Island Life by David Slack


Big Little City, Big Little News Service

On the weekend John Key hailed the Big Little Mayor, John Banks, as "Super Mayor". We know what he meant, even though his minders now say we don't.

Feeling queasy about your local government makeover yet, Aucklanders? Leaving aside for a moment the very good question: will my voice be heard under the new set-up?, there are more questions you might ask: How they can make this transitional arrangement work? Is Mark Ford a superman? Can he scoop all the daily operations of all the councils into one operation and still ensure your rates and drainage and road maintenance will all continue to be managed in an orderly manner?

The simple answer seems to be: "yes". How? By jettisoning all the extraneous and onerous aspects of local government like community services and events and the buildings that accommodate community groups; think scout halls and the like. Let us watch carefully to see what goes overboard.

Call me a sceptic. Couldn't we have achieved the desired cohesion in transport and infrastructure by simply giving the regional council the same powers bestowed on all other regional councils in the last shakeup?

That said, I nonetheless have a proposition. John Banks as Super City mayor is just too dismal a notion. I propose we draft in an outsider. I propose we persuade a good person to move north. He talks nothing but sense. He doesn't duck the hard calls. He is so admired that every time his image appears on the cover of the Listener, they sell an extra million copies (check this).

If we must have a super city, then I propose we make our super mayor Gareth Morgan.


I lamented to a friend yesterday that I was running out of runway for TV news. It began a few weeks ago as the tawdry spectacle in Napier dragged on and Catherine Loft, live on the scene, delivered her words in a tone so slow and exaggerated it made a pre-school teacher sound positively highbrow and obscure.

Then on Thursday night I turned on the set, and was greeted by Wendy Cheerleader-Airpunch standing outside the Christchurch High Court, crossing to Vicki Wilkinson-Baker inside the Christchurch High Court. I considered waiting through ten minutes of nothing to find out what was happening in the Worth business, but I had the dejected certainty it would be no better.

My friend, who has had plenty of experience pushing a microphone into people's faces made some very good points, which are too good not to share:

Questions one might ask about Richard Worth:
What appointments has he made in 195 days?
What percentage of those have been women?
What checks and balances are there to ward
against this?
Has anything been learnt since Field?

The Dunedin One:
John Campbell gets Bain in front of a camera but never asks "Did you do it?" In fact no-one face to face with Bain has asked a single question about the events.

It's all so dispiriting I need to go lie down on the couch and turn on the tube. I hope I'm not too late to see something hilarious with a twist of misogyny. Around about now, Paul Henry should be fluffing up the cushion for his pal John.

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