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Pared to the core – Local Body Councils on a Hiding to nothing

By June 9, 2009June 10th, 20099 Comments

First they let him loose on the dance floor, then Super-Auckland, and now the rest of us – does this man know no humility…?

Rodney Hide is set to Tango all over Local Body law in order to reduce them to core services – such as public health and safety, and rubbish collection. Here is the official report from this morning’s Herald.co.nz article (although a fuller media account of the proposals can be found here):

The Cabinet has signed off on Mr Hide’s request for the Department of Internal Affairs to review local government law, including the removal of the requirement for councils to deliver on “community outcomes” such as social, environmental and cultural “wellbeing” which Mr Hide said pushed councils into providing services well beyond their core roles.

Brilliant. Community wellbeing is obviously unrelated to health outcomes in Rodney’s beady eyes, as are environmental concerns. Gone would be the summer city events or indeed, celebrations of any form, urban design would be about improving streets for kerb-side garbage collection, and libraries would be sold to the highest bidders to be run as a private enterprises. District plans would no doubt be things of the past, to provide unfettered development opportunity to the great invisible hand (which, let’s face it, generally  results in a more than visible two-fingered gesture in terms of positive social and community outcomes). Developer driven ‘architecture’ – a Tui billboard waiting to happen…

All I can say is thank God for our Socialist Prime Minister, who was quick to distance himself from Hide’s views, stating that they do not necessarily represent Government position. Quite frankly, I find it weird that Hide was all silent about the rescinding of lower tax rates (that magical panacea for poor economic performance for all good right wing acolytes) in the recent budget – but is far more extreme on this issue. This speaks to me of a good little lap-dog, given just enough leash to think that he has some freedom, before being yanked into line by his master before he can do any real damage…

Anyway, I suspect that the review will confirm the importance of social/cultural/environmental mandate of our Councils, and despite being an otherwise waste of taxpayer dollars, will help to entrench current practice. After all, as important as core services are, what are we left with when we are denied the ‘fruit’ that the core is supposed to sustain?

m-d

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • richard says:

    and doesn’t he want public referenda on every second issue? – what a waste of money. No wonder the councils won’t be able to “deliver” on much. It’s difficult enough keeping local libraries, art galleries, archives and museums going. At least with a lack on money on cultural infrastructure there’ll be little record of this blip in our country’s history …

  • m-d says:

    Yeah – public input at that stage, but not as consultation for the actual report that will recommend the necessary legislative changes – no way…! (Democracy is best when you can control its outcome…).

  • thomas says:

    But – isn’t there a valid point to consider in that with Councils addressing social concerns the onus is removed from Central Government (whose role it is to take care of these matters), and that in doing so, there is a costly duplication of resources and administration that reduces the amount that is available to spend (or more realistically, that has to be ripped off rate-payers).

    And how can it be fair for property owners to subsidize others in terms of ‘services’ such as cultural activities (Libraries, concerts, sports events, marine centres, etc, etc – the list goes on and on and on) anyway. A regional tax would make more sense than rates for this type of non-core activity

  • jane says:

    Hi Thomas – why is this non-core? We are still aiming for NZ to be part of the civilised world aren’t we?

  • thomas says:

    I would say that non-core are those services that could be provided by he private sector (should there be a genuine need for them in the first place – i.e. if people were offered choice to opt out of paying for council services that they never use, whether they would, in fact, continue to financially support them).

    And don’t give me the line about Libraries being unable to be a commercial venture – what’s a video store??

  • jane says:

    “- what’s a video store??”
    usually a direct link to Hollywood blockbusters and the occasional bit of porn

  • thomas says:

    I recommend Aro Street Video… (or even fatso.co.nz) where there is a market, there will inevitably be a business to service it…

  • thomas says:

    Actually, when reported correctly, Rodney’s proposals become a lot less extreme – more democratic even. You should replace the above link with this one:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10577512

  • m-d says:

    Thanks – duly noted, and included in the original post above…