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Thursday, 18 February 2010

LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEFINED

Local Government: An oxymoron practised by local bodies, which is a term made up from 'local' as in anaesthetic and 'body' as in dead.

REMUNERATION AND SUPER-SILLY OLIGARCHY

The Remuneration Authority is treasonously corrupt. Treasonous because it has betrayed the country, corrupt because it has replaced with an illegal formula the superb mandatory criteria laid down Clause 7 of Schedule 7 in the Local Government Act 2002. It has thereby kneecapped local government for years, depriving New Zealand of local government democracy. Democracy is not democracy unless it is representative. You cannot have representative government if a true cross-section of the community is barred from standing for election because no one can live on a pittance.

The present remuneration for Community Boards is a part-time salary for a full-time job, a national average of $4000 to $5000. No one can live on that, so the only people who can stand are those who have another form of income, which also means they cannot give the local-body job their full attention. So ratepayers are short-changed two ways. They do not get a representative selection to choose from at elections, and afterwards they do not get the service they expected and have the right to.

When they voted they ticked a selection of persons. What they got is only fractions of persons.

Even at regional level. Auckland Regional Councillors are the lowest-paid regional councillors in the country, on $22,000 a year. $22,000 for a high-level management job!

But Rodney Hide refuses to do anything about the Remuneration Authority (that is the same guy who wants the Auckland region to be well-run). Therefore Local Boards will be in the same situation as Community Boards. But to make matters worse there will be a bureaucracy of 6000, and history proves that large bureaucracies are never good, efficient public-servants. To make matters even worse the proposal is that Local Boards will come under that bureaucracy. That is wrong. They are the elected, they should be associated with the mayor's department.

The notion that you get better local government by the massive centralisation of political and bureaucratic power is fundamentally flawed.

It is ironic that the leader of the ACT Party, the party that worships the idol of competition, by setting up this state within a state, the state of Auckland within the state of New Zealand running under different local-body legislation from the rest of the country, has eliminated competition from local government.

Everywhere else in New Zealand areas that pass the population threshold of 10,000 can apply to have their own council, or if they are on the edge of a district and their analysis shows that the council over the border would deliver better local government they can apply to be transferred. But Rodney Hide's triple-whammy legislation deprives 1.4 million people of both options, because it takes precedence over the legislation that makes it possible (the Local Government Act 2002).

The whole shambolic upheaval is nothing but an ego-trip by a yellow-jacketed fool who thinks you have to turn the world upside down to crack a peanut. The man is a power-freak on steroids. Everything necessary (truly necessary, that is) could be achieved under the Local Government Act 2002, with perhaps a tweak here and there.

Some Community Boards, which happen to be blessed with far better councils than Auckland City Council, already have the sort of powers that are wanted by the latent Local Boards--such as doing the budgets for their communities and determining the local rates for them. And they can second staff to work for them on projects to benefit their local communities.

The Local Boards need the fair remuneration laid down in law, they need ready access to staff of their own, and they need control over local money.

Waiheke does not need 6000 people to run an island of 8000. Great Barrier does not need 6000 to run an island of 800.

This is vast upheaval, an expensive upheaval, a new system that is to be dumped on 1.4 million people, untried and untested, under which huge areas will descend from having their own local council to having a single councillor and a kneecapped Local Board. LOCAL government? No.

Good local government is government that is local and government that is good. It has to be both or it is neither. The Super Silly is neither, and cannot be either. For our small community, out here on the fringes of it it things will be worse than they have been since 1989.

In 1989 Waiheke went from 100% of the vote, 100% of the say and 100% of the councillors to 2.3% of the vote, even less of the say and 1 beseiged councillor out of 20. Now we are to go to 0.6% of the vote, even less of the say, and only a share in a councillor with a city mindset. We have been ruled by a city mindset for the last twenty years. We have proved to the hilt that that does not work. We have been at the mercy of Auckland's integrity for twenty years. Sadly, there is not much integrity to be found there. Now that situation is being made even worse.

'Community of interest' includes people who have a real, deep interest in your community, because their hearts and minds are in the same place. They care because they understand. Auckland does not, never has, and never will. Especially its CBD.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a consequence to every act. And, sadly, to every ACT Party.

The much-vaunted, much-heralded Third Bill turned out to be a mess that a dog's breakfast would not be seen dead with, a document beside which the proposed Hauraki Gulf District Plan that was inflicted upon us looks like a splendidly concise exercise in tidy logical thought.


Waiheke will be worse off than it has been in the last twenty years under Auckland City Council. All we can do, as usual, is make a very loud protest, but the hurricane of ego-tripping, power-freakish political change will drown our voices in its cacophony. We can scream into this destructive wind, and scream we must, but we know that little or no notice will be taken. The weasel-words from power-mad unreason will carry the day.