Councillors: ‘Recklessly’ short time to read Auckland’s 7000 page blueprint
BEVAN READ / FAIRFAX NZ
Scrutinising all 7000 pages of Auckland’s future blueprint with just 16 days left is “ridiculous” and “reckless”, city councillors claim.
Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan, which in print equals 14 reams of paper, is leaving councillors scrambling to fully grasp the plan’s implications before a series of votes ending on August 19.
Last week Waitemata councillor Mike Lee said “having 20 days to consider the plan is almost reckless”.
“This impacts the city for the next forty years and we have 20 days to try understand it before we have to make key decisions.”
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ
“I am certainly trying to understand it to the best of my ability and will give it a good crack but of course it is not sufficient time.”
David White Fairfax Media
On July 28, Albany councillor John Watson said councillors were having to rubber-stamp decisions on the plan in a “ridiculously compressed” timeframe.
Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor Denise Krum said she has been focusing on the areas she is interested in and receiving help from council staff.
“It is a very large complex document and we cannot be expected to know all of it when it comes to the decision process. But in saying that I will feel very angry if we feel pressed to rush decisions during this period,” Krum said.
Council regulatory services director Penny Pirrit said councillors and local board chairs were briefed on the Unitary Plan on July 27, local board members receive their briefing on Thursday.
The council is providing support advisors trained in how to navigate the plan to assist councillors with finding information, she said.
Although councillors could call for an extra 20 days to consider the plan, it’s unlikely they will do so given October’s local body election season looms, unnamed Auckland local body sources said.
Papering over the time constraint
University of Auckland business school lecturer and “power reading expert” Nick Read, said the plan could be read faster if it’s in on paper.
“The old way is the best way . . . statistics show it’s 25 per cent slower reading a screen, [unlike paper] you don’t have annotating and highlighting and making quick references.”
When asked if his home inkjet printer would cope churning out the epic Unitary Plan, Read laughs down the phone.
“No, no, no, there’s no way!”
Although Read estimates a speed reader could read the printed-off plan in 55 days, there’s simply not enough time left.
Read agrees with the “don’t know what you don’t know” paradox – the public especially will struggle to ask the right questions unless they read the entire plan,he said.
In it for the long haul
JEFF CHRISTENSEN / REUTERS
Being involved with the Unitary Plan right from its start more than three years ago has paid off for a youth-orientated Auckland pressure group.
Group spokesman Leroy Beckett said Generation Zero, which claims thousands of supporters, has taken a coordinated approach to the plan.
Many of the group’s large team of volunteers are current or former urban planning students who understand how urban planning works.
“Because we have been working with plans like these for years we knew where to look for what we wanted to know,” Beckett said.
Having contextual relations with that Unitary Plan
When it’s a case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ unless you’ve read the whole thing, one way to tackle the Unitary Plan’s 7000 pages is to take the Bill Clinton approach.
That is to divide up sections of the plan amongst a group of people – to get its review out on time, US magazine Slate used three reviewers to scrutinise former American president Bill Clinton’s much shorter but equally gruelling autobiography ‘My Life’.
Whistle-blowing web organisation Wikileaks upscales the Slate approach by involving hundreds of people partnering with teams of journalists around the globe to analyse tens of thousands of leaked documents.