More hysteria

June 17th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn cries out:

Not content with turning Auckland into a dictatorship to prepare it for National’s Wellington-imposed gerrymander, the government is now planning a wider assault on local government democracy, with Environment Minister Nick Smith threatening to appoint administrators to run eight councils if they don’t improve their handling of resource consents.

The Minister certainly has this power (the relevant section is s25 of the ), but it has never been used, and for obvious reasons. Local authorities are democratically elected and accountable to the people. Replacing them, even in the area of resource consent planning and processing, with an unelected administrator removes that accountability. It silences local voices and crushes local democracy. And that is simply not acceptable in a democratic society.

I always enjoy having a diehard supporter of the Electoral Finance Act talk about silencing voices and crushing democracy. I mean really.

Nowhere in the rant does Idiot/Savant offer any criticism of the Councils for the reason they are being threatened with Administrators. It is because they are consistently breaking the law and failing to process resource consents in time. Local bodies are not above the law, and frankly it would be a good thing for them to suffer consequences for sticking it to everday residents by not processing resource conensts within the time frame set out in law. This is not crushing local democracy – this is ensuring local Councils are not above the law.

Also NRT fails to grasp that the Minister has not appointed Administrators. He is using his power to do so as a threat, so that they improve their performance and start obeying the law. This is a good thing.

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31 Responses to “More hysteria”

  1. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Auckland is a dictatorship now?

    No one in Auckland gets to vote anymore?

    Wow!

    Nappy change isle five. Get.a.grip

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  2. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    “Not content with turning Auckland into a dictatorship…”

    Wow, that rumbling out on the street the other day wasn’t the binmen after all. It was clearly a column of tanks flying flags bearing the likeness of John Banks, patrolling the streets of suburban Auckland ready to crush dissent with the jackboot of oppression. Happily, they seem to have emptied the bins while they were at it…

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  3. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    I heard Nick Smith on radio last week on this issue and my immediate thought was “What drugs is this man on?”

    He says councils take too long processing resource consents,

    so

    ratepayers suffer,

    so

    councils should have to pay penalties for each day late in processing a resource consent

    so

    the councli suffers, not the ratepayer.

    I’ll say it again – what drugs is this muppet on? Who pays the penalties? The council or the ratepayers? get a grip, Nick.

    There is NO reason why a government should be able to sack a council; that MUST be the prerogative of the electors.

    Why does the Natioanl Party hate democracy?

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  4. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Looks like billy bonkers is getting into some of phils stuff while we’re on the subject.

    Just say no to punctuation!

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  5. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    come on muzza, just once – address the issue, if you can.

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  6. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    billy – talking of crushing dissent – do you know if NRT allows comments?

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  7. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    Brian, why should I care? its not my blog. Just as DPF makes the rules here, other blog owners make their rules.

    So, back to the point-

    What drugs is Nick Smith in when he says councils can be punished to reward ratepayers, and, Why does the National party hate democracy?

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  8. Michael E (274 comments) says:

    It might have something to do with the raw sewerage being pumped into Akaroa Harbour because Environment Canterbury keep dithering on issuing consents for a treatment plant. That’s punishing ratepayers who live in Akaroa more than any financial penalty would.

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  9. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    My problem is a different one. Councils cook the books to make it look as though they are processing consents within the time frame when all the practioners know they are not.

    So the risk is that Government would be appointing commissioners to run the honest councils, rather than the ones who are doing the real damage.

    The courts have also decided the time frames are only guidelines so they have weakened the Minister’s position. SOme councils who have improved their time frame rating have simply extended the time taken at the other end. There is not much benefit in granting a resource consent within twenty days if the applicant then has to wait for two years to get everything else in place.

    The survey should be changed to measure the time between the date of application and the time of issue of the 224(c) certificate or sign-off of all conditions for land use. These two dates are easily established. There are too many loopholes around the consenting period.

    You cannot run this sort of monitoring out of wellington. Each region needs its own RMA ombudsman. That would soon sort it out because the RMA Ombudsman would be able to properly assess the administration of each consent and apply the discounting rules with authority.

    But I am out of the RMA loop now. So my opinions don’t matter.

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  10. burt (7,091 comments) says:

    Once again NRT displays why comments will not be tolerated. The truth according to Idiot/Savant cannot be challenged !

    He is obviously incapable of making a good argument and so insecure that he can’t face it – spin on Idiot/Savant – we love you reminding us why the left were rejected last year. Imbecile.

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  11. MikeG (359 comments) says:

    From my one close encounter with the RMA (as an interested party in a neighbouring development) it seems that a lot of the delay was because the applicant didn’t provide all the necessary information in the first place. This required the Council to keep going back to the applicant for more information before it could be appropriately processed. Does the clock stop in instances like that?

    In Auckland there seems to be a shortage of Council planners, requiring the Council to outsource to planning companies, and there appears to be very little consistency in the standard of their work (from planners both inside and outside Council).

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  12. coolas (105 comments) says:

    C’mon Billy – it’s obvious Nick IS taking his medication. Unfortunately there’s a nasty side effect. Meglalomania. I hear he and Rodney have the same doctor.

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  13. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    How can you punish councils but reward Ratepayers? Surely if the councils have to incur increased costs the ratepayers are the ones to suffer.
    Half the problem is caused by referral authorities who are based in Wellington. Minister may want to look in own backyard before opening mouth.

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  14. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    That would NEVER do, that might require him to take some action too close to home.

