Vance on fake consultation

Andrea Vance writes:

A couple of weeks ago, a document dropped in my inbox. Wellington City Council wants feedback on its goal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

The brochure itself is gorgeous, cheerfully yellow, quixotic photographs of children tending a cabbage patch, or dragging rubbish from a beach, and full of stupefying jargon like “designing out waste.”

Certainly, the comms team have been busy with it. (Too pre-occupied to tell locals about the faulty 15kg street lamps, threatening to brain them from a great height).

But it runs to 80 pages. And honestly, life is too short. Even for me, and I get paid to read consultation papers.

This is the first sign that something is fake consultation. As Andrea says, only the most masochistic would read an 80 page document. If you really wanted lots of people to read and respond you would have a one to four page document.

The pertinent information for busy people, juggling households, families, careers and an already unreliable waste collection service doesn’t come until page 61.

The carrot: a proposed introduction of food and organic waste collection. The stick: the $17 bin bags will be collected fortnightly or monthly. Suck that down with your cup of 12.8% rates rise.

So a true consultation would lead with something along the lines of “Would you support or oppose introducing organic waste collection if it cost you $17 a fortnight”. Not have it buried in Page 61.

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