Large representative bodies – “slow”, “unwieldy”

Written By: - Date published: 8:26 am, October 4th, 2013 - 22 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Steven Joyce - Tags:

That would be Steven Joyce describing university councils, but he could be describing any democratic governance – including parliament.

Dictatorship is so much more efficient.  That’s why we praise the likes of Bainimarama.  The getting rid of “large unwieldy representative bodies” is such a good aim.  Makes things faster.

Even better to appoint, rather than elect the small ruling elite.  Democracy can be so messy, people might not vote for the right thing (see ECAN).

So universities, those independent institutions, with academics free to critique and keep in check intellectually such people as the government…  Will have the government limit their governance and appoint up to half their ruling councils.  Staff and students will not have guaranteed (elected) representation on institutions in which they are the vital part.

Does that sound like an attempt to neutralise any opposition to you?  Of course they scarcely need to – they have academics by the funding.  Ever tighter funding, with academics spending more and more time helping more and more students achieve the grades to keep funding, never mind the research – and they wonder why our university rankings are dropping.

We’ve talked on this site about National’s contempt for democracy before, but here it is explicitly stated again, this time by Joyce.  Getting reasonable representation by having a decent size body with elected interest groups is “slow” and “unwieldy”.

Yes small appointed groups will make faster decisions.  But they may well not make better ones, or fairer ones.  Democracy is an important check and balance on power – as are independent academics.  This move by Joyce is an attack on 2 important conventions.

22 comments on “Large representative bodies – “slow”, “unwieldy””

  1. ianmac 1

    We must be vigilant about anything that Steven Joyce says. Ulterior motives? Yes.
    However according to far back Parkinson, the best size for a committee is 7 with max of 9. Thereafter committees break into factions which diminish effectiveness.
    Mind you Joyce would prefer a committee of just 1. Himself.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Most city councils have more than 10 members. What are we going to do next? Chop them all back to single digits, in the name of “effectiveness” (effective for whom?).

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    The Wisdom of Crowds.

    As for Joyce?

    Preaches free markets.

    Practises partisan intervention in every market.

    Out of his depth at the shallow end of the pool.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    “…Dictatorship is so much more efficient…”

    Except that when they collapse, they are always revealed to have been corrupt, venal, destructive and wasteful.

    What bothers me most about this move from Joyce is it shows yet again the contempt that this government of authoritarian managerialists has for the warp and weft of democracy. It is yet another hollowing out of civic society in the name of the cult of managerial efficiency. Aspiring young student politicans start to have the rough edges knocked off them when they see the complexities of governance on a council. Staff representatives who stand for election to a councils learn how to get elected, how to run an election campaign (however modest), and those electing them understand how to achieve a voice in their governance peacefully. It is This sort of democracy that is actually the DNA of democratic societies. Constantly eroding will simply ensure than when power shifts, those that get it are unready to use it – with the sort of disasterous consequences you see in those countries in the Middle East which try to have democracy without a civil society.

  4. marsman 4

    As well as his meddling in democratic governance of Universities Steven Joyce is telling them what they should be focusing on teaching, large animal studies was one of his choices. The man is a malevolent moron and the sooner he’s made inoperable the better for NZ.

  5. Tracey 5

    Yup. He views everything as a business. He has no concept of the social contract aspect of society despite having a leader who depended on that very contract while growing up. Its one thing to run sonething efficiently but another to demand it makes profit and behaves like a corp board.

    social contract and democracy are something this govt and its supporters are waging war against

  6. Bill 6

    really wish people would make the distinction between democracy and representative democracy. The former is quick and efficient while the latter – a name with no/little democratic substance – is a dog due to it’s reliance on bureaucracy. Anyway…

  7. Tracey 7

    can you point to a large democracy without bureaucracy?

    • Bill 7.1

      Representative democracy is necessarily woven around or shot through with bureaucratic structures. And insofar as ‘all’ nation states manage their societies via representative democratic means, the short answer is ‘No – I can’t’.

      The slightly longer answer is that it makes no sense to view democracy as some singular or unitary structure…that can only lead to an insistence on representative democracy.

      Non-representative democracy can only be fluid and multi-facetted ie,structured but impermanent and always being recreated by those participating in it into whatever new appropriate configurations suit matters are at hand.

      Eg. democracy allows for absolute dictatorial decision making where the decision does not affect any person beyond the person making the decision. And it also delegitimises any decision made without appropriate input from affected people.

      • Sanctuary 7.1.1

        I have seldom had the misfortune to have wasted my time reading such a load of wishy washy hogwash as I have just now. Your post makes about as much sense as a piece of parsley on a stale turd.

