Saturday, March 6, 2010
Frank Newman: Super city contagion
The move is a good case study of how vested interests seize opportunities to hitch their wagon onto the political movements of the day. I know the local political scene and the personalities involved well enough to know that the local government amalgamation agenda in Northland is nothing more than an raid on the asset rich Northland Regional Council. It’s a Genghis Khan rape and pillage type raid, without the screaming and bloodletting.
Unlike the district councils (the Far North and Whangarei District councils in particular) the Regional Council is asset rich, worth $127m, including a 52% stake in Northland Port Corporation.
Getting their sticky fingers onto those assets is an easy way out for the spendthrift councils to get out of the financial hole caused by the reckless spending, incompetence, and poor management of their previous administrations. (To be fair, that’s not the fault of the incumbent mayors. I know both are prudent financial managers, unlike those that preceded them.)
My point here is not to condemn the rationalisation; it’s merely to demonstrate how local government is manipulated - all under the guise of “the public good”. The public good argument is of course nonsense political talk. Very little of what is done by local government is in the public good. It’s generally for the good of the staff, or the vested interests of those on councils, or the many lobby groups that recognise our all powerful local councils as the weakest link.
Personally I think bigger councils are not a solution to the failings of local government. The problem is not their size, it’s that they have been given the powers of general competence when it is competence that’s lacking.
at 6:09 PM