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Auckland Council confirms emergency governance measures, $22.5m contingency fund

Published: 24 March 2020

Auckland Council’s Governing Body has unanimously approved emergency measures to ensure effective governance of the city while it is in lockdown over the next four weeks.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “With New Zealand entering lockdown tomorrow, these measures mean we can continue to make the critical decisions needed to keep Auckland running while observing the physical distancing requirements announced by the government.

“From today, we will replace physical meetings with meetings by teleconferencing and audio-visual link.

Temporary 'supercommittee' established 

“We have agreed to temporarily establish a ‘supercommittee’ made up of the whole Governing Body to assume the functions and power of all committees except for the Audit and Risk Committee. That includes the responsibilities of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee,” Phil Goff says.

Temporary emergency meetings will be held weekly and the new committee will remain in existence until it is deemed unnecessary by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor on recommendation of the Chief Executive. The terms of reference for this temporary Emergency Committee will include allowing all members to participate by audio or audio-visual link, with a quorum of two, chaired by the Mayor, with the Deputy Mayor as the committee deputy.

Extraordinary measures

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says these are extraordinary measures required by the extraordinary situation.

“It’s critical that Auckland Council is able to govern the city effectively while maintaining the physical distance guidelines required to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

“This structure will enable us to make decisions to keep Aucklanders safe while we respond to the challenges COVID-19 poses.”

The Independent Māori Statutory Board will be able to appoint two members to sit on the temporary Emergency Committee to vote on items that would have normally been decided with IMSB input.

$22.5 million Emergency Fund

The Governing Body also voted to establish a $22.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund for any urgent expenditure required to ensure organisational resilience in responding to COVID-19 and related disruption.

Phil Goff says, “Given the unprecedented nature of our current situation, and the potential for rapid and unforeseen developments, we need to be able to act decisively and effectively should we need to  escalate our response, following the advice of health authorities and the government. The COVID-19 Emergency Fund will allow us to put further urgent measures in place rapidly should we be required to do so.”

Finance and Performance Committee Chair Desley Simpson agreed.

“There is no playbook for our current situation, so we need to have the capability to react quickly and be flexible should the need arise.

“The Emergency Committee will ensure that any expenditure of emergency funds is made with clear oversight and in the interest of our city and Aucklanders.”

Key points:

The Governing Body today agreed to:

  • Restrict physical attendance at meetings of the Governing Body, its committees and sub-committees to attendance by audio or audio-visual link. An Order in Council under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, which will make members attending remotely count towards a quorum, is before the Government.
  • Establish immediately one committee made up of the whole Governing Body to assume the functions and power of all committees except for the Audit and Risk Committee.
  • The terms of reference for this temporary Emergency Committee will include all able to participate by audio or audio-visual link with a quorum of two, chaired by the Mayor, with the Deputy Mayor as the committee deputy.
  • Temporary Emergency Committee meetings will be held weekly.
  • The IMSB may appoint two members to sit on the temporary Emergency Committee to vote on items that would have normally been decided by a committee where they were a member.
  • The temporary Emergency Committee will take on the responsibilities of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee.
  • This committee will remain in existence until deemed unnecessary by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor on recommendation of the Chief Executive.
  • Public input requests will be decided by the chair of the temporary Emergency Committee.

The Governing Body also agreed to establish a COVID-19 contingency fund of $22.5 million for any urgent expenditure required to respond to COVID-19 or its impacts.

Read more: COVID-19

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