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Imagining A Minister For Wellington City

Statement by Mayor Kapiti Coast District K. Gurunathan

In the wake of the radical three waters reform Local Government Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta has repeatedly urged the local government sector to "re-imagine" the future of local government.

Given the huge problems and challenges faced by Wellington City, and by proxy the Wellington Region, it's time the Minister and her Government gave serious thought to creating a Minister for Wellington City. For the simple reason that Wellington City, as the home of Aotearoa New Zealand 's Government and the international face of the country, has an exceptional responsibility and, therefore, a special relationship with the Government.

There is no reason that the re-imagining of local government, which has been called for, cannot look at a radical reset of the administrative and political relation between Wellington City and the Government when both live in the same tight geographical home.

When the multi-billion dollar business of Central Government is conducted within this tight square kilometres of Wellington City then there is a national responsibility of Central Government to ensure that the planning and funding of this City is more than adequate to not only solve all its infrastructure problems but its undertaken to showcase the best of Aotearoa New Zealand to the rest of the world. In this symbiotic relationship the inefficiencies of the City becomes the inefficiencies of Central Government administration. From this perspective, one could argue that it is because consecutive central governments have failed to develop this ownership of national responsibility that we are now seeing the painful failings of the City's fundamental infrastructure.

As mayor of a district that has more than 4,000 residents commuting every weekday to work in Wellington City I believe in the oft-repeated mantra that what's good for Wellington City is good for the region. Today, I'd like to extend that mantra to say that what's good for Wellington City is good for the whole country.

In concluding, I like to refer to the recent diplomatic clash between Australia and China where Minister Mahuta had signalled a willingness to arbiter a truce. In re-imagining local government, I imagine a positive response with delegations arriving from China and Australia to our capital. On the way from the Airport the Chinese delegation is locked in a traffic jam in the City because a water main has burst causing immediate danger and flooding. The Australian delegation is also stuck elsewhere in the City because a collector sewage main has burst and the proverbial is literally cascading down many streets. I imagine it's not just the reputation of Wellington City or the Wellington region that suffers but our national reputation and pride.

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