Mike Yardley: We are being swamped in local government bureaucracy

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Apr 2021, 11:45AM
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Mike Yardley: We are being swamped in local government bureaucracy

Author
Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Fri, 23 Apr 2021, 11:45AM

The looming dissolution of our twenty DHBs is a striking reminder of how over-burdened we are by bureaucracy-building. Layer upon layer of governance structures. Armies upon armies of administrators, replicating the same role and needlessly costing us a bomb. There is no economy of scale.

And as I’ve banged on about this week, democratic representation around these health boards is just feel-good window dressing. It’s tinsel for the masses.

Just imagine if we wrapped every police district with a publicly elected board of ernest amateurs and turned them into silos. How pointless would that be.

But the biggest cesspit of duplicated waste would have to be local government. Does New Zealand really need to be governed by eleven regional councils, fifty three district councils and thirteen city councils? Seventy seven in total.

We don’t eagerly engage with them. We hardly vote in council elections with any greater enthusiasm, than we do for health boards. And beyond that, we try and ignore them. My council has just closed submissions on its Budget, the Annual Plan. Zero point six per cent of the population felt there was any point having a say.

Increasingly, all of these councils are dependent on taxpayer handouts. Look at water infrastructure. Roading. Feel-good spend ups on public transport and cycleways. The state coffers are shelling out a shedload to these local authorities, who can’t clean their own face, despite the obscene scale of their rates rises. I actually think rates should be axed and local government should be bulk-funded via general taxation. It would curb the vanity projects. But that’s an issue, for another day.

Now the notion of amalgamation arouses mixed feelings. I get that. Rodney Hide talked a big game on Auckland as a Super City - and what a cluster that council is. But I don’t disagree with the Waikato Chamber of Commerce. It is ludicrous that the four hundred thousand people of the Waikato are governed by twelve councils and one hundred and thirty six councillors.

Could there be a more glaring example of over-governed inefficiency.