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  15. Jcw (97 comments) says:

    “Replacing them, even in the area of resource consent planning and processing, with an unelected administrator removes that accountability.”

    What a load of bs, firing them is accoutability in action!

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  16. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Jcw many anarchists may agree with you. Why don’t we get away with all building and planning requirements and let anyone build whatever they like. Then we could get rid of the govt.

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  17. tknorriss (326 comments) says:

    I think that Nick Smith has a good point here. Projects dangling in limbo in the ether somewhere are not doing anything to help the economy. If those projects can be put through the consent process more quickly, then the economic benefits from these projects will be realised more quickly, thus being beneficial for jobs and the economy generally.

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  18. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    Are you advocating all consent applications be approved?

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  19. tknorriss (326 comments) says:

    Of course not!! And that is just a silly interpretation of what I said. However, if projects are being held up due to inefficient council processes, then, obviously, removing the inefficiency and getting the projects through will have major benefits for the economy. Do you actually have any problem if council processes become more efficient, billy?

    This type of improvement is something that can practically be done to help the economy without having to mortgage future generations to the hilt, as Labour would want to.

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  20. david (2,482 comments) says:

    bchapman made the most relevant comment in response to the porker’s rant. Now Billy, can you please explain in words of one syllable just how you can penalise a council. Everyone with an ounce or more of grey matter knows that councils treat the ratepayer as the “lender of last resort” such that they just tap into the rates system whenever they need cash. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that the buck ALWAYS stops with the ratepayers.
    Councils cannot exist as entities in their own right, they are just a kind of co-operative.

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  21. bharmer (686 comments) says:

    It always pisses me off when idiots blame Wellington … the people who are driving this, though they come to Wellington when parliament is in session are not Wellingtonians. As far as I recall, John Key lives in Parnell, and represents Helensville. Rodney Hide is from Epsom. “Wellington-imposed gerrymander” my butt!

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  22. tknorriss (326 comments) says:

    Smith has written to the councils concerned asking them to explain WHY consents are taking so long to be processed.

    Smith is giving them an opportunity to sort the problem out. If some of the councils can’t come up with adequate explanations, and if they are not prepared to make changes, then, obviously, they are lazy, clueless SOB’s who don’t deserve to be in the positions of authority they hold.

    This being the case, then it is the RIGHT thing for Smith to usurp their ineptness with someone who can do the job better.

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  23. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    ACtually, you can penalise the Council without unreasonably hurting ratepayers.
    Remember that most applicants are ratepayers.
    The applicants pay all the costs, even extra costs imposed by obectors who get a free ride.
    Many councils use outside consultants who hold a monopoly contract.
    Is such cases the proposed amendment says if an applicant is late then the council discounts the charges to the applicant either in whole or in part. So Council would dock the consultant.

    However, if the council is doing the processing and had to recover only say half its costs then that would show up in the monthly cash flow and Councillors who have to face the electorate would soon put pressure on their staff to perform. At present there are no incentives to perform.

    RE: Section 92 requests for extra information. Yes, some applications are deficient and councils do have to ask for extra information.
    But this is the most abused power. It is easy to decide that council needs more information just so it can “stop the clock”. One way is to require consultation with Iwi, even without legal basis. That slows things down, especially if no one is sure who to consult with.

    I offered to process my council’s consents on a fixed fee basis. that encourages efficiency. That was such a shocking idea to the gravy train that I never even got to an interview. (Council adds a ten percent premium to its consultants charges.) I also suggested there be two consultants so we had the benefit of competition. Naturally that was rejected too.

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  24. hannity (138 comments) says:

    As minister for the environment,Smith’s directive to councils to speed up consents,surely would come with the proviso,to err on the side of caution .wouldn’t it ?

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  25. adamsmith1922 (879 comments) says:

    NRT

    blogger who cannot take comment

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  26. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    The left only care about the amalgamation of local councils because that’s where most of their power derives, in the education boards and community outreach offices.

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  27. adamsmith1922 (879 comments) says:

    NRT

    who cares, much of NRT is rubbish

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  28. Jcw (97 comments) says:

    “Jcw many anarchists may agree with you. Why don’t we get away with all building and planning requirements and let anyone build whatever they like. Then we could get rid of the govt.”

    That wasn’t what I was saying. I was arguing that firing people for doing a crap/inefficient job = accountability. You cannot dispute that.

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  29. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Jcw- Don’t argue with you about getting rid of poor performers, believe me, Local Govt is full of them- the PSU protects them every step of the way. Did you hear of anyone being made accountable for passing all those leaking buildings?

    Only problem is that someone has to assess resource applications then make a decision. They need to be accountable to someone who is elected by ratepayers.

    I’d prefer if Ministers talk about solutions (better quality council management, simplifying RMA and local plans, better trained resourced staff, allowing less frivolous objections etc..), fining councils and threatening bluster won’t work, its the poor sucker who ends up in the leaky home that suffers.

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  30. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    You’re a fucking joke borker.

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  31. freethinker (648 comments) says:

    bchapman (108) Vote: 10 0 Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    How can you punish councils but reward Ratepayers? Surely if the councils have to incur increased costs the ratepayers are the ones to suffer.
    Half the problem is caused by referral authorities who are based in Wellington. Minister may want to look in own backyard before opening mouth.

    How about this to encourage efficiency – make the department head personally responsible for unjustified delay – say 1% reduction in salary for each delay with the power for the dept head to pass this through to the staff member involved – result responsibility & accountability plus lower salary costs for ratepayer to pay.

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