Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Totally Local

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  • Russell Brown,

    Doing it this way is more fun, and gets an hour devoted solely to the topic, rather than a 10-minute call. And at the end of it, you get a Hansard record of exactly where everyone stood - which is quite useful on an issue like this.

    I think the profile and associated discussion is the real benefit there.

    Interestingly, I asked Phil on the panel at Locally Left tonight whether he'd be happy with something like a council supermajority requirement (eg: 75%) to achieve the same goal -- making asset sales hard -- and he said that he would.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Doing it this way is more fun, and gets an hour devoted solely to the topic, rather than a 10-minute call.

    [Parliamentary procedure nerd alert]

    The first reading debate of a member's bill is a 65-minute debate; and calls in the general debate are 5 minutes each, not 10.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    It reeks of way too cute politics and it is destined to fail.

    And this is a more obvious way to point out Act's hypocrisy.

    About that, the charge of hypocrisy is going to be what? I mean the Labour party is arguing that it is perfectly okay to place barriers in the way of councils operation.

    Interestingly, I asked Phil on the panel at Locally Left tonight whether he'd be happy with something like a council supermajority requirement (eg: 75%) to achieve the same goal -- making asset sales hard -- and he said that he would.

    See, on principle Phil has no problem with erecting democratic barriers to council operation.

    What happens when Act/National places a barrier on council operation? Hypocrisy possibly doesn't mean what you think it means.

    The only possible gotcha is that you get to point out that they are acting like right wing parties and instituting a cap on taxation. And that when it comes down to it is very piss poor, because the public actually knows that Act/National are right wing parties, in Nationals case we have known this for half a f#%king century. All the failure of this bill delivers is that National are not prepared to place barriers favoured by left wing parties on city councils - this again is absolutely the f#*king opposite of news and/or hypocrisy.

    Newsflash to the dense and possibly braindead Labour Party - the public of NZ is aware that National and Act are right wing political parties, have done for a while now. Nevertheless we voted for them because they promised to be centrist and not sell any of the family silver and they offered tax cuts.

    Short story - if Labour had wanted to prevent the passage of the rates cap they should have objected to the very notion of referendum driven direct government - based on the copious evidence presented by the collapse of California. Instead they have gone with Phil Twyford's notion that referendum are 'A-Ok with us'. So we are looking likely to have 5, 8 or 11 years (depending on how efficient Labour are at recapturing the treasury benches - I am not hopeful) of rate caps on city councils. When Labour recapture the benches in 2020 Phil Twyford will be able to stick this bill thru quicksmart and prevent the sale of the one remaining public library/sewage works in NZ.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    And i'll even provide a moral, no additional charge.

    There is a time and a place for MPs to endorse innovative and by all accounts highly effective vehicles for agenda driven policy. The time is in the first term of government and the place is from the Treasury Benches. Because when these two factors align you can drive your policy agenda through effectively and innovatively.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Doing it this way is more fun,

    Oh, great, I knew I was paying my taxes for something...

    That would only achieve the first purpose though. And this is a more obvious way to point out Act's hypocrisy.

    Jesus fucking Christ, Joshua -- so now they don't let Twyford issue press releases, talk to the media or anyone else without supervision? Sorry, Joshua, but saying "fuck you" to Rodney Hide is a petty and piss poor use of Parliamentary time, but whatever floats your boat.

    Interestingly, I asked Phil on the panel at Locally Left tonight whether he'd be happy with something like a council supermajority requirement (eg: 75%) to achieve the same goal -- making asset sales hard -- and he said that he would.

    And does Phil support a council supermajority to make covert asset purchases (like the Westhaven Marina and Queen's Wharf) equally difficult?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    First, the usual disclaimer that nothing I say here is on behalf of any of the Auckland local body organisations that I am connected with, just my private views.

    Angus, I understand from our discussions here that Hide's hypocrisy is his promotion of a Bill requiring widespread Council referendums while at the same time pushing through under urgency a Bill that removed the pre-existing standard requirement for a referendum of citizens for major changes to Auckland's local governance arrangements. It's hardly the stuff of principle.

    However, Twyford's private Bill seems mainly a response to well-canvassed fears of asset-stripping without proper checks and balances - including usual Parliamentary scrutiny of the initial Bill which gave huge powers to the hand-picked Transition Authority. As Russell notes, Twyford sounds flexible about how that goal is achieved. I doubt his Bill is really expected to go anywhere other than providing some topical focus and perhaps leverage.

