Sunday, August 1, 2010

Frank Newman: Council wars and opportunists

The good citizens of Northland have of late been treated with the spectacle of local body politicians and politically engineered council staff, arguing the case for amalgamation of the local councils. Their cause is dissolution of the Northland Regional Council and devolution of its assets to the local councils, but their case is flimsy and self-serving - nothing more than a crude attempt to storm the parapets of the Regional Council and seize the $126 million of assets stashed within its coffers.

What is particularly disturbing is the extent to which the council staff have become engaged in the political warfare. In theory there is a clear line between the politics of local government and its administration. In the case of the Whangarei District Council (WDC) that line is not only blurred, it has been erased. Given the political tainting, the WDC cannot be trusted with the absolute control of the consenting and monitoring process that a unitary authority would deliver.

As one would expect, the Council’s self-serving campaign has attracted other opportunist with their own self-serving agendas. Reserved seats for Maori has again raised its ugly racist head. The issue here is whether Maori are in fact disadvantaged under the current universal voting system. The evidence is Whangarei is that they are not. In Whangarei (and I suggest elsewhere) those of Maori heritage are elected to council on their own merits – both our Mayor and Deputy Mayor are of Maori heritage. On that basis I simply cannot accept that non-Maori discriminate against Maori when considering their voting preferences. Giving preferential reserved seats to Maori would in effect diminish their right to stand on level ground head and shoulders above others.

In my view reserved seats would not be supported by the majority (90%) of citizens, who want New Zealanders to unite in the future instead of being divided by the past. Most New Zealanders are over the past, it’s time reserved seats were also confined to history.


Anonymous said...

Ok Frank but I would support a Unitary Authority but not one acting as an investment fund manager. I disagree with the present WDC investment land holdinds and with the Regional holdings, mainly of shares. Thes could all go into a civic trust of some sort or be realised and the proceeds returned to ratepayers.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that Maori seats have no place in local body politics. For that matter they have no place in central government politics either, but there is no champion pushing that line now that John Key is embracing the racists. Why the heck this country keeps getting pushed towards racism is beyond me especially as - as Frank points out in his blog - Maori are as good as everyone else and don't need special treatment to be able to succeed.

Frank Newman said...

I agree, I would prefer the money were returned to its owners rather than have politicians mismanage it, which is generally the case - and has been the case with the Whangarei District Council since the 2002 Local Government Act came into play.

My main concern with a unitary authority is with respect to regulatory powers. Having been a councillor I know of a number of instances where the NRC has forced the WDC to correct breaches of resource consent conditions. Eventual compliance would not have taken place had it not been for the NRC threatening or taking prosecution action against the WDC, with the adverse media publicity that such an action attracts.

Given the culture within the WDC, I have no faith that the WDC would self-regulate consent conditions, if it were in sole control of the entire process.

Anonymous said...

Some valid points made, however, your comment that most New Zealanders are over the past is a bit off the mark. Consider what is happening with the foreshore and seabed debacle and where that is likely to lead. Further, I suggest Maori will discriminate against Maori when it suits, more so if they are elected representatives.

Frank Newman said...

My comment was, "Most New Zealanders are over the past, it’s time reserved seats were also confined to history."

MOST New Zealanders do think the grievance gravy train has gone on for too long. They want it to end... that's what I mean by they are over it.

It's the radical's who want to perpetuate the process - and they won't stop until they are in control again - and New Zealand will once again be a tribal country and rival Zimbabwe for the Idiot Nation award.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected, explained that way you are 100% correct. Tribalism is already active here, used properly, it may be the one thing that can be used against the radicals. (and the bleeding hearts)

Frank Newman said...

Unfortunately by the time the bleeding hearts come around (if they ever do) the damage will have been done. Each step (currently stride) forward by Maori radicals will take decades to reverse, if it is at all possible.

There is a reason good people (including good Maori people) are leaving for Australia... they don't think there is a future for them here any more. That is such a sad situation.

Unfortunately life is it not a fairly tale with the inevitable happy ending - look at places like Fiji, Zimbabwe, most of Africa, and many parts of Asia... tyranny emerges because naive bleeding heart liberals allow it to develop.

National, unbelievably, are even worse than Labour when it comes to be led by the nose down a destructive path. John Key is probably young enough to see the consequences in his life time - that's if he has not joined Helen Clark in the UN by then (or more likely the board of Goldman Sachs).