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Thursday, 6 March 2008

THE OPPOSITION CONFIRMS THE RIGHT COURSE

It is very heartening that apart from two minor objections all the opposition to the petition to shift the Gulf islands from Auckland to Thames-Coromandel has been in the form of misinformation, scaremongering, defamation, lies, hatred, abuse, and sabotage (some 'missing' petition forms). In any battle if the opposition has nothing true to counter with the proposal must be well grounded in truth.

(The only true objections have been minor--the distance islanders would have to travel if they wanted to go to council meetings, and the fact that anyone wanting to take out a library book from Auckland's libraries using the interloan service would have to pay more. But occasional inconvenience and higher fees for interloans would be a small price to pay for much better local government. But if the fees for books were a big enough concern, and the community wanted it, they could be subsidised via a targeted rate. The only other objection of moment, based on losing 'Santa Claus' Auckland, is rooted in greed and/or self-interest, and ignores Santa's overspending and waste and the damage he is doing to the precious character of the islands.)

The virulent opposition from all but two members of the community boards on Waiheke and Great Barrier (me on Waiheke and a member on Great Barrier) is particularly disappointing. All board members must make a statutory promise to uphold, in particular, the Local Government Act 2002, but the opposers have in effect condemned the democratic process available under the Act to all New Zealanders. Once a petition of at least 10% of the registered electors has been gathered there will be an application to the Local Government Commission to move the boundary. That is the law; that is democracy. The aim of the petition is to get better local government than we are getting under Auckland. That is also the aim of the Act, and in law it must be the LGC's primary concern.

So why such opposition from people who just a few months ago also swore to act in the best interests of their community, to the best of their skill and judgement? What skill and judgement is there in a knee-jerk resolution, in not doing their homework, in ignoring the facts, in condemning a lawful democratic process, in countering it with misinformation, in arguing to the man not the issue?

The best interests of the islands will be served by asking the question: are we better off under Auckland, or would we be better off under Thames-Coromandel? If that question is not asked, no board member can claim to be acting in the best interests the community. The application will ask the question. The LGC will subject it to rigorous examination. Its ruling will be in our best interests. Refusing to get it cannot be.