Wellington's civic square photo credit: noizyboy via photopin cc

Some things are super. Superman for example. The league of 15 rugby union teams in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Discovering $5 in your pocket when you’ve an unquenchable desire for Pineapple Lumps.  All unquestionably super, either in terms of nomenclature or sheer inducement of excitement. Democracy too, is pretty super. Or at least it’s the least worst option for the mass governance of a population. I suppose it’s down to your definition, as most things are.

Last week a proposal was presented for the creation of a Wellington Super City, combining 9 councils into one council with 8 subsidiary boards representing the different regions covered by the new body. Currently, there are 170 elected representatives covering the area. The new proposals condense that down to a mere 82 representatives, comprising of a single Mayor, 21 Councillors and 60 Local Board members.

the Auckland Council took central control over an increasing proportion of services

Concerns are being raised, not least from the extant members who can see their roles being subsumed into the Greater Wellington. Some warnings too from board members in Auckland who, despite being promised local devolution, have seen their ability to make decisions reduced as the Auckland Council took central control over an increasing proportion of services. The proposal as is claims greater devolution, but nothing is set in stone as yet.

Local Government is the unsexy part of politics. There’s little glamour in it, but it is home to some of the most dedicated public servants. Actually, those two things are probably linked. But what it is, to many, is a connection to their Government that doesn’t come in a letter from the IRD or WINZ. It’s about getting the rubbish collected, sorting out the parking and ensuring the other stuff that the big dog politicians wouldn’t touch gets done.

What it must be, though, is representative

What it must be, though, is representative. People should know who their local councillor or board member is, and that councillor or board member should have a ward or constituency of responsibility to which they can reasonably be expected to serve to the best of their ability. By reducing the number of councillors and board members, what may seem like a bureaucratic clean-up only increases the number of constituents per elected member/councillor, and their workload.

the proposal is open to public submission until 2nd March, 2015

Can we decry political apathy, wring our hands over the ‘missing million’ and yet plan to reduce the number of democratically elected representatives? Is it right that we concentrate more and more power in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals? What effect will that have over the role of those who do not subscribe to a political party, as the cost of standing for a local board or council seat expands with the new boundaries? Do we want a situation where, like our national Government, the table is pretty much set for two with scraps thrown to a chosen few?

If you have some answers to these questions, the proposal is open to public submission until 2nd March, 2015. Why not participate?

About John Palethorpe (10 Articles)
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.
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