John Key – keep your grubby hands of Local Body Councils!
At a recent Local Government conference in Queenstown, John Key exhorted local body councils to “reign in” spending and “focus on core services”,
” The Government proposes axing the community wellbeings from the Local Government Act to make councils focus on ”core responsibilities” and reduce the rates burden on constituents. “
This theme of “core services” is one that National has been banging-on about since Nick Smith was Local Government Minister. In May of this year, Smith’s replacement as LG Minister, David Carter, was interviewed on TVNZ’s Q+A.
To suggest that he was sending “mixed messages” was fairly evident. But interviewer Greg Boyd managed to elicit responses from Carter that revealed National’s obessesive mania for local governments to stick to “core services”,
GREG BOYD Well, hold on. It sounds like the Government’s wanting a bob each way in this. They’re wanting to say they keep in touch with what’s happening with the rates, but they’re only to go and do core services at a local level or not. Which way is it to go?
DAVID CARTER We are not saying that councils can only do core services. If you take my Christchurch City Council, for example, and it runs the Ellerslie Flower Show in Hagley Park. You could argue that’s not a core service. The council has determined that there is value in delivering that show for the people of Christchurch, and, frankly, I meet a lot of people on planes who are travelling from all over New Zealand to come to that. The council’s decision is to run the Ellerslie Flower Show, and that is a decision for the council to make. It’s certainly not a decision for central government to make or for myself as minister.
GREG BOYD So you are limiting local government? They are going to be in charge of very basic things and numbers and keeping an eye on rates. You are limiting their scope quite a bit.
DAVID CARTER We’re certainly going to get local government to be far more focused on what activities it undertakes. In the past, some councils have stepped too far and undertaken activities, Hamilton city, for example, with the Grand Prix racing. I think that was an activity that went far beyond where local government should have gone. It cost local government in that area a lot of money. We’re not saying you cannot run race cars; we’re saying you need to think very very carefully before undertaking that activity. And by putting these financial management tests in place, I think councils will think more carefully about some of those longer-term extraneous activities they’re undertaking than they did in the past.
So the upshot is;
- Flower Shows – good
- Grand Prix racing – bad
No doubt local government bodies will await further diktats from the Minister as to what is permissable and what is not. (And it;’s laughable how National painted Labour as “nanny statist?!”)
Yet, National is not averse to spending tax-payers money on events that are not Central Government “core services”,
National had no qualms in spending $39 million of our money on rugby. On top of that, they supported the spending of a further $200 million of public money on the Games.
And National certainly doesn’t seem to mind when SEO’s paid out $54 million in “performance bonuses” to their staff in 2011, with power companies spending the highest.
Perhaps John Key and National should look at themselves first as to what they are spending our taxes on.
Especially when recent disclosures to Radio NZ reveal that private consultants have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars for “advice” of dubious quality and necessity.
This blogger detects not just the sickly-sweet stench of hypocrisy on this issue, but signs of National’s propensity for heavy-handed, ideologically-motivated, State interference where they are not welcomed, nor justified.
National has it’s own “core services” to focus on – unemployment, stagnating economy, low wages, New Zealanders leaving for Australia, and deeply unpopular programmes of state asset sales, charter schools, mining, school league tables, alcohol abuse, etc .
National should be focusing in their own backyard – because from where I sit, they have enough of a mess to clean up, without peering over the fence onto other people’s “turf”.
We’re still waiting for those 170,000 new jobs, Dear Leader.
= fs =