of the CFA need not trouble the good citizens of Auckland. Haven’t they heard of Chinese Walls?

And if the investigation reveals that the Mayor and his wife benefited from the generosity of another prominent corporate member of the CFA? Well, so what? There’s nothing corrupt about “comping” hotel rooms – it’s simply good business.

‘Good business’ is certainly the name of the game. Making sure that business is good and stays good for its members is the CFA’s primary function. But the sort of executives whose pen portraits appear on the CFA’s website http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/membership/member-profiles  – all of them highly-skilled and highly-paid professionals – have neither the time nor the inclination to immerse themselves in the day-to-day grind of political representation and decision-making.

It was the CFA’s founders who could be found working quietly behind the scenes when Rodney Hide and the National-led Government were designing a governance structure for Greater Auckland. It’s leading lights made sure that, from the very start, business friendliness was embedded in the “super-city’s” institutional DNA.

This required the creation of representative bodies that were only nominally in control of the City. What Auckland’s business leaders needed, and what they got, was a governance structure that is (with the possible exception of the new ‘executive’ Mayoralty) politician-proof.

Bluntly-speaking, the CFA’s members’ time is just too valuable to waste sitting around the Council Table. Consequently, they need to be sure that the people who do end up sitting there are constitutionally precluded from making a nuisance of themselves. So far these expectations have been met. As the Ports of Auckland dispute proved, Auckland City’s governing body is simply incapable of committing itself to anything other than protecting the profits of the bosses.

Having achieved their primary goal, the CFA now sees its job as “igniting leadership and momentum” throughout the region. Sounds painful.

But who’s to stop them? The structurally powerless members of Auckland City’s “Governing Body”? Nope. The even more powerless members of its Local Boards? Hardly! What about whistle-blowers like the third-highest-polling Mayoral candidate of 2013, Penny Bright (to whom I am indebted for alerting me to the existence and influence of the CFA)? Sadly, the answer also seems to be ‘No’. Like the mythical Cassandra, the eccentric Ms Bright seems fated to be forever warning her fellow Aucklanders about elites bearing gifts – and not being believed.

And if one day Aucklanders did start paying attention to Penny? Well then the probability is high that Auckland City’s “Democracy Advisor” (also responsible for “Governance Support” and “Democracy Services”) would politely inform them that their request for speaking rights had been declined.

 

***
Want to support this work? Donate today
***
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
***

12 Comments

  1. Papa Tuanuku says:

    I note that it’s membership is 100% white too.

  2. Tiger Mountain says:

    Niu Qingbao, Consul General (honorary member) Consulate General of The Peoples Republic of China would probably not take to being called white but Papa Tuanuku is correct that all the suits pictured and other names listed indeed seem white. If you need to be told why this is a problem in an ethnically diverse city…

    What a rogues gallery with the slight possible exemption of Mr Maharey and Mrs Gibbs. As TV character Wolfie Smith of the Tooting Popular Front used to say about new additions to his ledger “come the revolution mate you’ll be first up against the wall–bop bop bop!”

    A dodgy bunch to be effectively in charge of the supercity, even that dirty filthy Tony Gibson is there. Pity Len did not have to go to a new election because Penny and perhaps John Minto could have got a lot more of this behind the scenes manipulation out in the open.

  3. Tim says:

    ……… and come the revolution ….. watch them all squeal like stuffed pigs.
    The only problem is that revolution is a long time coming – but as the split ends pantene lady once said …. “it won’t happen overnight, but it WILL happen”

  4. Sanctuary says:

    Terribly nice of them to provide the arrest list in one convenient place for when the revolution comes.

  5. Malcolm says:

    ‘Democracy Advisor’!

    Says it all …………

  6. It beggars belief that CEOs of Auckland Council companies are also members of this organisation.

    The Chief Executive of a CCO (and yes, they are only nominally Council controlled, having looked at the structure during the POAL dispute) is supposedly responsible to the main shareholder, the Auckland Council.

    Wouldn’t/shouldn’t people like Tony Gibson (POAL) and Brett O’Riley need Board approval prior to joining any organisation – especially in the capacity as a representative of their company? One would have thought so.

