Dom Post on Wellington Councils

The Dom Post editorial:

“Turkeys,” Richard Prebble once observed, “don’t vote for an early Christmas.” The former Labour Cabinet minister and ACT leader was commenting on the improbability of politicians voting to reduce the size of Parliament, but his words hold just as true for local body politicians contemplating a potential shakeup of local government.

Why would the plethora of mayors and councillors in the region act to do themselves out of jobs? The answer is they won’t.

Just as many Mayors in Auckland were against the Auckland reforms.

If the region is to follow Auckland’s example and amalgamate its nine councils into a single body, it will be in spite of local government politicians not because of them. With a handful of notable exceptions, Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde prominent among them, the region’s local body politicians have determinedly stonewalled all attempts to initiate change.

The issue goes beyond Wellington also. I am gravitating to the view that two levels of local government is too much for a country our size.  I think unitary authorities are the way of the future, so you don’t have millions wasted in lawsuits, liaison and consultations between regional councils and territorial authorities.

Whether the region would be better served by a single council covering the whole region, or whether it would be better served by two or three unitary councils, is an open question. So is the balance of responsibilities between regionally elected councillors and local community representatives. However, the need for reform is not.

The debate should be about the nature of reform. The status quo is simply ridiculous.

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