        • Bill 7.1.1.1

          So are you’re saying you have no grasp on what democracy is or how it operates in the real world? Or that you have no interest in democracy? Or maybe you’re suggesting my attempt to briefly summarise is unhelpful in some way and that you have something useful to say that you haven’t submitted as a comment yet?

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.2

          Made perfect sense to me. Perhaps the problem is that you don’t have enough understanding of democracy.

  8. Tamati 8

    Just how many people sit around the Cabinet table Steven?

    I can think of a few bureaucrats around that table which would be well worth cutting.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Its seems to some sort of immutable law that cabinet is fixed at 20, with another 8 or so with training wheels.

      But of course the real work and energy comes from only 5 or 6 members. But that is the same with any group of 20. But you need that 20 or so to have a pool of skills that are useful

  9. xtasy 9

    Education has over more than two decades now increasingly been turned into a “commodity”, and this trend started with the introduction of student fees.

    Fees have continued to rise, curricula have been changed and “reformed” again and again, and it is not surprising that a National Party Minister pushes all the way to turn all tertiary institutions into “businesses”, designed to deliver “output” and “results” that serve the interests of business before anybody else. A government that caters primarily for business and their private sector lobby groups will feel obliged to do this, and hence we have this plan to limit the number of representatives to university councils.

    “Streamlining”, creating “efficiencies”, in a “competitive” environment, that is the slogan headed direction, and the day will come that many arts degrees, when history, political studies and much else that guys like Steven Joyce despises, will be abolished, so that all will just study business, science and technical subjects, none else.

    Democracy is only useful to them, if it is allowed only in the form of letting the brainwashed and ill-informed (by a collaborative privately dominated mass- or mainstream media) citizens vote once every so many years, merely to appoint a government that represents the ideology the public have been inundated and totally conditioned with. They will have lost all ability to think critically, alternatively and independently, and only vote for the supposedly “necessary”, undisputed policies, a bit like reaffirming self-fulfilling prophecies.

    I sadly see the vast majority of students at universities and other places of study being nothing but career minded individuals, that are totally focused on “buying” the “commodity” they need, to advance their career, and to ensure them a secure, well-earning job that guarantees a good living standard. There is regrettably too little questioning and participation, and collective spirit basically needs to be re-invented and rekindled, as most have not learned much of this, having grown up under nothing else but slight variants of neoliberal governments, all following free market, laissez faire dogma.

    So yes, opposition to this is needed, and I would appeal to all students to inform themselves and take a clear stand on this, and to stop the government “commoditising” them as “customers” or “buyers” of “commodity education” from “university businesses”!

    There is more to education and life than buying, selling, consuming, working, career aspirations and self interest. Some will only learn this when it may be too late.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      I sadly see the vast majority of students at universities and other places of study being nothing but career minded individuals, that are totally focused on “buying” the “commodity” they need, to advance their career, and to ensure them a secure, well-earning job that guarantees a good living standard. There is regrettably too little questioning and participation, and collective spirit basically needs to be re-invented and rekindled, as most have not learned much of this, having grown up under nothing else but slight variants of neoliberal governments, all following free market, laissez faire dogma.

      QFT

      • Rodel 9.1.1

        I think the rot began when someone first talked about ‘delivering’ education as if education was parcel or product involving one way delivery only (as in a legitimate a business model) rather than using the verb ‘to educate’ which is an interactive process . Ministry bureaucrats and politicians seem to like the ‘delivery’ concept.

        • Murray Olsen 9.1.1.1

          Very true, Rodel. Education that is “delivered” can be left at the door, much like an unregistered letter. There is no onus on the “supplier” to ensure it is appropriate or received. Perhaps the worst aspect from my point of view is that this philosophy allows students to think of themselves as passive buyers rather than participants in a process. As well as being the favourite model of bureaucrats and politicians, it is loved by lazy, incompetent students as well.

          • Rodel 9.1.1.1.1

            Yes ..good added thought on the effect it has on recipient students…well delivered.

  10. Zaphod Beeblebrox 10

    Well we do need less MPs, what do they do all day? Auckland has 3 times as many MPs as councillors, surely aligning the electorates with the council wards and even having your MP as your councillor would make things a lot less unwieldy.

