Plan to axe com­mit­tees a ma­jor step back­wards

Central Otago Mirror - - OPINION -

Our Mayor’s plan to axe the four com­mit­tees our coun­cil­lors use to dis­cuss and de­bate key is­sues doesn’t come as much of a sur­prise. Sounds like they’ll be re­placed by a coun­cil meet­ing a month plus an Au­dit and Risk Com­mit­tee back­filled with hand­picked ‘busi­ness peo­ple’. The im­pli­ca­tion be­ing that th­ese ‘busi­ness peo­ple’ have the fi­nan­cial ex­per­tise we need to run our dis­trict ‘prop­erly’, un­like the coun­cil­lors we voted in a few weeks ago. Thirty re­lent­less years of new right think­ing have nor­malised the idea that we need more busi­ness in ev­ery­thing. We hardly recog­nise it as an ide­o­log­i­cal po­si­tion any­more. More busi­ness in gov­ern­ment brought us the as­set sales farce. The low turnout and low prices achieved through the Merid­ian share float make a mock­ery of the idea this will au­to­mat­i­cally give us good fi­nan­cial out­comes. The process stripped share value out of the sys­tem and it’s failed to con­vinceMum and Dad in­vestors that the share­mar­ket is a bet­ter strat­egy than lotto, the pok­ies or home own­er­ship. Per­haps spec­u­la­tors have their lim­i­ta­tions, just like other cit­i­zens. Par­tic­i­pa­tory democ­racy is sup­posed to in­volve a wide range of peo­ple

Coun­cil­lors with di­verse back­grounds in ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial work, gov­ern­ment ser­vice, comms, me­dia, small busi­ness and the law are an as­set, not a li­a­bil­ity.

in com­mu­nity de­ci­sion mak­ing. That way all sorts of per­spec­tives get taken into ac­count. Coun­cil­lors with di­verse back­grounds in ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial work, gov­ern­ment ser­vice, comms, me­dia, small busi­ness and the law are an as­set, not a li­a­bil­ity. Good gov­ern­ment serves the pub­lic good, me­di­at­ing be­tween the var­i­ous civil and com­mer­cial in­ter­ests in so­ci­ety. With the CEO and our Mayor al­ready com­ing down on the busi­ness side of the fence, maybe the peo­ple stood, and voted for, can­di­dates that would act as a coun­ter­weight to bal­ance de­ci­sion mak­ing. An­i­mal Farm read­ers will re­call the mo­ment of truth when the pigs and the men couldn’t be told apart any­more. How blurred do we want the bound­aries be­tween busi­ness and our gov­ern­ment? ◗ Sue Coutts lives in Hawea Flat, man­ages Wanaka Waste­busters and is in­ter­ested in al­most ev­ery­thing.

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