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Comment: David Thornton On Rodney Council

COMMENT from David Thornton

writer and commentator on local government affairs

David Thornton is a former member of the North Shore City Council and the Greater London Council

'Phone 09 443 5302 Fax 09 443 6771 email thornton@internet.co.nz


Monday, 10 April 2000

No Taxation without Representation

The appointment of a government commissioner to replace the elected Rodney District Council is a severe blow to local democracy.

One of the first acts of the commissioner will be the setting of local rates for the coming financial year, with no accountability to the local people who will be paying those rates. This is 'taxation without representation'. - the issue which precipitated the American Revolution and subsequent Independence.

The abolition of the democratic right of Rodney citizens to elect their own local government is to deprive them one of their most basic freedoms. And all because of claims that the Council was dysfunctional.

But isn't Parliament itself 'dysfunctional' from time to time? Especially since the introduction of MMP. How often do we see and hear examples of unruly behaviour in the House - and, during the last 'coalition', we heard of legislation being withdrawn or delayed because Parliament could not agree. And there is no big brother who can sack that lot - nor should there be.

We already have almost half of our Parliament made up of 'list' members who have no electorate mandate. Now we are to have a non-elected commissioner running a local government unit.

No matter how unruly Rodney Council had become that is insufficient justification for the suspension of a democratically elected institution.

The basic services to the community are still being provided. The rubbish is still being collected. Roads and footpaths are still being repaired. The sewerage is still being disposed of. Fresh water is still being supplied.

The citizens of Rodney would have survived through to the next election in 18 months - and then given their verdict through the ballot box.


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