ON AIR: Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder

6AM - 8AM

Andrew Dickens: Central, Local Govt both losing in battle to control our lives

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 9 July 2019, 9:26AM
Local and Central Government both feel like poll jockeys at the moment, writes Andrew. (Photo / Getty)
Local and Central Government both feel like poll jockeys at the moment, writes Andrew. (Photo / Getty)

So you may be asking yourself why you're not hearing or seeing our MPs much these days.

It's because the House is in recess and not due to sit again until the end of July. Handily, this corresponds with the school holidays so a lot of MPs are on holiday with their kids. But the diligent are still taking any opportunity they can.

There has been a very funny opinion piece lately about politics and this very programme which pointed out that Judith Collins is more than prepared to feature on Early Edition even though it's rudely early. It points out she is always on the hunt and that Simon Bridges should never underestimate her ambition.

The piece also points out that Crusher's tone on Early Edition is positively slinky, presuming that Judith is speaking to us from beneath her duvet while still tucked up in bed. Honestly, wouldn't you. Given the choice and an understanding partner I would quite like to be presenting this programme live from my bedroom too.

The recess means that the political eye has moved from Central Government to Local Government who are having their big hui this week.

Watching the proceedings, I was struck by just how many people were there. The thing is massive. There are an awful lot civil servants in this country. But the local government ones are at least more visible in our day to day life.

The council's have a very defined job, in this order: Make sure we have drinking water, make sure our poo is dealt with, collect our rubbish, oversee our building, build our local roads. Very visceral job. Water, Waste and Shelter.

Central Government deal with our laws, our health, our education, our police, our defence. The big stuff. Or is it? Is it really bigger than water, poo and rubbish?

Local Government has some big jobs and they do it despite a small income base due to the rating system. Central Government funds itself from everyone while Local Government funds themselves only from people who own property.

From this conference there have been rumblings that Local Government could do more and better than some Wellington monster bureaucracy. There has been talk about education and social housing falling under the council's gambit.

I think that while you can see that councils have a better view than Wellington of local conditions, their track record suggests they need to deal with the responsibilities they already have a bit better before they ask for more. And they certainly would need a rethink of their revenue. It feels to me that the councils would love a poll tax and we all know how popular that would be.

But make no mistake, there is competition between local and central government for control of your life. And it becomes obvious when you look at what they don't want to do.

This weekend, the councils passed a remit asking Central Government to ban fireworks. Central Government has always said it's a local decision. It seems obvious to me that neither local nor central government want to make a stand on this for fear of becoming the fun police.

So my message to both parties. If Central Government wants more influence and if Local Government wants the same, you might want to stop playing politics and be decisive and show real leadership, because at the moment you both feel like poll jockeys.

ON AIR: Sunday Mornings with The Resident Builder

6AM - 8AM