Seems the commentators are definately picking local government as one of the issues to watch in terms of how the new Nationaladministration handles MMP politics (and how the opposition parties handle it as well I guess). Gordon Campbell notes:
Giving the local government portfolio to Rodney Hide creates some management challenges for John Key. Can Key really afford to let Hide loose down the privatising track in local government which would entail the wholesale contracting out of council services and the privatizing of water and roads, along lines set out in Hide’s private members’ bills on the subject. Only a minuscule number of people in New Zealand voted for this agenda.
Or will Key do the exact opposite and try to repeat what Kevin Rudd is doing right now in Australia ? Rudd is treating local government as the best, most readily available jobs engine to soak up the unemployment bound to flow next year from the global recession. Which path will Key choose to follow yesterday’s extremism, or tomorrow’s pragmatism?
While in the NZ Herald Brian Rudman observes:
There are many in local government scratching their heads after the appointment of Act leader Rodney Hide as Minister of Local Government and wondering what on earth they did to upset Prime Minister John Key so much….what does he [Key] do but appoint as Minister of Local Government the leader of a party which is pledged to strip most of its functions over to private operators, confining councillors “to the core activities that produce public benefits, such as regulations, flood controls and roads”.
Top of the scorched earth local government policy list Mr Hide was elected on was that “local government will be required to shed its commercial activity, thereby eliminating the need to separate regulatory and commercial functions between local and regional councils”. Policy number two was that “roads and piped water will be supplied on a fully commercial basis”.
When can we expect to hear what the actual agenda for local government is over the next three years – and what will be the processes by which any change occurs? Local government is often seen as the quiet cousin of central government politics but in actual fact it has a pretty big impact on all of us. I, for one, am feeling a little nervous! I want more than footpaths and rubbish collection as council duties.