    It’s fairly obvious that the Auckland Council and CCO structures need reforming and democratisation by an incoming Labour-Green government. That includes direct representation on all boards by community elected representatives.

    If it’s good enough to elect the boards of DHBs – why not CCOs?

    Perhaps because DHBs have little power, whereas CCOs can be multi-million dollar enterprises?!

    But perhaps what I find truly disturbing is that the MSM have not picked up on this organisation (that I’ve seen), and has flown under the radar of our last remaining investigative journalists.

    Now THAT I find truly worrying.

    • Marc says:

      Frank –

      “But perhaps what I find truly disturbing is that the MSM have not picked up on this organisation (that I’ve seen), and has flown under the radar of our last remaining investigative journalists.”

      Come on, you do not believe what you wrote there yourself, would you?

      The media bosses and their top editors, they will be regulars at any social or other functions that most of the Committee’s members attend! They will know of their existence full well! And there is a person called Suzanne McNicol on their Executive Team, as “Communications Manager”, who worked for:

      “Suzanne is an experienced marketing and communications practitioner who has spent the past twenty years working in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors.”

      “She has held strategic management roles for The Radio Network, MediaWorks and Telecom. Suzanne works closely with the Committee’s Board and staff to promote its programmes and projects through public relations and direct marketing initiatives.”

      Any more wondering about media bias now??? Wakey, wakey, dear folks, it is all tied together, the old boys’ and old girls’ network is well and alive!!!

  7. This little bit is a give-a-way in the Committee’s agenda,

    OUR WORK

    1.
    …An essential part of this project will be ensuring that the voice of employers is considered in the many new programmes and policies being developed by Local and Central Government.

    http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/about/strategy

    Employers, huh?

    No mention of workers. Or communities.

    Just – employers.

    So in reality, this is an employer’s/business organisation.

    Ok, just so we’re clear what this organisation is about.

  8. Marc says:

    Quote from the above:

    “The enormous economic power wielded by the CFA’s membership combined with the vast reservoir of talent and expertise at its command gives it a de facto power of veto over Auckland Council policy. Any measure deemed harmful to the interests of the banks, large accounting firms, construction companies, large-scale investors and property developers who hold the ring for Auckland capitalism would instantly unite the CFA in fierce opposition.”

    “Far better for the aspiring politician/s to ingratiate themselves with the CFA. Attend its regular seminars; accept the invitations to its cocktail parties; read its policy papers; consult its visiting experts; get on side. The shrewd councillor/s would know they have little to fear by aligning themselves in this way. After all, the CFA is linked to just about every source of outside expert advice available to the Auckland Council. When disaster strikes, and an “independent” investigation becomes unavoidable, who ya gonna call?”

    Well, I am glad I read up on this, and now so much is clarified for me. It was always clear to me, that Auckland City is not really governed by the democratically elected representatives, as they are actually being “advised” and guided by the business and institutional elites, who are a club of their own, and do not give a rat’s arse about what we common folk would want and expect.

    The picture is becoming clearer by the day, and of course, Rodney Hide was not put in charge of overseeing and managing the establishment of the Auckland Council for no reason.

  9. Marc says:

    And these guys and girls from the ‘Committee for Auckland’, same as the politicians and sundry other representatives, want us to believe we live in a democracy, and that our vote counts for something!? What damned joke, when the ones we vote for will basically have to rely on these people’s advice and guidance (while basically being told by them, “hey, we own and control most of Auckland”):

    http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/about/staff-and-governance/committee-for-auckland-limited-board

    http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/about/staff-and-governance/executive-team

    http://www.committeeforauckland.co.nz/about/strategy

    Democracy in NZ is a FARCE!

    And Len is firmly in their “pocket”, you better believe it!

    And once he goes, another candidate will be ensured the money and else, that is needed to lift and promote her or his profile, so the sheeples can suck up the propaganda and vote for that one.

    WAKEY, WAKEY, Aucklanders, and New Zealanders in general, you are being taken for a damned ride, it is time to rise, seize power and take back control of our city!

  10. Jax Taylor Jax Taylor says:

    Finally vindication for Penny.
    Thankyou Chris. Yes many things track back to a group with immense power & influence yet very little accountabilty or ‘public profile’..


 
Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,