Wairarapa towns and communities each have their own valued heritage and distinctive social, environmental and economic characteristics. These distinctive characteristics and valued heritages are at threat through externally imposed uniform standards and processes, often cited as ‘Best Practice’. ‘Best Practice’ is typically the view of a group of people about a process or standard in a single or a few given situations. It does not mean that it is relevant to all situations in the nature of a universal truth.
For the Wairarapa, ‘Best Practice’ is in fact only best practice when it is relevant considering the social, environmental and economic context. The heritage, culture and distinctive character of each community should not to be sacrificed to accommodate ‘Best Practices’ invented elsewhere to create a damaging and irrelevant sameness across the Wairarapa.
The proposal by the LGC to restructure the current district councils into a single entity is based on:
- Flawed information, research and analysis.
- Unreliable statements of cost and benefits that obscure significant risks to ratepayers.
- Substantial ignorance of the distinctive characteristics of the towns and communities across the region.
- The pursuit of ideological goals like best practice, centralisation and increased control, benefits of scale and the rest of the rhetoric of excess managerialism that all lead to organisational detachment from service consumers, communities and ratepayers and a morass of mediocre performance, obfuscation and increased risk to people and communities.
It is a widely accepted general principle that restructuring should only take place where there are clearly defined target benefits and when measures of performance have been agreed and when and accountability for the achievement of results have been established. To do otherwise dramatically increases the probability that the change will create risks and fail to deliver valued results. There is simply no point in restructuring when these pre-conditions have not been met. It is putting the cart before the horse and is a “solution” looking for a problem!
The proposed restructure is not focussed on solving a specific problem or contributing to the realisation of a specific benefit or opportunity. It is not aligned to the provision of good local government for the purpose, role and operating principles set out in law – the Local Government Act.
There is a need for local government in the Wairarapa to be improved and there are identified ways in which this can be achieved locally without immediate structural change.
Putting it another way
It has no point
The LGC can’t define why it should be done. It has not said what the problem is that will be fixed. It has not specified how it will make anything better apart from a few pie in the sky wishy washy desires of its own. It places the huge costs and risks of a mindless restructure of local government on the people of the Wairarapa for no specific purpose or gain.
It's not about good Local Government
Local government by law is supposed to:
- Enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and
- Meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses.
There are no facts provided to show why we should believe that our infrastructure and services will be any better.
Ideology and theory
It is driven by ideology and theory: “best practice” “bigger is better” and all of the baffling waffle and excesses of managerialism that have ever been invented.
The LGC doesn’t understand geography, heritage and culture of our towns. They fantasise that we’ll all be better off if we have our affairs controlled under one set of irrelevant grey rules largely invented by and handed down from central government bureaucrats.
Costs from Cloudcuckoo Land
The costs and benefits stated by the LGC are flawed and understated. The IT costs are based on a wet finger guess and don’t reflect the costs of a complete solution. The LGC’s has an abysmal history of restructuring in Auckland where there were 16% rate increases and where IT costs blown out from their estimate of $71m to over $151m and are still climbing! No one personally or part of an organisation would put up money on the basis of such a shonky guess at costs.
Less representation improves local democratic decision making?
The restructuring will result in less representation - so much for “local democratic decision making”.
It will be harder for you to get your voice heard. You’ll have to deal with a single central standard monolithic bureaucracy with a single set of rules and policies even if initially it has hollow outposts in our towns.
Who actually wants it?
The LGC claims it has support for the restructuring – it had 68% opposition to the draft proposal, the final is not much different and it manipulated a later survey to enable it to claim wide support. It also claims it worked on the proposal with local Councils yet there is little evidence of that.
The weak and deficient proposal to restructure Local Government in the Wairarapa Is a meritless solution for a problem that doesn’t exist except in the minds of the the Local Government Commission and it should be rejected.