Don’t get me wrong, I love idealists. I like boosters who tell me it’s not as bad for Progressives as things may appear. Utopians. Happy people. Party campaigners. Change the country. Win the battles. Love them all.
And then after we’ve finished campaigning in poetry, we have to govern in prose. So. The best you could hope for from local government. If all stars aligned. If politics wasn’t tricky and councillors were bold. If central government cooperated. If it wasn’t actually really hard.
I’m not going to comment on every local government. But.
The best thing to hope for in Whangarei is that they open that Hundterwasser museum inside three years. Just to stick it to to the bogan councillors who tried to kill it. And figure out how to reverse selling their pure water springs to multinationals. If I was hopeful.
Crikey the best thing you’ll get in Kaipara is any democracy at all. Maybe even, some time this century, a sewerage system. Somewhere. Anywhere.
In Auckland, the best thing to hope for is that Panuku develops thousands of new cheap flats to help the urban poor. With a good government. It’s a big ask in three years. But it’s slightly more possible to build than completing anything of note in transport inside three years except a cycleway or two.
The best thing you could see in Hamilton is that the Tainui master plan for the inland port together with all its housing development actually proceeds. Lots of houses, lots of jobs. Which really has nothing to do with the Council. That council is really just a client state of Fonterra, Gallaghers, and NZTA. Very little to hope for there really.
Tauranga, well, the best thing that Council could do is enable the city actually function like a city. Third biggest joint in the country. Yet nothing that says it’s grown beyond adolescence as far as the suburbanized eye can see.
The best thing to hope for in Gisborne is Meng Foon. Who is awesome. And maybe finds a way to get the rail line fixed again.
The utmost to hope for out of New Plymouth is firstly that the new local government legislation doesn’t gut its assets, again, and secondly that it manages to deliver its legal requirement to include Maori in decision making. Best of luck there. It’s actually the region with the most awe-inspiring civic landscaping in New Zealand, by a long way. Plus get to see The Specials at WOMAD.
The best thing to hope for in Wanganui is that they get a functioning sewerage system.
The best out of Horizons is that it holds true to its draft plan to limit dairy intensification around its river tributaries. Which will be quite a fight. Hopefully central government doesn’t step in like the ham-fisted fools they are.
The best to hope for out of Napier, Hastings and Hawkes Bay generally is that the regional council is held to account of every single water issue in the region. That the regional council actually does its freaking job. Which will take political unity and some guts from everyone around it. And would be the fight worth having in the open.
Out of Wellington, well, the best to hope for is some real unity between the regional government, NZTA, Wellington Council, and a few of the others. Auckland’s City Rail Link deal shows that government transport agendas can really be bent to local needs. It takes the will to fight and to win over many years. Beyond the dead merger referendum, form a common agenda and really pull the ear of central government to co-invest with you, not just building more billion-plus useless motorways to an airport that has almost no need for it. And build thousands of flats for people who can’t afford it; subsidy be damned.
Wait, the best thing to happen to Wellington is that the current government is thrown out. Naturally.
The best thing to happen in Nelson is … Nick Smith resigns and they get a decent MP. Plus, the price of apples holds up, craft beers continue to take off, and Abel Tasman National Park doesn’t turn into the world’s longest beachfront tourist toilet. Plus they build a functioning airport. Really it’s not that much to ask.
There’s actually a lot to hope for out of Christchurch. Mayor Dalziel’s promise to have 10,000 people living in the centre of the city to revise itself is bold and simple, and by God I hope she makes it, stars align, and citizens see a sniff of the inspiration that that king-sized idiot Gerry Brownlee just will never have. Precinct after precinct will open inside three years.
And for the Canterbury region the best to hope for is government appointees that respect the clear will of the voters to adopt strong green water management measures. No matter what Federated Farmers says. Or Nick Smith. Now that would be a principled political fight to have. I see hope.
The best thing to hope for in Oamaru is they understand that Alps to Ocean is about to do to them what the Otago Rail Trail did to Central. Boomers make the place go boom.
Out of Queenstown-Lakes, the best to hope for is Council becomes more than a client government of its own airport company. Get Council to exercise its Public Works Act functions to build some actual worker accommodation, rather than more stupid boondoggles like failed convention centres. It could happen. And get its tourist operators all together to stop appealing to cheap-ass package tour operators.
Hey Mackenzie, would it be too much to ask to have an actual sewerage system for the whole of Clyde? I mean seriously?
For Dunedin the upside is pretty high. Get the courts rebuilt, the waterfront warehouse revived, the hospital rebuilt, a couple of new hotels in the centre of town, debt repaid from its CCOs, and the albatrosses keep coming back. Maybe the Council could actually show that it’s really planning with its largest employer, the University of Otago, for the good of the city? Too much to ask?
The best thing to hope for in Southland is that the decline in population slows slightly due to their spectacularly successful economic development initiatives, and that Stewart Island and Fiordland get fewer but really rich tourists. And of course more food forests. Of course.
Apologies for the omissions. Put your own wish list in. Nothing too idealistic though. Can’t be too hopeful the other side of an election. Even with Labour or Labour-Green majorities in power. Government is hard, especially local government – disempowered, cranky, dependent, constrained, ridiculed, indebted – and you have to get your ceiling of possibility just right inside three years. So it’s good to keep it real as well as have aspiration.
Is this the best we can hope to see by October 2019?