    I agree that none of us should be surprised when a right-wing government sells down state assets and services in favour of the private sector. The approach seems different when it's about this country's huge private sector debt, for some reason. Maybe someone can explain that one for me.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    That's a really interesting way of looking at it Angus:

    ACT supports referendums on spending decisions so is hypocritical if it opposes referendums on selling decisions.

    Labour supports referendums on selling decisions so is hypocritical if it opposes referendums on spending decisions.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    gave huge powers to the hand-picked Transition Authority

    Here's a recent example:

    Just a one liner at the bottom of a Supercity story in the Herald today, to the effect that the TA has taken upon itself the legal powers to appoint the second and third tier of officers for the new council. It had previously been given the job of appointing the CEO. This means that all General and Group Manager equivalents will be chosen by the TA, leaving [only] the team leader level to the new council.

    And that referenced Herald quote:

    Mr Kerr-Newell said the agency had also extended its legal powers to appoint a new council chief executive to staff at the next two tiers down.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Brian Murphy,

    Referenda are a little binary too, in 1992 the Swiss (78.7%) of them at least voted 49.7% yes and 50.3% no to joining the European economic area.

    Since then they have been negotiating their way into the bits of Europe they want to be part of. A time consuming and expensive process.

    That particular referendum was split very much along cultural lines.

    After something like that you still have to live next to your neighbours the next day, and accept the result.

    So representative democracy where there feels like you have a connection to your representative and can influence him/her is more likely to achieve the better compromise.

    At large elected councillors on a top down run supercity seems a far cry from that, so in that case living with referenda may be the better alternative.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As Russell notes, Twyford sounds flexible about how that goal is achieved. I doubt his Bill is really expected to go anywhere other than providing some topical focus and perhaps leverage.

    I think that's the case, which is why it's so fortunate for him that it's been drawn at precisely the time that these issues are being formally discussed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Interestingly, I asked Phil on the panel at Locally Left tonight whether he'd be happy with something like a council supermajority requirement (eg: 75%) to achieve the same goal -- making asset sales hard -- and he said that he would.

    Sounds reasonable; we use that sort of supermajority as a proxy for widespread assent in the Electoral Act. Guess a select committee will have something to talk about if it makes it there then.

    [Parliamentary procedure nerd alert]

    I bow to your superior nerd-dom.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Referenda are a little binary too, in 1992 the Swiss (78.7%) of them at least voted 49.7% yes and 50.3% no to joining the European economic area.

    Representative democracy and parliamentary law-making are just as binary. How would it be any different if 49.7% of MPs voted yes, and 50.3% voted no on legislation that would mean Switzerland would join the European economic area?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The people are exactly the silly arseholes I'm talking about. But for all of the current problems of California, the system being decried here as though it were a serious criticism of direct democracy rather than a cherry picking farce, is the exact same system that also made California incredibly rich and desirable in the first place. Which it will continue to be when the dust settles.

    I suspect climate, location, illegal immigrants, and Hollywood had a bit more to do with making California rich and desirable than their referenda system.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Brian Murphy,

    Representative democracy and parliamentary law-making are just as binary. How would it be any different if 49.7% of MPs voted yes, and 50.3% voted no on legislation that would mean Switzerland would join the European economic area?

    With representative democracy you are a step removed, it was not all those Swiss Germans that voted the other way, but their representatives. Or country bumpkins, or mainlanders...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Given that that's what money is anyway, that's not too much difference.

    Except for the fact that the word of the State of California really isn't worth as much as the word of the United States of America.

    Representative democracy and parliamentary law-making are just as binary.

    But you can amend bills and so-on, which would be impossible (certainly impracticable) with referenda. So, yes, each part of a bill either passes or fails, but there's more choice.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1263 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Given that that's what money is anyway, that's not too much difference.

    But normally money is an IOU given out when there's actually something to back it up.

    In this case it's an IOU given out because the state doesn't have anything to back it up.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Given that that's what money is anyway, that's not too much difference.

    huh? Money is legal tender, not an IOU. California doesn't issue money, it uses money issued by the Federal Reserve. If you have to call money an IOU, it's an IOU that's backed by the issuing bank. California doesn't have any issuing banks, ergo it's a really fucking huge difference since the IOUs aren't supported by anything other than the state's assets.

