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Thursday, 5 November 2009

A BAD HIDING

GETTING THE BEST FROM A BAD HIDING

Rodney Hide's notion that better local government will come from massive centralisation is a bad idea, a nasty oxymoron on steroids. Even worse is his notion that the SuperSilly can be dumped on 1.4 million people after the October 2010 local-body election--which means it will not really get going till early 2011--and that everything will immediately be wunnerful because all the idealogue theorists setting it up will have got it right.

He has already made that unlikely by refusing to make the Remuneration Authority obey the law and pay Community/Local Board Members a living wage. He therefore wants to keep them in fulltime jobs kneecapped by trifling part-time incomes, thus denied the time to do what the law says they should do, what they want to do, and what their communities rightly expect them to do. He therefore wants the SuperShiny Local Boards to be as chronically hamstrung as the present Community Boards.

But 1.4 million people have to live in his head whether they like it or not, so the best we can do is to try to make the best of it--ASAP. Waiheke is the ideal place to do what needs to be done in 2010--i.e., run a pilot on a small scale before dumping the thing untested on 1.4 million. Get hands-on experience first.

A new type of passenger jet is not rolled out of the factory and immediately loaded up with hundreds of people. It is tested and fine-tuned first. But Yellow-Jacket Hide wants to roll out the Super-shiny and immediately load up 1.4 million people. It would be far better to run a pilot in a small, self-contained community with a fair-sized population and a strong interest in local government. Waiheke is such a community, and the fact that its SuperShiny area is already defined in law makes it uniquely positioned to be the pilot--i.e., for our Community Board to run from early 2010, in effect, as a Local Board.

That is why I proposed to the Waiheke Community Board at our October meeting that we ask the Auckland Transition Agency to make us the pilot.

There is more than enough legislation in place to make that possible, so all that is
needed is for the ATA to say yes and to direct Auckland City Council accordingly. It is worth a shot, and our Community Board should put the question. If a question can be asked, and there is potential benefit, it should be asked. If it is not asked the answer will certainly be no--and the blame will be on those who did not have the guts to open their mouths. If it is asked and the answer is no, the blame is on others. The Community Board is sworn to act in the best interests of the community; it should ask.

If we were to succeed we would have more say in our own affairs (assuming that Hide's scheme really will 'put the local back into local government')--and we would have it in early 2010, not early 2011.

We would therefore squeeze some early silk out of the SuperShiny sow's ear; we would be a year ahead of the game; the period of local-government uncertainty would be dramatically reduced; our community would be better off. We should give it a shot.