  11. tracey 11

    zaphod, why not just have auckland cede from the rest of the country

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Actually I think that there is some popular support for cutting the Cook Strait cable.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Typhoid report shows health officials under the hammer
    A chaotic picture has emerged around the response of Auckland public health officials to this year’s typhoid outbreak, says Aupito William Sio Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesman.  “Our Pacific community was left exposed by the Auckland Regional Public Health Services’ ...
    15 hours ago
  • Huge high country station risks going to overseas ownership
    The real estate advertisement is spot on in describing Mt White Station as an “iconic” South Island high country station. The 40,000 hectare property is adjacent to Arthur’s Pass National Park and the upper reaches of the Waimakariri River. Mt ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    16 hours ago
  • Bill English must be upfront about his involvement in Barclay scandal
    Bill English’s explanations that he was on the periphery of the long running employment dispute involving Todd Barclay don’t stack up, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister claims to have been a bystander, but we know he was ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour will not resile from royalties
    Labour believes cleaning up our rivers so that they are clean enough to swim in is the most important freshwater issue for this election, but that it is also fair that a royalty should be charged where public water is ...
    3 days ago
  • With friends like Hone, who needs enemies?
    With less than three months until the election, Hone Harawira has delivered another blow to the Māori Party’s flagship policy of Te Ture Whenua Māori reform and the already unstable MANA-Maori Party alliance, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. “On The ...
    3 days ago
  • Shifty Bill jumps the shark
    Bill English's claim today that it has never been established that Todd Barclay's recordings of his staff took place is bizarre and shows a complete lack of honesty and leadership, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  "Todd Barclay told Bill ...
    4 days ago
  • Te Ture Whenua – gone by lunchtime?
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has to front up about yesterday’s mysterious withdrawal of Te Ture Whenua Bill from Parliament’s order paper, says Labour’s Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Has he lost his way and has decided to run ...
    4 days ago
  • Bill English ignorance of law beggars belief
    For Bill English to claim he and others in the National Party didn’t realise the law may have been broken in the Todd Barclay taping scandal is simply not credible, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister ...
    5 days ago
  • Government ignored advice on Pacific people’s superannuation
    The Government ignored advice from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples that raising the Superannuation age of eligibility would have a ‘disproportionately high impact’ on Pacific people, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Aupito William Sio.   “The Ministry for Pacific ...
    5 days ago
  • Bill English misleads Parliament on Police statement
    Bill English's attempt to restore his damaged credibility over the Todd Barclay affair has backfired after his claim to have "reported" Mr Barclay's actions to Police has proven not to be true, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson. ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep it Public
    The Green Party strongly supports the Tertiary Education Unions call to #KeepitPublic Keep what public? Out quality tertiary education system that National is trying to open up to more private for-profit providers with a new law change. The (Tertiary Education ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    5 days ago
  • This ‘technical error’ is hurting big time
    Jonathan Coleman cannot resort to his ongoing litany that the Ministry of Health’s $38 million budget blunder is an error on paper only, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “He might keep saying it’s a ‘technical error’ but the reality ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour to invest in public transport for Greater Christchurch
    Labour will commit $100m in capital investment for public transport in Greater Christchurch, including commuter rail from Rolleston to the CBD, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “As the rebuild progresses, there are huge opportunities for Greater Christchurch, but ...
    6 days ago
  • Green Party will repeal solar tax
    It’s ridiculous for an electricity distribution monopoly to apply a charge on solar panels but worse than that, it’s harming our effort to tackle climate change. Hawke’s Bay lines company Unison last year announced a new solar charge for their ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    6 days ago
  • English fails the character test over Barclay
    Bill English is hoping this scandal will go away, but he is still dodging important questions over his role in covering up for Todd Barclay, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government must apologise for Christchurch schools stuff-up
    The Ombudsman’s findings that the Ministry of Education botched the reorganisation of Christchurch schools after the 2011 earthquake are damning for an under-fire National Government, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “The Ombudsman has found the reorganisation of schools in ...
    6 days ago
  • Government’s multinational tax measures weak
    The Government’s proposals to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, by its own admission only recovering one third of the missing money, means hardworking Kiwis will bear more of the tax burden, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. “The Government ...
    7 days ago
  • World Refugee Day – we can do our bit
    I’m really proud that yesterday, on World Refugee Day, the Greens launched an ambitious plan to increase the refugee quota to 5000 over the next six years. Of those places, 4,000 will be directly resettled by the government and another ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • PM’s leadership in question over Barclay affair
    The Prime Minister must belatedly show some leadership and compel Todd Barclay to front up to the Police, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Twice today Bill English has been found wanting in this matter. ...
    1 week ago
  • Another memory lapse by Coleman?
    The Minister of Health ‘couldn’t recall’ whether the Director General of Health Chai Chuah offered his resignation over the Budget funding fiasco involving the country’s District Health Boards, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “In the House today Jonathan Coleman ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English needs to come clean over Barclay
