Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Totally Local

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm less sanguine than Brian Rudman about the possibility of asset sales in undesirable circumstances. But I'm not a great fan of frequent referendums to determine local government policy. I'll tell you who is, though: Rodney Hide.

    So, Twyford and Hide are both full of opportunistic shit? Funny that... and why do I have the sneaking suspicion that both men would lose their taste for opinion poll pseudo-democracy the nano-second the results weren't to their liking?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And to be fair, Twyford and Hide wouldn't piss me off quite so much if I didn't think they're both capable of a LOT BETTER.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    So, Twyford and Hide are both full of opportunistic shit?

    I imagine we will be waiting a very long while before the merits of citzen referenda restricting NZ government asset sales gains inclusion in Labour Party manifesto. Opportunity knocks, after all what is good for the goose... and all that shit.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Twyford originally proposed this measure as part of the filibuster on the Auckland dictatorship bill. I think it'd be good if it passed, but that's because I don't see it as being triggered very frequently - and then I damn well want people to have a say if a rightwing council wants to go back to the 90's and flog everything off. When it comes to privatisation, I just don't think we can trust our politicians, and so we shouldn't delegate that power to them.

    (Though I'd rather see a version covering the whole country than one specifically for Auckland).

    And remember, while a bill may have no hope in hell of passing, sometimes its still worth it to force the government to debate an issue and get everyone to go on record about it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And remember, while a bill may have no hope in hell of passing, sometimes its still worth it to force the government to debate an issue and get everyone to go on record about it.

    Yes, that's the value I see in it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    and then I damn well want people to have a say if a rightwing council wants to go back to the 90's and flog everything off. When it comes to privatisation, I just don't think we can trust our politicians, and so we shouldn't delegate that power to them.

    While I certainly need a time out on the naughty step on that score, perhaps more people should "have their say" at the ballot box and make sure that there are more people than chairs at meet the candidate meetings.

    Meanwhile, Idiot/Savant, if you're happy to respect the outcome if people turn out to be quite keen on "flogging everything off" -- and Rodney is happy to abide by those who think tax-and-spend local government is A-OK -- then fair enough. I just have my doubts that referenda-fetishists operate with that much good faith.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Oh, I should also note that I'd like to see a version applying to SOEs as well. Its not just our local body politicians I don't trust on this issue.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    And finally: Cameron Slater is "involved in all National's internal debates"? For serious?

    That's cause, as I understand it, Slater's part of a talent development program led by graduate Michael Laws.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    And frankly, many Aucklanders do feel dictated to by Hide, and by the government, over the future of their city.

    So Twyford wants to get some of that action himself?

    If he looks forward to Act supporting his bill, I presume he's going to be backing theirs? Given they also want to define what a local council can and can't do under a representational democracy. Surely his comment about the "significant and irreversible" parts of Hide's plan should have been in glowing support, not hypocritical contempt?

    Referenda (or deferred decisions to election) aren't all bad. Sale of significant assets (although not defined by Wellington on some register thanks) seems like something that needs clear mandated support. So in that it seems that both Labour and ACT agree - the fact that ACT wants to take it further is a valid discussion point between them but guys, you're now playing on the same team. You're just arguing how far to punt it downfield (really should leave the sport metaphors to Mr Haydn)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Meanwhile, Idiot/Savant, if you're happy to respect the outcome if people turn out to be quite keen on "flogging everything off" -- and Rodney is happy to abide by those who think tax-and-spend local government is A-OK -- then fair enough. I just have my doubts that referenda-fetishists operate with that much good faith.

    If people vote for it, then while I can dispute its wisdom, I can't dispute the fact that it would be the will of the people. And that's what's important here. Remember, democracy isn't about making good decisions, its about making our decisions.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • wendyf,

    A problem I have with referendums (or a)is that the decisions have to be informed, and the source of information depends on who has the most money to spend on advertising. When it comes to flogging off our assets, including SOEs, the people who will benefit most are the people who have the most money.

    It took some years to recover my nail growth when we were looking at alternatives to FPP.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Remember, democracy isn't about making good decisions, its about making our decisions.

    Isn't it about choosing people to make our decisions? Or perhaps a little more accurately, it's about infrequently voting between a few choices of people who might participate in making a decision, and a few others who certainly won't get to participate.

    A problem I have with referendums (or a)is that the decisions have to be informed, and the source of information depends on who has the most money to spend on advertising. When it comes to flogging off our assets, including SOEs, the people who will benefit most are the people who have the most money.

    Couldn't the same be said of elections?

