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A healthy dose of overdue democracy

by 22 Jul 2010Regional governance0 comments

Mayor in bed with Labour

Cynical Bid: Labour, by cynically adopting Rodney District Council’s last-chance private members bill, bought itself a brief opportunity to blame the government for a process Labour itself defined before being dumped. cartoon Majorlook Productions

It has huge appeal.

Many would love to be lord of their own domain, kingdom, republic or, in the case of Rodney district mayors, unitary authority.

Mayor John Law gave it a shot, only to be brought back to Earth by the reality of the cost of delivering the governance required by legislation, which is currently provided by the regional council. Not content to learn from recent history, Mayor Penny Webster made a desperate bid to break away, rather than participate in helping design the region’s new governance arrangements.

The Mahurangi Magazine has published 20 pieces on the new structure since January 2008. The mayor’s contribution was effectively summed up in Parliament yesterday by Tau Henare:

…full of rubbish … put together by people who were trying to protect jobs they were going to lose in the October local body elections.

Mr Henare was, of course, talking about the private member’s bill, which was cynically supported by the Labour, Green and Māori parties. Deservedly, it failed to get a first reading.

Rodney District Council didn’t wait to consult with its constituents before commencing its campaign to go it alone, and spent up on Wellington billboards without so much as a by your leave from the chairman of the finance committee. These same people later proclaimed:

We still do democracy in Rodney!

The sorry fact is that the truly first democratic process in the entire amalgamation process will be from 17 September to 9 October, when the first Auckland Council is elected.

Mrs Webster apparently sees no contradiction in wanting to represent the Rodney ward of the new council; it is to be hoped that the residents of the ward can.

The candidate who does deserve consideration, is current Rodney regional councillor Christine Rose. Mrs Rose fronted up to a Pūhoi Hall packed with over two hundred pro-motorway-access citizens, in an uncompromising mood.

That is leadership.

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