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Long Term Plan - Due February

The three yearly Long (formerly Ten) Year Plan is the key document that determines the course of our Council's future direction, along with the intervening District plan. A great deal of work will be already uinderway behind the scenes, and we will get to see a summary in February. This may, or may not be made available to every ratepayer, or only at District libraries as determined by the previous Mayor Glenn Leach.

It may help to take a look back at this February 2012 post that outlined the course of events at that time.

I only suggest this because it may serve to remind us of the influence exercised by the redoubtable Dr Ganesh Nana - Executive Director of Berl economic consultants, who have for a long time provided economic advice to the Labour Party, and in doing so have always advocated for major changes to the  Reserve Bank Act.

This was exemplified in an on-air debate on Morning Report between Nana and Dr Don Brash. It was a debate between two diametrically opposed points of view regarding the Act, and in particular, Labour's (Grant Robertson's) requirement regarding expanding the Reserve Bank's responsibility in regard to reducing or removing unemployment. Nana would clearly like to see it expanded to other social areas.

I don't wish to enter into this argument but I would have to say that Dr Nana was expounding a radical viewpoint that were the Government to follow, would represent the 'pivot' that they are currently denying, while putting undeniable measures in place. I have no argument with the intent, but they do need to watch th downstream effects of some of these measures designed to correct inequality, and improve overall lifestyle. And inflation is by no means the only likely consequence.

Dr Nana has the habit of dredging up historical context at the expense of future reality - as with his personally delivered 2009 advice to Council on anticipated growth rates - I remember sitting and listening to what was his nothing short of 'bullish' advice on what we could expect - around 6% - a outlandishly optimistic figure that was incorporated into the then being prepared 2009-19 Ten Year Plan with disastrous consequences, and which needed to revert to the more realistic 1 - 2% at the next iteration in 2012 - a fact that Leach took full advantage of at the time in excoriating the previous Council, and consultants in general - a sentiment with which I generally concur.  I don't think that Berl, or Nana in particlar would or should ever be invited back after that performance.    

As I recall, we had sat mesmerised by this Berl  expert who extrapolated a fulsome future for all on the basis of what was clearly (to me at least) incorrect, or misinterpreted data. I attempted to engage with him on what I considered to be weaknesses in his argument, but was immediately closed down by Mayor Barriball, and we adopted the TYP put forward on the basis of the Berl projections being faithfully incorporated by the two Steves - Baker and Ruru. What a mistake!  I hasten to observe that the advice previously obtained from The University of Waikato was equally faulty.              

Why am telling this story? Simply because listening to Dr Ganesh Nana this morning vividly reminded me of the 2009 episode - he can be very persuasive, even erudite, but mesmerising rhetoric should always be closely analysed, and often 'taken with a grain of salt.' I was reminded of this particularly as I listened as Don Brash tried to get a word in edgeways in the face of the decidedly self-assured economic theory directed at him. And he is no tyro when it comes to that sort of thing, but Nana had a sympathetic  platform provided by Kim Hill.




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