Swain pushes for union backdown
Paul Swain almost forced Greater Wellington regional council into a U-turn on local government amalgamation last week.
At Wednesday’s council meeting Swain asked his fellow regional councillors to withdraw their submission to the Local Government Commission and five agreed with him.
One more vote would have reversed the council’s position on council reform.
Sue Kedgley, Sandra Greig, Paul Bruce, Ken Laban and Gary McPhee voted with Swain.
The Local Government Commission’s draft plan to reorganise the region’s local bodies is closely based on the Greater Wellington proposal, with a 21-member unitary super council for the region and eight local boards representing current council catchments.
However, a Wellington City Council poll last week found only 26 per cent of the population supported the reform plan.
The amalgamation proposal was ‘‘a dead duck’’, Swain said.
If a referendum were held today 26 per cent would support the proposal and 61 per cent would oppose it, he said.
‘The reality is that there is not support across the board for this proposal,’’ he said.
‘‘The Local Government Commission has really not been able to establish a really robust case.’’
Rather than continue what was likely to be an expensive process on a proposal that was clearly not going to meet the test, the Local Government Commission should withdraw it and put forward something that was more likely to gain support across the region, he said.
Nigel Wilson said there was not going to be a referendum yet. ‘‘That’s months down the track.’’
The Local Government Commission had not made a case, they had merely put forward a draft proposal and accepted responses to it. ‘‘They have done no advocacy.’’
Jenny Brash said there had been hundreds of submissions on the draft proposal and it would not only be undemocratic, but unreasonable to halt it at this late stage.