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Friday
Jul202012

Queenstown Blues 

There is every reason for confusion over exactly what position the Government now takes in regard to the extensive reforms proposed by previous Local Government Minister Nick Smith, and agreed to by Cabinet. His successor, David Carter has had sufficient time to review the Smith proposals, and provide Councils with unequivocal guidance. Instead, he appears wishy-washy to say the least. The Government’s contradictory position over the movement of the V8’s to Auckland is a the most blatant example. It has used Hamilton Council as a whipping-boy for bad governance, exemplifying what happens when Councils deviate from ‘core’ activities. But its comfort with Auckland City taking over the project, and additionally contributing $2.2m to the Pukekohe venue upgrade smacks of ambiguity, if not hypocrisy.  

Nick Smiths wish to remove the famous “four well-beings” from council objectives  has being equivocated over and over, and rejected out of hand and unanimously last week at the Local Government Conference in Queenstown. Minister Carter appears ready to do a U-turn on this, but has not indicated just how far he is prepared to go. Any deviation will require further Cabinet approval – hardly a difficulty in view of the time it took Minister Smith to get them through a reluctant Cabinet.

Of course, the major stumbling block lies in the definition of just what is “core business”? No one appears able to agree on just what this means, and with Prime Minister Key least of all, being unwilling to remove World Cups, Wearable Art exhibitions and fireworks displays from council involvement. ‘As you were’ – virtually anything appears allowable under this definition. It is no wonder mayors and councillors are tearing their hair out. Unwillingness to reign in borrowing in accordance with Treasury’s expressed desire, to avoid repetition of the Kaipara experience, and fiscal risk generally indicates further equivocation. 

Actually, our Council was a non-participant in Queenstown. Every other Council appeared to be represented, but our Mayor decided that in the interests of economy we should stay away. This is all very well, and commendable - other Waikato councils sent some 36 representatives at a cost of some $81,000, including apparently some free-loading spouses. But there is vital information provided, and united fronts formed at these conferences. The rebuff to the Smith proposals was a cogent example, but we were not there to participate, or report back.

Mayor Leach may perceive this stand-off attitude as a vote catcher, but many will consider it false economy. We certainly don’t need free-loaders at these events, male or female, but we do need limited representation in accordance with past practice. There is an element of blatant sanctimony evident in this year’s non-attendance. And Leach's current publicity campaign will no doubt trumpet this "achievement" in due course.      

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

if you look back Bill I think you will find Leach not only didn't attend the Local Government Conference in Queenstown but I believe from my contacts here on the Eastern seaboard that Leach has not attended ANY meetings involving the Region or National local Government since he was elected - or even the training for new Mayor's -in fact they were not even sure if he attends the Regional Transport meetings which set the future roading priorities -like replacement of the single lane Pepe bridge at Tairua!!
such 'head in the sand' approach to local government politics is not the way to progress the Peninsula into the 21st century - to ensure we get our fair share of Central Government funding etc.
Or it could be a case of the fact that Leach is not confident of justifying his 'devolution policies' to his peers - or for that matter is not confident of backing himself in the political arena - and as a final thought the boys tell me that TCDC pay a large sum of money - ratepayers money to belong to Local Government NZ- which begs the question why belong if you don't want to associate with the other players???

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCYCLOPS

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