    As for California's bankruptcy, I suspect people probably mean insolvency. That is, can't pay its bills as they fall due. If you were to liquidate the assets of the state, I think it'd probably be quite healthy. Plenty of prime real estate, lots of roads, etc. Bankruptcy is when liabilities exceed assets, and I really don't think California is that far in the red.
    When you consider that California, were it to be split off from the US, would be the world's fourth-largest economy, it's pretty scary that they've fucked themselves right into such a massive hole. Gotta love it when you let self-interested folk get a hold of the purse strings.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    And just to clarify why money isn't an "IOU", it's because fiat money isn't backed by anything. It has value because we all believe that it has value and because the government passes legislation to say that it has value. You can't redeem the money for anything by presenting it to the issuer, which is what an IOU actually represents: a promise to pay, not a means of payment.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Graham,

    Act/National are right wing political parties - they support empowering taxpayers to limit taxes. Labour are a left wing political party - they support empowering communities to protect council assets. Is it hypocritical for them to behave in ways 100% consistent with their political leanings?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Graham,

    Oops - I meant:

    Graeme,

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Angus, the hypocrisy on Act's part, if things play out as expected, will be in saying that referenda are good enough for keeping councils from raising rates but not good enough for stopping councils flogging off assets that they own on behalf of the rate-payers.

    We all know that a core tenet of Act's beliefs is that councils shouldn't own anything at all, but that if they must own things it should be restricted to roads and such buildings are are necessary for the council to operate. Certainly they shouldn't be involved with ports, water supply, libraries (though Rodney's mum may well ensure we don't get deprived of those particular council assets), or any of a multitude of other fixed assets that Auckland's councils currently own. The big one, of course, being water. Rodney's on record as wanting water privatised, and that's why people are so terrified of letting a handful of his hand-picked apostles get absolute control of Auckland's water assets.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3889 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    Jesus fucking Christ, Joshua -- so now they don't let Twyford issue press releases, talk to the media or anyone else without supervision? Sorry, Joshua, but saying "fuck you" to Rodney Hide is a petty and piss poor use of Parliamentary time, but whatever floats your boat.

    Craig surely you realise the purpose of a private member's bill half the time is to raise the awareness of an issue - either to pressure the government into adopting the bill (unlikely in this situation) or to just simply raise the public awareness of the issue (which clearly worked).

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig surely you realise the purpose of a private member's bill half the time is to raise the awareness of an issue - either to pressure the government into adopting the bill (unlikely in this situation) or to just simply raise the public awareness of the issue (which clearly worked).

    Joshua: My private consensual sexual intercourse with a adult of the same gender is no longer a crime because of a private member's bill. I found that a rather worthwhile use of Parliamentary time. Phil Twyford playing "fuck you" silly buggers with Rodney Hide, not so much. And if politicians want to "raise awareness" of an issue, I was under the impression we generously resource them to do just that without reducing the private member's bill to a joke.

    If politicians want to be taken seriously, they should behave like serious people. That is all.

    Though to be fair, I guess I should be thankful Twyford isn't trying to get this nonsense on the statute books. Yet.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Josh,

    Craig surely you realise the purpose of a private member's bill half the time is to raise the awareness of an issue - either to pressure the government into adopting the bill (unlikely in this situation) or to just simply raise the public awareness of the issue (which clearly worked).

    Public awareness being that Labour thinks 'referendums are A-Ok'. Great, y'know who else thinks referendum are A-Ok? Act do. And the big difference between Act and Labour right now is that Act are in the government.

    Act have cooked up a great new and effective addition to the ways of enacting democratic change within NZ - enforceable referendums in local councils. This has some negative issues, revolving around the financial insolvancy of damn near every American state that has tried this sort of crap. So it would be a big risk for Act to introduce the concept in the face of any sort of competent opposition. Luckily for Act we do not have a competent opposition, we have Phil Twyford and friends who like the idea so much that they introduced this private members bill to do the same damn crap.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    Just to state my opinion on the matter, I'm not a fan of referendums except for certain "constitutional" matters - like the switch to MMP.

    The point is that Rodney Hide has said he's really into referendums, but at the same time has avoided on on the Auckland super-city issue - presumably because this time around he is not so sure the results will go his way. If Act vote against Twyford's bill then it does show up their hypocrisy. I suppose that if/when Labour vote against any Local Government Act changes that introduce referendums then their hypocrisy might be exposed too (although it could be the myriad of other ways Rodney wants to gut local government that would make Labour vote against such changes).

    However, I do think the main purpose of this private member's bill is to protect Auckland's assets from privatisation - unless the consent of the people via referendum has been obtained. This has arisen from the experience of the 1980s and 1990s when many many assets were sold off, even though typically most people wanted to retain them.

    So it's a mixture of political and practical reasons behind this. While I do somewhat tire of Labour screaming "privatisation" all the time, it is perhaps only their constant cries that will prevent privatisation of central and local government assets in the future.

    Off topic a bit - how come National constantly vote as a bloc on conscience issues lately? Are the MPs not allowed to think for themselves?

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 216 posts Report Reply

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