Mike's Minute: Time to seriously think about our useless councils

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 10:08AM

Mike's Minute: Time to seriously think about our useless councils

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 18 Feb 2021, 10:08AM

So, first things first, congratulations to our mate Marcus Lush, who has won himself a seat on the Invercargill City Council.

Obviously, the question is, why on earth would you want to saddle yourself with such a burden? It's beyond me.

But the good news is he won by a comparative landslide. The truth, sadly, is that the turnout was atrocious.

The field was large, so the potential was there for whoever won, to win with little more than three percent of the total number of votes.

13,991 could be bothered. Marcus 7003 of them, so half the turnout ain't bad in a field of nine.

Another truth I think, and this takes nothing away from Marcus, his determination, and passion for his community, not to mention whatever plans he may have, but name recognition in local body politics is the advantage you can't ignore.

Marcus got national coverage for his run, not because he's a local body genius but because he's got a show on Newstalk ZB. Councils up and down the country are littered, and have been for years, with broadcasting names that got there because of recognition, not platform.

But the really important thing here is, what on earth are we going to do about democracy? The reason Invercargill had a by-election is because of a resignation, and the resignation came as a result of dysfunction.

Dysfunction isn't solved by complacency, which is what voters have shown. Complacency, disdain, or both. You get the representation you deserve. You deserve nothing, if you can't be bothered participating.

This is the malaise up and down the country. The infrastructural and political mess can be found north, south, and west. We are over-counciled, and as a result the talent pool is stretched. Too much is at stake for well-meaning amateurs to “have a crack."

Not only doesn’t it work well in most places, we don’t even care. The system is broken, no one wants to tackle it because it's democracy. But look where democracy has got us.

The seed of discontent came of course in Invercargill because of Sir Tim Shadbolt. A classic example of name recognition providing a job for life.

In business when it doesn’t work, we blow it up, and start again or at the very least restructure it. Why not the same, at local body level?