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Local Government Reform Bill

This issue is now coming to the for, and this program on National Radio on Sunday Morning is worth listening to. If there has ever been a policy change which is being brought forward in more confused circumstances than this, then I would like someone to  tell me.

It is a total shambles since the previous Minister was removed. The current Minister Davis Carter seems to live in a cocoon of total confusion and with every attempt he makes to justify the changes, he digs himself deeper into the hole - out with the 'famous four' well beings, and in with economic development. In effect, he is abjectly unable to define what is in and what is out - V8 Supercars in for Auckland ($2.2m of (tax money), but out for Hamilton. What the hell is going on.

Our Council is of course relying on Carter supporting its venture into aquaculture and tourism. All very well if the people emplyed by Council had any expertise in these areas - they do not, and they have proved themselves incompetent as recently exemplified by the unbelievable stuff-up over the Whitianga Sports Complex. If you don't believe me, just go and have a look at what is being installed as a 'toilet block' - it is like the beginning of the Maginot Line.

The aquacultue industry has the potential to absorb vast amounts of ratepayer money as it slowly develops, and eventually turn out to be a huge boondoggle, and environment disaster on a Rena scale. It is incredibly important that every ratepayer remains sceptical in regard to council involvement in economic development, amalgamations, and the general movement away from the RMA that is being quietly promoted by our currently shaky government. Oliver Hart-Richards of the NZ Initiative - a new right-wing think tank who has previously advised the British Government is proposing far greater responsibility for Local Government after a thorough re-organisation. He proposals that functions be transferred away from Central Government will go down like a pork chop in a synagogue in Wellington. 

Carter is comfortable with the Government's proposals, but remains totally unable to define exactly what it is that is being proposed. It appears that his main objective is to remove any hindrance on development - particularly rural development, and take away the ability of councils to undertake anything pertaining to social or cultural expenditure. It has been made quite clear the Government regards current planning requirements as an anathema.

Our Council is ahead of the pack and is about to become the 'poster-boy' of the current government for the manner which it has decimated its planning department. Of course, the consequences of this dismemberment will not become apparent until substantial investment occurs, and that is not likely, with or without a planning department. Attempts to control patchwork sub-division will be almost impossible with the removal those people who have provided structure and logic in the administration of the plethora of rules that are required to combat the sub-division 'cow-boys', otherwise known as 'developers". Rules that have been devloped over years of bad experince are about to become impossible to administer, but this will not become obvious until the first flush of new development funding flows into the District.

It is already being held up as an example to other councils in regard to alleged rate decreases, never mind the increase in debt, or the fact that the increases over recent years have been almost entirely due to the cost of the wastewater plants, and that decreases were rationally plannned in the previous Ten Year Plan. The entirely false claims of frugality, and reorganisation are a sham, and the Council has been aided and abetted in making these claims by senior staff who should know better, but who have clearly become caught up in this calumny.




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