Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Local government - fascist and wasteful

Recent reports of the latest Auckland City Council junket are not surprising. Sister City status is nothing more than a way for councils in both cities to justify expensive holidays in each others’ cities for nothing more than a junket. The trip by three to Hamburg to discuss an “economic alliance” is bullshit – absolute bullshit. For starters, what does Auckland sell that Hamburgers (yes yes) want to buy? Is Auckland City going to Hamburg to demand that Germans lobby for the EU to open up its agricultural market? Does Hamburg have so much in common with Auckland that Auckland can learn? Hardly. If Auckland wants expert advice on anything it ought to turn to its own advisors, who get paid for the job and for consultants on a case by case basis. Would they hire three consultants from Hamburg to fly over and advise Auckland on… whatever? No. It is what it is – a junket – a junket that Auckland property owners pay for compulsorily because Auckland voters chose that council and the Labour led government gave carte blanche for councils to do what they want.
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Of course Daily Telegraph reports the UK faces the same, petty fascist councils wanting to interfere almost endlessly. Prosecuting people for not recycling a piece of cardboard, or putting an envelope in the street rubbish bin that a person carried from home, charging exhorbitant parking fees because you have the wrong car.
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The thing is almost nobody standing for local government wants councils to do less and spend less. Seriously, even the non explicitly leftwing candidates are, almost to a T, big government oriented.
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New Zealand adopted the UK model for local body powers – so watch and learn. Local government in the UK is responsible for far more than in NZ (education and police for example), but its standards are lower than what I’ve seen in some NZ councils.
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Rodney Hide had a Bill that would’ve been a useful first step to dealing with this, but we see what happened to that. Maybe this year you’ll all vote for councils that want to do less and do what they are meant to do, better and more efficiently. I’m not holding my breath.

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