Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Community leaders positive on future of democracy

Community leaders positive on the future of democracy

New Zealand’s inaugural conference of residents’ associations attracted over 40 organisations on the weekend and sends a strong message to the local government sector: work with us or face the consequences.

Conference convenor Jarrod Coburn says that the unbridled passion – and in some cases frustration and anger – about issues in the local government and community sector took him aback and caused many to comment that “something needs to be done… or else”.

The Residents 2010 Conference – held in parliament’s Grand Hall on Saturday – attracted interest from residents’ organisations as far away as Auckland and Christchurch. The conference was a collaboration between the Federation of Wellington Progressive and Residents Associations (FWPRA), the Social and Civic Policy Institute (SCPI), and local government watchdog Council Watch.

Coburn, experienced in community engagement on both sides of the fence, says the “or else” could spell bad news for the local government sector and would come in the form of the increasingly vocal network of residents’ associations (over 1,500 across the country) turning their backs if the Government continue down their current path of tinkering with Councils.

“We’ve seen two instances of the National government stepping in to change local government in the past year: the so-called ‘Super City’ in Auckland, and the sacking of the democratically-elected members of Environment Canterbury.
“This Government has indicated without a doubt that they are willing to make some tough decisions when it comes to local democracy. My fear – and this is shared by others – is that we are seeing a major threat to the remaining Councils.

“The sector – through its own incompetence – is giving central government excuse after excuse to cast doubt over its effectiveness. Bizarre as it might sound; it might be residents’ associations and like organisations who have to come to their rescue!”

Mr Coburn says that the gathering of nearly 100 community leaders was a milestone in a growing movement toward citizen participation.

“People are becoming less tolerant with public employees now. There is more money around than ever before in our economy, yet Councils are pleading poverty and reducing their services.

“It is time for the local government sector to do some serious reflecting on their future, and whether or not they want the support of the communities they are legally obliged to serve,” says Coburn.

“Many delegates relayed stories of Councils making decisions using a bogus process of ‘consultation’ – basically an expensive way to justify their officer’s choices,” says Coburn, “Well after this weekend let it be known that citizens can also make choices, and have a voice, and have opinions that count with the people who hold sway over their futures!”

The conference delegates agreed to a number of recommendations, which will be communicated to the appropriate agencies and the public at large over the next few weeks. In the meantime work on finding ways to support residents’ associations across the nation will continue by the three organisations.

“Obviously you don’t hold a conference like this and then forget about it the next day,” says Coburn, “for SCPI, FWPRA and Council Watch the work has just begun. Already we’re getting calls from other organisations around the country asking how they can be involved in this movement toward stronger local democracy.

“One thing I will say is that we welcome approaches by anyone at any organisation to start a dialogue about improving the lot of residents’ associations in New Zealand. If it is to be done, it will have to be done cooperatively and in the spirit of democracy and equality.”

Jarrod Coburn says that the organisers will contact community leaders in Auckland and Christchurch soon and ask if they would be happy to co-host similar conferences in their areas in 2011.

Full details of the conference, including the proceedings and associated research, will be available soon on www.residents.org.nz.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Shipping Is NZ’s New Trade Problem

So Jacinda Ardern and Theresa May have signed a piece of paper promising peace in our time when it comes to our trade with Britain... Right now, a statement from Theresa May on Brexit has as much credibility as a statement by Donald Trump about North Korea’s plans for scrapping its nukes. Despite her recent crushing defeat in the Commons, May is continuing to playing chicken with Britain’s future, for personal and party advantage.

Brexit is not the only concern... More>>

 

Reshuffle: National Announces Spokesperson For Drug Reform

National Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Paula Bennett to the new position of Spokesperson for Drug Reform as the Government pushes ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation, to signal National’s commitment to holding them to account. More>>

ALSO:

KiwiBailed: KiwiBuild Head Officially Resigns

The head of Kiwibuild, Stephen Barclay has officially resigned from the role. In a statement issued on his behalf, it was announced that he would step down from today [Friday]. More>>

ALSO:

Welfare Stats: Rise In Hardship Numbers Shows Income Inadequacy

The latest Ministry of Social Development quarterly report show that a record number of people have received hardship assistance from work and income, with an additional 40,000 hardship payments made between September and December 2018, compared to the previous quarter of the same year... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On MBIE’s Social Media Scam

Given the ambit of MBIE’s work, almost any form of social activity could qualify as being part of MBIE’s brief, so the privacy threats posed by this training programme are extensive. The current oversight safeguards seem threadbare to non-existent. More>>

ALSO:

JusTrade: New Campaign For A 21th Century Trade Agenda

‘Critique is no longer enough. If anything is to really change, we need to step away from the existing framework and take a first-principles approach to rethinking what will work for the 21st century.’ More>>

Earlier:

Gordon Campbell: Thompson + Clark Are The Tip Of The Iceberg

How can we tell where and how any lines are being drawn? Oversight is not exactly robust. If it were, Thompson + Clark would have been out of contention for state security work ten years ago. More>>

Trainers: Taratahi Institute of Agriculture In Interim Liquidation

Taratahi employ 250 staff and this year has provided education to over 2500 students. Taratahi owns and manages 8 farms throughout the country. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels