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The Great Debate

Last evening’s amalgamation ‘debate’ at the Junction Hotel was an opportunity for some jocular banter, but very little sensible discussion regarding the subject of the ‘debate’ – amalgamation.

John Laws, Glenn Leach and John Tamihere took the affirmative side, and JohnTregidga, Sandra Goudie and Hugh Vercoe, the negative.

What could and sould have been a rational discussion of the benefits and difficulties of proceeding with joining together Matamata-Piako, Hauraki and Thames Coromandel turned in a celebrity roast. Semi-serious jibes and other nonsense flowed from both sides for the entertainment of the audience, mainly made up of National Party supporters,  and Thames business houses that had clearly been prevailed on by the promoter - Warren Male of CFM, to front up and purchase tables for staff and family. It was hard to know if this assorted audience found the level of discussion enlightening, funny, or just plain crude and louche.

At the risk of having my sense of humour questioned, I have to ask just why Sandra Goudie appears to revel in the moniker of Orange Roughy, and why Hugh Vercoe would be prepared to put up with barely disguised insulting references by Laws to his relationship with his PA, who apparently regularly accompanies him to occasions of this nature. Obviously laddish behaviour is generally regarded as entertaining these days, but it is not a good advertisement, even when Tamihere and Laws are provided free of charge (apparently for the benefit of the Starship Hospital Foundation) by CFM’s parent company – Radio Live.

Needless to say, the real issue of where we go with unitary councils that would involve amalgamation, and dismantling of the WRC with its functions distributed accordingly was not even touched on. On the other hand, Leach’s obvious commitment to achieving simple amalgamation of the three council entities completely ignores the long standing and absolute opposition to amalgamation that remains deep seated amongst out immediate neighbours. Glenn has been away from the situation a little too long, and entered the fray with pre-conceived ideas that are totally opposed by John Tregidga for one. And as far as Hugh Vercoe is concerned, amalgamation will be over his dead body - and he does not appear to be planning to pass-on any time soon! Both men consider amalgamation with our Council with all its attendant liabilities as pure poison. Both are highly respected and have wide support in their respective communities – far more than our arriviste who has come on the scene with such a hiss and a roar.

Glenn can organise all the debates he likes, and drum up support in Wellington and elsewhere, but he will not get to first base on this issue inside the next election. He clearly does not understand the level of antipathy next door, or the reasons behind it. TCDC is seen as having entered into grossly extravagant expenditure on its Eastern Seaboard wastewater schemes that in term of financial soundness took us from the top third to the bottom third of Councils, while both our neighbours have remained shipshape.

Further, our community board structure is seen as wasteful, and irrational. Leach’s ‘empowerment’ model is regarded generally with horror and dis-belief, but it is of course grounded on his unfailing belief that amalgamation is around the corner, and that moving power to the Boards is our only protection. He beliefs are grounded on a totally false premise, and indicative of substantial hubris following eighteen months of getting entirely his own way in regard to re-organising the business of Council.   

The unitary council concept will unfortunately remain just out of reach until some of these players are ready to start the real debate. But it will probably take place regardless of their participation.

Last evening’s performance will not have enhanced Glenn's standing, or ambitions excepting amongst a small group of local Glenn worshippers, many of whom were clearly present last evening to hear him  describing his opponents as 'youse', and their arguments as 'shit'. He certainly sets the tone.




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Reader Comments (1)

On this subject, one should note that by law, a significant proportion of council rates must be charged through property valuation - either land value or capital value.

A quick look at the average price of real estate in Te Aroha and Paeroa compared to all our east coast communities and even Thames, would indicate that under amalgamation TCDC ratepayers would pay significantly more in rates.

One only has to look at the movements in rates that are currently occurring between the different Auckland communities, to realise the unexplained and unexpected outcomes that can arise!

So let us hope that we do not fall into a half-witted amalgamation like some of the communities of Auckland did. Looking at the current standard of media debate in this community, especially as voiced by the Hauraki Herald and CFM, I would not be very confident about that happening!


August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

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