Hard News by Russell Brown


Rodney on the Road

If you have a spare couple of hours in London this Thursday, New Zealand's reformist dynamo of a local government minister has some ideas for you. According to an invitation forwarded to me by email:

Reform is pleased to invite you to a roundtable seminar where the New Zealand Minister of Local Government and for Regulatory Reform, the Hon Rodney Hide MP, will outline new developments in regulatory practice, including his work on better institutions and quasi-constitutional reforms in a Westminster system. The merits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights to limit government spending will be explored alongside New Zealand's work on a Regulatory Responsibility Bill to introduce greater accountability and transparency to regulatory decision making.

Lunch will be served.

It runs from 12.30 to 2pm at Reform, 45 Great Peter Street, SW1P, and will be chaired by Reform economist Patrick Nolan, who's also fielding the RSVPs.

Delegates presumably won't hear that the minister's present reform effort, in Auckland governance, was characterised last week as a "shemozzle" by a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. Or that the Regulatory Responsibility Bill is presently just a press release (although Hide's Taskforce was supposed to be reporting back this week, with suggestions on how to make Hide's old bill from 2006 constitutionally fit).

But the hazy state of things isn't holding back Rodney from his global speaking tour. Next week, he's in Toronto, addressing the Economic Club of Canada. He sounds impressive:

Rodney Hide is one of New Zealand’s most high profile and colourful politicians. He heads ACT New Zealand, a party which espouses free market classical liberalism, and is a Cabinet Minister in the National-led government of Prime Minister John Key.

Local Government is usually a quiet, almost invisible portfolio, but since becoming Minister last October Rodney Hide has set a cracking pace for reform. He has earned the moniker of “Minister for Ratepayers” for his determination to crack down on red tape and needless bureaucracy, and because of his focus on the rights of ratepayers and residents, rather than councils.

He is not, of course, a Cabinet minister, and I've never heard anyone refer to him as the "Minister for Ratepayers", but that's showbiz.

Any other intelligence from the Public Address diaspora is, of course, welcome.

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