    Bill English needs to explain why he failed to be upfront with the public over the actions of Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, following revelations that he knew about the secretly recorded conversations in the MP’s electorate office, says Labour Leader ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister, show some backbone and front up and debate
    Rather than accusing critics of his Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill of telling ‘lies’, Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell should show some backbone and front up to a debate on the issue, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. “Te ...
    1 week ago
  • Equal pay for mental health workers
    Today, mental health workers are filing an equal pay claim through their unions. Mental health support workers do important and difficult work in our communities. But because the workforce is largely female, they are not paid enough. It’s wrong for ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Nats’ HAM-fisted housing crisis denial
    National’s decision to knowingly release a flawed Housing Affordability Measure that underestimates the cost of housing is the latest evidence of their housing crisis denial, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • New Pike footage builds compelling case for mine re-entry
    New footage of the Pike River Mine deep inside the operation, revealing no fire damage or signs of an inferno, provides a compelling reason to grant the families of Pike River’s victims their wish to re-enter the drift, says Labour ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will get tough on slum boarding houses
    The next Labour-led Government will legislate a Warrant of Fitness based on tough minimum standards to clean out slum boarding houses, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s not acceptable for New Zealanders in the 21st Century to be living ...
    1 week ago
  • Green Party tribute to Dame Nganeko Minhinnick
    Haere ngā mate ki tua o paerau; te moenga roa o ngā mātua tupuna. Haere, haere, haere. It was with a huge sense of loss that we learned of the death of Dame Nganeko Minhinnick yesterday. The Green Party acknowledges ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Urgent answers needed on DHB funding
      Jonathan Coleman must come clean and answer questions about what actual funding DHBs received in Budget 2017, says Labour Health Spokesperson David Clark.   ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Treasury puts Māori Land Service on red alert
    A damning Treasury report raises serious questions about the delivery of Te Ururoa Flavell’s proposed Māori Land Service, giving it a ‘red’ rating which indicates major issues with the project, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Treasury’s Interim Major Projects Monitoring ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Economy stalling after nine years of National’s complacency
    The second successive quarterly fall in per person growth shows the need for a fresh approach to give all New Zealanders a fair share in prosperity, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwi kids deserve much more
    All Kiwi kids deserve so much more than the impoverished picture painted by the shameful rankings provided by the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card, says Labour’s children spokesperson Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ Zone a precursor to a total nuclear weapon ban
    New Zealand’s nuclear-free zone, legislated by Parliament in 1987, is something we all take pride in. It’s important, however, that we don’t let it thwart its own ultimate purpose – a world free of nuclear weapons. That goal must be ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    2 weeks ago
  • English must confirm we still stand by our principles on UN resolution
    Bill English must tell New Zealand whether we remain in support of the UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “After Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee’s evasive answers to repeated questions on ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori party drop the poi on Māori health
    The Māori Party have dropped the poi when it comes to supporting Ngati Whakaue and Māori interests in Bay of Plenty by allowing an iwi owned and operated service Te Hunga Manaaki to be brushed aside in favour of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to invest in Whanganui River infrastructure
    Labour will work in partnership with the Whanganui Council to repair and redevelop the city’s Port precinct in advance of planned economic development and expansion. To enable Whanganui’s plans, Labour will commit $3m in matching funding for repairing the Whanganui ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parihaka: an apology
    An apology only works for healing if it is sincere and if it is accepted. We teach our children to apologise and to be genuine if they want to be forgiven. On Friday, June 9 at Parihaka, the Crown apologised ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Survey shows many international students plan to stay in NZ after study
    Most international students in New Zealand at PTEs (private training establishments) who have a plan for themselves after study intend to stay in New Zealand to work. This shows how low-level education has become a backdoor immigration route under National, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Councils step up as Nats drop the ball on housing crisis
    Phil Goff’s Mayoral Housing Taskforce is another positive example of councils stepping up where National has failed on housing, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for a breather on immigration
    Labour will introduce moderate, sensible reforms to immigration to reduce the pressure on our cities, while ensuring we get the skilled workers our country needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New Zealand is a country built on immigration. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inaction puts Māui dolphins at risk
    Conservation Minister Maggie Barry was at the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York last week, trying to convince the world that the New Zealand Government is doing a good job at protecting our marine environment.  Yet last week after ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    2 weeks ago
  • National unprepared as immigration runs four times faster than forecast
    National has been caught asleep at the wheel by record immigration that has outstripped Budget forecasts, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • First home buyers shouldn’t carry the can for National’s failed policies
    The introduction of tighter limits on lending to first home buyers would see them paying the price for the National Party’s failure to recognise or fix the housing crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Nine years of denial and ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Motel bill blows out as Nats fail to deliver emergency housing
    Minister Amy Adams has admitted at select committee that National has now spent $22m on putting homeless families in motels as it fails to deliver the emergency housing places it promised, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 weeks ago