Simon Woolf on the WCC

July 25th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Cr Simon Woolf writes on Facebook:

Oh my gosh. What must you all be thinking! Two Dom Post articles exposing poor council/ Councillor culture within two days.

I can tell you it has not been the happiest time for me in the past near three years!

I thought I could make a difference, and bring a more collaborative cohesive approach to council. To a degree there is collaboration, however there isn’t a sense of team, and much on the collaborative side of things takes quite some effort. I have tried my best. At times it has been so frustrating!

There are a lot more areas that are agreed on, than aren’t, however when disagreement does occurs it has been often bitter. Lines are drawn, and often certain Councillors overstep. Some Councillors have been overstepping for a considerable time too! The culture has developed where certain Councillors get away with things as there are no consequences for poor behavior. That has really surprised me. When there are no consequences the discipline and focus goes. Personalities become egocentric, and forget why they are Councillors. It becomes about them, and not the city. It guts me!

From almost day one, I was amazed by the baggage some long term Councillors brought to the new triennium. At our first workshop together, which ironically was at the Zoo, two re elected Councillors walked out, after altercations with other re elected Councillors.

I made my first big mistake that day, and managed to get everyone back in the room! One long standing Councillor, whose behavior has been appalling this term, should have been isolated then and there, and for the good of the city. I ended up chairing a good proportion of the rest of the workshop. The worst part was that the poor behavior was played out in front of the Executive Leadership team. That was unacceptable, and I certainly spoke out as to how I felt that was so damaging. I have been left shaking my head many times ever since!

We deserve better.

This council’s performance has been less than effective at times due to a lack of teamwork. The squabbling and in fighting has at times been shameful. I can tell you there are Councillors who are not party to the poor behavior, and do not play dirty! We are all being tainted by association, and that is also frustrating..

I mentioned baggage earlier, and one of the areas I will be pushing Central Government for, re elected, or not, will be to look at limited terms for Councillors, and also Mayors. Wellington would be ideal for a trial too. We need a change, which mostly revolves around culture. I would propose no Councillor should be able to serve more than two four year terms. Mayors and Deputy Mayors, could have a further two, or maybe even three, four year terms, if re elected. ( If you get an exceptional leader, you don’t wish to lose them too early!)

The Deputy Mayor should very much be given the ability for an extra term or two also. The most successful tenure Wellington has seen in it’s history, was when Sir Michael Fowler was Mayor, and Ian Lawrence was his Deputy. They were a team. Sir Michael was the creative visionary, and out front, while Ian was the administrative strength, who crossed the “t’s” and dotted the “i’s”!

I saw a similar model last year, first hand in Los Angeles, with the city of Arcadia, Their model ensured a continual refresh of vision, governance, leadership and ideology. A couple of their current Councillors served the maximum 8 years, were then forced to sit out a further four, and were then re elected again. The break is seen as being very positive. After what I have seen in this triennium we need to consider a new model of governance. It should be a priority. Civic governance should not be a job for life!

I agree.

Hide supports term limits for politicians

October 19th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I have been a very long standing advocate for term limits for MPs.  In fact as a Young National in the early 1990s I gained a fair bit of media attention for my remit proposing a maximum of six terms for MPs. The Herald pointed out the only two National MPs it would have impacted are then PM Jim Bolger and Bill Birch!

Rodney Hide writes in NBR:

Mr Goff joined the Labour Party at 16 and became an MP in 1981. He has been a politician his entire life. The key to his political survival is his excessive caution and extreme flexibility.

Mr Goff has never made a do-or-die stand and, indeed, has travelled the entire political spectrum and back again. He has been against free trade, for free trade and now he’s against again.

Actually he is back in favour again it seems.

We need the simple rule that an MP can only serve a maximum of four terms. That one change would transform politics. We would have citizen politicians again.

They would represent us rather than themselves.

Politicians would have to have careers outside of politics. The bulk of their experience would be outside of politics rather than politics itself.

I think four is a bit short with three year terms. But if we had four year terms, then four four year terms would be about right – 16 years. More than enough time to make a contribution and move on.

With term limits all that would change. One quarter of the Parliament would be retired every election. There would be a proper churn. Political candidates could have a great career in business, in sport, the arts, in health, in life and then stand. 

They could stand in their mid-50s, have a good chance of making it in, have a good chance of becoming a minister and even a chance of being prime minister. They would be retired in their 60s.

Everyday people could stand for high office. Mums with their children now off their hands. Working people who know about life. We could elect business leaders and sporting heroes. Everyone would have an opportunity to stand.

Not sure everybody would have an opportunity, but knowing a parliamentary career would be for a finite period would make it easier to plan.

More importantly MPs would focus on what can they achieve in their limited time in Parliament, rather than just how do they stay on as long as possible.

Term Limits in Cuba

February 26th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

AP reports:

Raul Castro announced Sunday that he will step down as Cuba’s president in 2018 following a final five-year term, for the first time putting a date on the end of the Castro era. He tapped rising star Miguel Diaz-Canel as his top lieutenant and first in the line of succession.

The 81-year-old Castro also said he hopes to establish two-term limits and age caps for political offices including the presidency – an astonishing prospect for a nation led by Castro or his older brother Fidel since their 1959 revolution.

That would be a very good thing.

Communist dictatorships all too often turn into a type of feudal monarchy. We see this in North Korea, and Cuba looked to be heading that way.

I think term limits are an excellent thing as they mean no one person remains in power for ever, and as importantly focus politicians on what they can achieve in their limited time in the top job rather than trying to hang on forever.

Since taking over from Fidel in 2006, Castro has instituted a slate of important economic and social changes, expanding private enterprise, legalizing a real estate market and relaxing hated travel restrictions.

Still, the country remains ruled by the Communist Party and any opposition to it lacks legal recognition.

A long way to go, but at least heading in the right direction.

Term limits for List MPs?

January 17th, 2012 at 4:58 pm by David Farrar

In my blog at Stuff, I moot whether we should have term limits for List MPs, as a way to respond to the issue of people not liking defeated electorate candidates coming in on the list.

The case for term limits

December 16th, 2011 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

In my column at the NZ Herald I make a case for term limits:

I still believe a term limit of say six terms would be a good thing for New Zealand. If MPs knew that they had a maximum tenure in Parliament, I believe they would focus more on what they could achieve during that limited time, rather than be focused on how to get re-elected time after time after time.

Arguably one could also have a term limit for the top job of Prime Minister also. Isn’t nine years enough for any one person to make a contribution?

I hope the constitutional review will consider term limits as an issue.