    It makes me sad that it's taken as read that the only sources of information for the population are advertisers. Letting advertisers inform you is about as bad as letting politicians make your choices.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    If people vote for it, then while I can dispute its wisdom, I can't dispute the fact that it would be the will of the people

    Prop 8 might have been the will of the people, but I think that it is a constitutional error that minority rights can be overrode by the will of the people. Prop 13 might have been the will of the people, but it was definitely a constitutional error to set it up so that taxes could be limited like that, and California has literally run out of money over that,

    Also, the people who vote on these things aren't `the people' exactly; they're a subset of the people that tends towards older & better off, and this isn't exactly equitable.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Isn't it about choosing people to make our decisions?

    Only if you focus on the particular representative model we use, rather than the broad idea itself.

    As for representative democracy, there's no need for it to be absolute, and ours isn't. For example, we don't trust our politicians to make decisions about who gets to vote and how often. They have no delegation from the people on that issue, and unless there's a supermajority (which can generally be taken as a proxy for wide agreement) they have to ask us before dicking around with it. I like that model, and want to see it expanded.

    Such expansion can be taken too far - Hide's ideas about a referendum for councils to increase rates is ridiculous. But I have no problem with cautiously expanding the sphere of things we don't trust politicians on. And I think privatisation - something where public opinion seems to differ widely from that held by politicians - is a perfect candidate. Another obvious one is the BORA - politicians shouldn't be able to muck around with that or even impliedly repeal portions without our permission.

    (ohhh... now there's a good one. Make an s7 report mean a referendum or supermajority for third reading. But that would mean the A-G would twist the law even further than they do at present to avoid making such a report...)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Prop 8 might have been the will of the people, but I think that it is a constitutional error that minority rights can be overrode by the will of the people.

    Indeed. But we're not talking about removing or confirming people's oppression here - we're talking about stopping politicians from selling our stuff.

    On the more general issue, I would like to see a BORA check on referenda (because there's none at the moment). But at the end of the day, you can't get into forbidding votes on certain issues, because that road rapidly leads to Honduras.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Also, the people who vote on these things aren't `the people' exactly; they're a subset of the people that tends towards older & better off, and this isn't exactly equitable.

    Well, you can always try and convince people to vote. And if the issue is important enough to them, they will.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Well, you can always try and convince people to vote. And if the issue is important enough to them, they will.

    This is not what has been found in the past.

    (And this concept of the popular will is a bit muddled --- is it the will of the California people that the state go bankrupt? Probably not...)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Remember, democracy isn't about making good decisions, its about making our decisions.

    Good government is about making good decisions. Direct democracy is (as I/S rightly points out) not about making good decisions.

    Representative democracy allows the people censure over those empowered by the people, this disempowers politicians who fail to practice good government.

    Direct democracy requires such oversimplification of government that bad government becomes almost inevitable and yet applies no censure to those who fail to practice good government. It is a recipe for bad government.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Only if you focus on the particular representative model we use, rather than the broad idea itself.

    I like the broad idea, but we're stuck with the representative model. Referenda are allowed, but apart from CIRs (which seem to be a joke), the questions in the referenda are set by the representatives. Back to square one. Of course one can agitate for a referendum, but you can agitate directly for your cause just as easily. You've probably got a better chance that way, so long as you time your agitation for when a sympathetic power bloc is has been 'chosen by the will of the people'.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Direct democracy requires such oversimplification of government that bad government becomes almost inevitable and yet applies no censure to those who fail to practice good government. It is a recipe for bad government.

    I guess by 'Direct Democracy' you mean lots of referenda? I'm yet to see any kind of government that you could unilaterally call 'Good'. About the best thing we can say about representative democracy is that there have been much worse systems.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    About the best thing we can say about representative democracy is that there have been much worse systems.

    Yes, one of which is rule-by-referenda.

    And I think privatisation - something where public opinion seems to differ widely from that held by politicians - is a perfect candidate

    Which politicians? They aren't a homogeneous mass, after all.

    (And why shouldn't the same arguments apply to rates & taxes? Also things which are ours...)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I guess if John Key wanted to show a hitherto unsuspected talent for stand up comedy, he could call both Twyford and Hide's bluff, and propose a government bill to make all "significant" asset sales and purchases (and throw in "significant" rates and user charge hikes) by local government subject to referrenda. I confidently predict the House would be inexpensively redecorated with skull fragments and brain matter in very short order.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Yes, one of which is rule-by-referenda.

    It's been tried? Cool! Where?

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    About the best thing we can say about representative democracy is that there have been much worse systems.

    Have we got a thread for you...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

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